January 20, 2012 2 Comments
Monitoring is an essential part of any PR and reputation management campaign management, but is often considered from the sole point of view of extracting information from the Internet, whereas a successful plan involves and requires many other steps.
In my previous post, I described monitoring as trying to a listen to a conversation happening 20 feet away in a crowded bar. This is the information extraction part often referred to, but what good is it if the conversation stays in your head as a string a words, not communicated to anyone or analyzed or used to take action ?
Here are 5 steps that define a useful media monitoring plan from the definition phase to the decisional aspects.
Cutting through the billions of conversations going on each day implies restricting both the subjects you’re interested in as accurately as possible and limiting the sources to the most useful ones. defining entities is the first part.
Most competitive monitoring plans will focus on brand names, products or services and company executives. That in itself can be quite a hurdle. I monitor the news for Augure (which means “omen” in French) and you wouldn’t believe the stuff that comes in from World of Warcraft, ancient mysteries forums, church organ players and death metalheads if I’m not careful in my keyword selection. Oh my …
Once you have defined your keywords and potential namesakes or other pitfalls, advanced monitoring platforms use semantic analysis to extract the correct information using context in the article. This filters out most if not all of the noise without missing important data.
Where does your audience hang out? Are your stakeholders most vocal on Facebook or in blogs? Is offline coverage important to your success?
The natural temptation, in order not to miss anything important is to monitor the whole universe. And this leads to numbers games about the number of sources being monitored. But that’s meaningless and dangerous:
- First because as soon as you have the technology to monitor a blogging platform such as wordpress, you can monitor over 50 million sources. Hook-on to Facebook and that’s 700 million, no 800, no 900 no … Numbers are meaningless. Far more important is to identify those that are influential in your industry, extract clean information from them (no adverts, no spam) and be able to add more as and when necessary.
- Secondly because you will not be able to digest the result of too large a reading list. My photography-minded friend and Augure Product Manager Caroline set up one of our feeds to monitor the news about a new camera on social media. Like her, I doubt that you will enjoy seeing thousands of messages pile up every hour (unless what you want is a statistical dashboard), even on-topic ones So be specific about what you need to include. By default, we suggest packs to our customers and it is always easy to build from that.
Forum messages and offline have very different structures. Mixing offline sources with online media requires some technical work in order to present readable and interpretable results. As a simple example: in your monitoring results, would you rather see tweets with shortened links or the article hiding behind the link ?
What is your goal with that monitoring? Are you interested in the share of blog coverage of a product you have just launched or is real-time sentiment analysis of a developing crisis more important to you?
Too often, analytics are an afterthought of monitoring plans. But defining the dashboard you need prior to anything else is important to determine what information your monitoring and/or qualification software/teams need to provide you with? Tone, volume, size, images, number of views, ranking, influence levels … ?
Sharing and collaborating
As social networks have changed public relations forever, companies have had to adapt by becoming more social themselves. Stakeholder engagement is no longer the exclusive responsibility of a few staff members in the PR team and more and more employees are becoming brand ambassadors after being trained and receiving proper engagement guidelines.
As will be discussed in the final installment of this series, monitoring is essential for successful engagement and its results should be share with anyone taking part in discussions on behalf of the organization.
Depending on the recipient, sharing may take the form of an analytic report, a webzine to read in the tube or a formal press review and reputation dashboard. Whatever the form taken, sharing is an essential and often overlooked part of success.
Now that you have the 5 steps in hand, how do you use your monitoring to enhance your social engagement ?