Ch8 - Social Media Monitoring and Analytics

(NOTE: You can download a copy of this chapter in PDF format at the very bottom of this page.)

Social Media Marketing Primer

Chapter 8: Social Media Monitoring and Analytics


Welcome to the Social Media Marketing Primer. If you’ve come across this material on its own – it has two homes – one is a site where you can download copies of the chapters or read them online, at - the other is a LinkedIn Group, Social Media Marketing Café, where you can discuss the material and ask questions:

In This Chapter

In this chapter we’ll take a look at the practice of social media monitoring, which is also known as social listening – an important part of social media marketing. We’ll also take a look at “social analytics”, which can help you see how your social media efforts are going. We’ll explore several related tools and try things out.

Understanding Social Media Monitoring, Social Listening and Analytics

A large part of social media marketing is initiating conversations and putting content on social networks; but another significant part of it is listening to what people are saying. For example, over time, one way to see how effective your efforts are is to see what people are saying about them – either in direct responses, or on their own social media accounts. And in theory, you could read through every post, but how do you find them? And what do you do if there are a lot of posts? So tools have evolved to help you see how things are going.

And at a basic level, social analytics similarly allows you to measure impact, such as the number of likes, or conversations, or the performance of a particular page or account. This can be helpful for reporting to a client or colleague about how social media efforts are going, and it can also help you to effectively allocate your time and resources.

What is social media monitoring? Social Listening?

In general, social media monitoring and listening are terms for the same thing. And they can be divided somewhat into “owned media”, and “earned media”.

Owned media is simply social media pages or “properties” that you control, such as your Facebook page, Twitter page, your blog. It’s the places where you post content, and start conversations, and you have direct access to reviewing the conversations. Technically, you could just look at what’s going on, and this is more realistic when a social media property is just starting off – but the more accounts you have, the more conversations go on, the more likely you may want to try tools that help you deal with a greater volume of conversations. These social media monitoring tools attempt to make your life easier, and help provide insight into trends.

On the other hand, “earned” media is “everything else” – that is, when people start their own conversations; or maybe someone shares something you post with someone else. The Holy Grail of social media marketing in some cases is to try and generate a self-propelled word of mouth conversation with relevant content, offers or news. You could also think of earned media as “off the ranch” – because it is out there, not on a page you control, but anywhere other than that page. So how do you find what people are saying? And there’s an app for that. Or tools. Another area where social media monitoring is trying to make your life easier.


To get a sense of the space, here’s a few excerpts from recent job descriptions on LinkedIn related to social media monitoring, with my bold:

  • Listening, monitoring and measurement – time allocation 20%

    • Be the eyes and ears of the brand(s) across all the entire social space

    • Identify conversations or crisis that require response and route through the appropriate department for resolution

    • Establish and use listening tools to gauge the health of the brand(s) online, and potential for participating in new communities

    • Partner with the analytics team to ensure accurate tracking of social media initiatives

    • Provide off-hours moderation of all brand(s) social media channels

    • Pull reporting and provide input on weekly, monthly and ad-hoc social media dashboards and reports

  • Experience using social media listening and analytics tools such as Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, and Sysomos

  • Digital Analytics Tools (Omniture, Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Radian6) a plus

If you’re learning the space, I do think one way to learn about tools and related skills is to scan job descriptions. Sometimes you can do it with product names (ex: Radian6 is a top social media monitoring tool), and other times you can scan with skills, such as “social monitoring” or “social listening”.

And like other social media marketing skills, social monitoring in some cases can be a dedicated role, but it can also be a skills in a “multiple hats” role, part of your skillset where you are both posting content, but also listening to what’s going on.

The Need for Speed: What is a social media crisis? 

As I look out in the space of social media marketing, in addition to strongly advocating thinking about return on investment to track if and when social actually generates revenue, I also believe that social monitoring for crisis situations can be one of the most cost effective ways to use social media.

In some cases, it’s a blind spot – until you have a public relations crisis, it’s hard to get a clear sense of how costly it can be. But it can be a really big deal, and cause significant financial damage for any sized business. It can cost millions of dollars to “clean up” a public relations crisis, and for smaller businesses, while the dollar amounts may not be as great, it can still make the difference between being profitable or not.

And the main reason it’s a really important issue in social media marketing is because social media allows messages to spread so fast. I remember being at a conference about social media, and a rep from a big PR firm was there talking about PR crises, and how the time you have to respond to a crisis before it gets out of control has reduced. At this point, it’s arguable that it can take a matter of hours before something bad can get national media attention.

For example, consider what happened to Target – a “data breach” (which, by the way, can happen to any business.)

