How To Use Social Monitoring Tools To Track Brands And Competitors

Social Media Monitoring“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Sometimes I think brands carry this philosophy into the social media realm. Several case studies have pointed to brands ignoring their customers on social media, believing their small, individual voices won’t be heard by others.

But I’m here to tell you that yes, yes it does make a sound. A really loud sound.

Social media has forced brands to relinquish control over to consumers who can influence how others perceive them.

Social monitoring helps you tap into these conversations to capitalize on positive sentiment and mitigate negative sentiment, while understanding how competitors are perceived and industry trends are changing. Ignore it at your own peril.

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I know how overwhelming tracking this vast and never-ending stream of information can be when you have never-ending lists of tasks to perform (All the late nights I’ve worked overtime are testament to this!).

To help make it easier for you to stay on top of this information overload, here are the social monitoring tools I use to quickly connect with the information I need to effectively manage SocialMotus.

Track News and Blogs Through Feeds

Meet your new best friends: feeds.

Save yourself time by having your important search queries and blog content brought to you in one dashboard.

I recommend you sign up for Google Reader.

It’s not only a great content curator but content manager as well.You can ‘star’ results you want to read later and add results to customized tags to group them around a category to read when you need it.All within one simple to use interface.

For example, you’ll notice I created a tag called ‘Resource for press release’ and added the following article below. We’ll be launching our official SocialMotus product soon, which means I’ll need to start writing press releases soon. This article is perfect for emphasizing the need for a tool like SocialMotus that facilitates social media marketing without the hefty price tag. Now when I need to write our new press release, I simply go to reader and click on the tag ‘Resources for press releases’ under ‘Subscriptions’ and I’ll have all the data I need for my press release sources.

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You can create tags for anything from great articles on Twitter under ‘Twitter Tips’ to competitor analysis under ‘Competitors’.

So here’s how you set up Google Reader & tags.

1. After you sign up, go to Google Blog Search under the ‘More’ section or Google News on the top of the screen in the black bar. It will open up in a new page.

2. Enter your keyword phrase into the search box. Personally I make sure to always click on the downward facing arrow to open up the advanced search to specify I only want exact match search results to appear for more targeted results.

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3. If you like the results from the search, go to the bottom of the page and click on ‘RSS’.

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4. It will now show you the RSS feed of your search results in a similar page as the image below. Simply copy the URL of this page.

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5. Go back to Google Reader and click the orange “Subscribe” button in the upper left corner and paste the URL into the form field that appears.

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6. Now when an article is indexed for your query, it will be added to your Google Reader. Create as many subscriptions as you like to monitor keywords important to your brand and industry.

Add blogs you’re currently reading

Is there a particular blog you like to read? You can add that to your reader too.

Simply paste their URL into the pop up that appears when you click the orange ‘Subscribe’ button in reader.

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And voila!

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Add tags to group articles

Now to add tags, simply go to the bottom of the article and click on ‘Add Tags’. Then type in the name of the tag you want to save it under. If it is a new tag, it will appear under ‘Subscriptions’.

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Monitor the web through Google Alerts and Evernote

While I still prefer to use Google Reader as you can keep track of everything within one interface, I know some of you prefer to receive information through emails.

If you want results with your keyword emailed to you when Google indexes them, you can’t go past Google Alerts.

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Unlike Google Reader, you can’t star or save the results in Google Alerts. This is where Evernote comes in handy. Evernote lets you store your online data and group them under tags (similar to how to you group articles under tags in blogs).

Use it to store links and record information under different tags. The best part is Evernote is cloud-based, so it syncs your notes between computers, tablets and smartphones.

I use it to collect information around my future blog posts. For example, I’ve created tags called ‘Blog Post Ideas’. These are all the articles I wanted to use as inspiration for my future articles.

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Twitter and Facebook

Endless information is shared on Facebook and Twitter making them gold mines for monitoring important conversations around your brand, industry and competitors.

The best part is you don’t have to be logged into Facebook to search for relevant resources. Social monitoring tools like SocialMotus pull the results from Facebook’s public timeline.

What I like (and yes I am incredibly biased, but it is nonetheless true) is the ability to group keywords. Most tools will list the keywords you monitor separately, SocialMotus lets you group them according to a topic.

This is how it works.

  1. First you set up keywords you want to monitor using the ‘Keyword Settings’, then ‘Add Keywords’. You have a broad topic, and within each topic you have keywords you want to monitor.

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For example, I could use:

  • Topic: Competitors, Keywords: [List competitor names]
  • Topic: Products, Keywords: [Product Names]
  • Topic: Marketing Campaigns, Keywords: [Campaign Names]

Once you save your keywords, it will look like this:

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2. Then when you go to ‘Keyword Results’, you can select a keyword you set up. Any tweets that contain this keyword will appear in the results.

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You’ll notice there are no results on Facebook as no one is posting public updates about SocialMotus (*hint hint).

If you want to narrow down the type of messages that appear, you can click on the ‘Advanced’ option. You can exclude any keywords straight from this page by clicking on “Advance” and entering the keywords in “Add Additional Excluded Keywords”.

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Need more information on the user before you engage with them? We’ve got you covered.

Simply place your mouse over their username and a pop up will appear with all the details you need to more effectively engage with and follow the user using the ‘follow’ button.

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Using SociaMotus, you can reply, retweet, archive, add a note to the message or simply assign it to another team member by clicking the ‘Assign’ option within each message. When your team member logs into SocialMotus, they will be able to view the tweet you assigned under the ‘Monitor’ tab and ’Assigned’ side tab.

Best practice

Track ALL the possible keywords that are related to your brand, your company name, products and/or services, key features, marketing campaigns, nicknames, competitors and industry terms.

Regularly monitor keywords and engage with users to mitigate negative remarks and thank users for positive remarks. When appropriate offer users a reward for their feedback such as a discount.

Optional Tracking

With the tools above, you’ll be able to effectively monitor your brand, industry and competitors. Though, you may need some additional information from your social monitoring tools depending on your type of business.

In this competitive landscape, it may be beneficial to monitor prices of consumer goods on eBay, Amazon and Craiglist. The prices users are willing to pay may influence the prices you choose in order to remain competitive.

The easiest way to track these figures is to simply add the RSS of a search query to your Google Reader. You would perform the same actions as you did above for news and blog search results.

For example, you could go to eBay, enter your keywords, click the RSS button at the bottom of the page, and then paste the link in your Google Reader.

If you want to monitor your competition, or any webpage in particular, subscribe to an RSS feed at WatchThatPage. It will notify you any time a page is changed.

So this is my list of social monitoring tools I use to organize and track information relevant to SocialMotus. Are there any tools you can recommend?

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