Manage Your Social Listening Projects

For the past two years, I have worked with brands all over the world as they embark on and manage their social data programs. These are companies that are constantly being written about across social channels and, while some collect just a few posts a day, most of them have hundreds or thousands of posts written about them every week. The key question that each of them has asked is, "How do I manage all of the data that is written about my company?"

Everyone who takes part in a social listening project needs to know how they can incorporate managing their Social Intelligence data into the rest of their already busy schedules. The most successful brands have undertaken a strategy of smart listening which can be achieved with just a few steps.

It all starts with asking the right questions:

1) What are you hoping to learn? It's nearly impossible -- as well as unnecessary -- to read every post written about a brand. First, identify what you are hoping to learn. Are you trying to understand sentiment about a brand or a specific product or competitor? Are you hoping to see if an advertising campaign has traction across a target audience?



This helps provide the right direction for creating data searches and data collection that will result in relevant information. By refining your data collection and deciding what is relevant (and unrelated) to projects, you will reduce the number of posts you are tasked with managing on a regular basis.

2) What do you need to listen for? Once you are collecting the right posts, you need to understand what data will provide the most insight. Identify which metrics will help answer business questions and spend time on the data that will provide you the right information. If you are looking to monitor share of voice, knowing the daily volumes of brand mentions online versus your competitors will help you stay current. If you are managing your brand's reputation online, you would look for authors discussing your brand and looking for trends in sentiment and topics that may drive conversations. By being mindful of metrics, you can quickly navigate data for those key indicators.

After you've confirmed the right data set is being collected, it is important to establish a regular frequency for reviewing data. Depending on business need, you may not need to review your data daily. The key is spending enough time with the data to establish a general baseline for volume and content so you can speak to the day-to-day conversations, as well as understand anomalies that may help you uncover new trends and emerging issues.

Regular data monitoring should include the following:

1) Post titles: Reading post titles is a quick way to create a snapshot of conversations and trends. Titles often offer clues to themes. From here, dive in and read some of the posts. This will provide verbatim examples as well as a comfort level with how authors are discussing your brand online.

2) Overall post volumes: Regularly monitor post volumes. Understanding the trends in post volumes (higher on weekends, lower on Sundays, etc.) will help you better grasp authors' habits. This will also alert you to any fluctuations into what is going on around a brand or project.

3) Use technology: RSS feeds and alerts provide a way to stay current. The key is to structure feeds and alerts so that the information sent provides a summary of data activity over that day or period of time. Again, anytime you see trends in subject matter or post volume, you can explore it further.

It can be overwhelming when faced with a mountain of data about a brand, but not all of it is going to be important. Committing to regularly reviewing data at a high level and staying focused on business goals will allow you to listen smarter to social intelligence data and help you move from collecting posts to understanding trends and developing insights.

1 comment about "Manage Your Social Listening Projects ".
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  1. Joellyn Sargent from BrandSprout LLC, October 19, 2010 at 7:21 a.m.

    Excellent post, Becca. Companies tend to be so concerned about the brand messages they send that they sometimes overlook the value of listening.

    Social listening can be one of the most valuable aspects of social media for brands, so having a good system to gather and monitor data is essential.

    Your points about focusing on what's relevant and not reading everything will certainly make the listening process easier for anyone feeling overwhelmed by the volume of data out there.

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