In “Five Lessons For Every Business From Target's Data Breach”, the principle is offered that you need to be very pro-active:

1. Communicate the problem, pronto

“The company moved quite slowly on this breach,” reported John Biggs for TechCrunch on the same day as Target’s official announcement regarding the crisis. That’s because a report on the breach had emerged a week earlier by Krebs on Security. Though just rumors at that point, the post turned out to be so accurate — down to the how the theft likely occurred — that it revealed how long Target likely knew a crisis had occurred before alerting customers. On the other hand, they could have been even slower to respond. As the recent security breach announcement by Snapchat has revealed, waiting months to acknowledge and even longer to apologize for a breach can amplify the problem.

Another article, “Using Social Media in Effective Crisis Communication”, shows a responsive strategy:

Internally, Target decided on a plan on action for communicating the issue directly to consumers, and it included being open and honest about what happened. The day after the first reports surfaced, Target’s CEO posted YouTube videos explaining what happened, what the company is doing about it, and what steps customers should take to protect themselves.

So naturally, it takes resources to monitor things on social media, but when you consider the potential fallout, it’s a good idea for any company to be monitoring things. Some places recommend having a simple social media crisis plan, which can also serve the purpose of helping to show how costly things can be if you don’t respond quickly enough to a crisis.

On a smaller scale, social media monitoring around potential crisis situations can also be a long-term, strong leg to stand on – where the social media isn’t necessarily generating money per se, but where it’s a safeguard, and insurance, against losing a significant amount of money.

I’d suggest looking into it for any corporation or organization, as well as being a service that can be provided.

Social Listening in Hootsuite – “owned media”

Hootsuite is a simple tool we looked at in the previous chapter, which also allows you to do social listening on “owned media” in a central place. At some point Hootsuite may expand their offering to “earned media” as well.

To take a look at the options, you can log in, and look at “streams” that you set up. For example, if Twitter streams are set up, it will give you a feed of what people are saying, and when you have new followers.

For example, one tactic on Twitter for building out followers is to look at the followers you have, and follow them. And in some cases, you might see how many followers they have, and if they appear to be influential, you might engage them directly in conversation. So looking at “owned” media can be a way of not only seeing what’s going on, but building a following.

Basic Social Analytics

Social analytics could be a focus area to learn about, as well as even being a dedicated role. There has been increasing interest in it, and new tools coming out, because there has been a trend towards companies wanting to track the ROI (surprise) of their social media efforts. In some cases this means wanting to measure trends, such as (hopefully) an increase and growth in social media properties – or wanting to know if the conversation around a particular company or campaign is positive or negative.

One of the simplest ways to see what social analytics are like is to go into a Facebook page you have created, and click on the Insights link:

There are ways to get very “deep data” about social media activity, but the basic interface provides things that anyone can look at.

And when you click on the “people” link, you can get insights about the people who are visiting your page:

.For example, one thing that was really interesting about making an international facebook page, during the Arab Spring, was to look at the Facebook page insights and see what countries people were visiting from:

Basic Social Reporting in Hootsuite

So when you start looking at these types of things, especially if you’re offering a paid service to a client or are reporting your progress to someone at  work, then social reporting can make your life easier. You could go to all the separate tools, but sometimes it can be nice to have tools to put things together in a central place.

So Hootsuite allows you to do some social reporting, including scheduled, automatic reporting that delivers an email to your inbox.

.To try it out, roll over the toolbar on the left side in Hootsuite:

And click on Analytics:

There are a variety of reports and templates you can use

To get started, just click “Create One Now”:

And then select a template – some of them are only available in the paid version.

But you can scroll down and there’s a free one called Facebook Page overview, which you can try. (This example assumes you’ve read previous chapters, created a Facebook page, and integrated it in Hootsuite.)

So you can click the template to select it.

Then you can select the Facebook page you want to generate a report on:

And click Continue to Report Builder:

.Next you’ll end up on a screen you can explore, with a report template:

And you might like to just click Create Report:

The report will be filled in with any data you have:

If you haven’t typed in a name for the report, you can always click the Edit button:

And type a header:

Then click Save Changes:

And you’ll have a nice nifty custom report. Such a report includes information you can get in Facebook insights, but it makes it easier to share with other people.

In looking at such a report, one thing you’ll want to try is setting different date ranges – for example, you might generate a report once a month, or once a week, and review it with colleagues or your client. So you can click on the date range drop-down menu and choose an option:

You might also like to try different templates:

My general recommendation is to focus on your social media content and campaign, but then when things are going, to work on building your skills in being able to report on the activity.

Hootsuite allows you to come back and access reports you’ve made at any time:

Scheduling – Automation

Scheduling and automating a report can be a nice way to save time and have a tool for providing regular insight.

To schedule a report, in the report, click Edit:

And you have a drop-down menu where you can choose frequency:

.But in order to actually set it in motion, you need to click on Share:

And then add email addresses.

Trying is a free service that can give you a sense of what social media monitoring is like. Compared to a tool like Radian6, it has limitations, but at least it’s free.

I would recommend regularly going on and trying various kinds of searches, to get familiar with it’s capability.

For example, it appears a bit like, and you can think of it as a social search engine:

So you might type in a brand name, celebrity, company name or topic:

The “All” drop-down menu allows you to select social media channels. At first, you might just choose All, and then click search:

You’ll see a variety of figures. Don’t be alarmed!

On the left, social mention attempts to automatically “score” the general social perspective. Automated social listening has it’s limits, but depending on how many conversations or “mentions” there are, it can give you a high-level view:

To learn more about how social mention works, see:

Sentiment is an automated attempt to see if people are speaking positively or negatively about a topic.

The Value of Quotes

The top keywords list shows you some of the keywords related to your search – but it can also show a blind spot. In typing in “lyfe kitchen”, in my original search, I didn’t use quotes around the phrase, so it was looking at the words separately, for mentions of “kitchen”. (But I wanted lyfe kitchen as a brand name, which is a new restaurant chain).

So the moral of the story is, when searching on this tool, try using quotes around exact phrases:

Then the results may turn out differently. In this case, it is a more “focused query”:

And the sentiment is a bit different:

Other areas to explore include top “hashtags”, which a post on your search may fall into:

See the chapter on twitter, as well as:

The sources area is also interesting, mentioning the many channels that posts can appear on:

Another thing you can do is look at a single channel. For example, click the Microblogs link at the top:

And you will see “only” the results in microblogs, such as Twitter:

.Another thing to try to get a sense of how social monitoring can work on an ongoing basis, try the Email Alert function on the right side of the screen:

Other Tools

There are a lot of social monitoring tools. Radian6 is a top commercial tool, there are many good competitors, and the field is always evolving. As an exercise, I recommend exploring the following searches on Google:

“top social media monitoring tools”

“top free social monitoring tools”

“top social listening tools”

ROI Strategies

Social monitoring is on the fuzzy side of social media – there aren’t many tools that combine a true way to figure out the financial impact of “engagement”, or “sentiment”. This is partly because unless a social monitoring or analytics tool is tied directly into ecommerce, where you can trace the financial impact, then it’s hard or impossible to know the ROI.

But for purposes such as monitoring for potential crises, and to get a sense of what people are talking about, it is pretty straightforward. And some companies spend most of their attention in social listening on listening for conversations where someone is complaining about a product, or has a question, and then the customer service people respond directly on social media.

So my general recommendation when considering leveraging social monitoring for an organization or client, is consider integrating crisis monitoring, making a crisis plan, and doing some ongoing monitoring for customer service issues (no business is too small for this, even a local one). Social monitoring can also be used to get a sense of how people react to a new campaign.

And it could be very simple – building up a following on Facebook or Twitter could be a valuable “sounding board” – testing new ideas and campaigns, where you may get a comment or conversation going, and get valuable feedback in the process.

Social analytics might be closer to being able to track revenue – if you learn about web analytics tools such as Google Analytics or Omniture, and explore tools like Argyle Social, and invest some time in figuring out how to share coupons or offers on social media, you can look at how people may share or click on an offer you post in social, and trace it back to actual sales. But for most entities, the value of social monitoring is probably strongest around “crisis monitoring”, and customer service.

But hey – challenge me! (on the linkedin group)

Hootsuite Certification

To get deeper skills, and to have something to put on your resume, you might be interested to explore Hootsuite University, which has some additional learning material:

At present, there’s a cost to it, but the certification is doable, and can be something nice to work towards:

OMCP/Market Motive Certification

Another certification and set of courses on social media in general that you might like to explore, is OMCP certification, supported by a company called Market Motive:

There are a variety of courses, and you can earn “badges”, so it’s nice to work towards, and may provide a boost to the resume or linkedin profile.

Free Radian6 Training

Until/unless Radian6 develops a trial version, it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Radian6 is a good thing to have on your resume, but it is a more expensive too. Maybe we can start a petition, or a bunch of people could pitch in and get a license and then try it. (start a discussion on if that sounds interesting).

However, I’d definitely, strongly recommend watching some Radian6 videos, to get a sense of how one of the leaders handles social monitoring.


Or search on YouTube for Radian6 training.

Learning More

In addition to previous links and searches, here’s a few items that are probably worth exploring:

“Using Social Media in Effective Crisis Communication”

> Twitter analytics is more of a social advertising analytics platform – but worth knowing about, and possibly even trying. YouTube has an analytics section. Try googling; try them, add them to your LinkedIn Profile and resume.


Congratulations on making it through the chapter! Social monitoring can be interesting; I think the best way to approach it is to try a tool like Hootsuite, socialmention, and watch some Radian6 videos, and then concentrate on developing content for social. Once your social media presence is going, then I’d recommend coming back and actually using the tools. Best wishes!


You are welcome to visit and join the LinkedIn Group at - if you want to come on and say “huh?” or if you would like to set me straight on something, or just have some feedback.

Remember, there are NO DUMB QUESTIONS. If you have the question, someone else surely also did.


(NOTE: You can download a copy of this chapter in PDF format at the very bottom of this page.)

Todd Kelsey,
Jul 31, 2014, 7:17 AM