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Social Media Listening: 3 things you thought you knew

Three of the big misconceptions and learn how a more informed approach

28 May 2021 by

Over the last decade, social media has exploded as a channel for PR and marketing communications, and it’s no surprise that we continue to see brands embrace the use of social listening to effectively monitor, evaluate and optimize their PR and marketing efforts.

However, the learning curve has been a steep one, and knowledge gaps and misconceptions about best practice and the technical capabilities of social listening vendors still exist among PR and communication professionals.

Let’s explore three of the big misconceptions and learn how a more informed approach can drive significant value for you and your PR teams.

Myth 1: I need to capture everything

One of the most prominent misconceptions out there is that PR and communications teams believe they must capture every single social post, across all social media platforms. We’re taught to believe that the more data we have, the better our analysis. But the reality is that it is almost impossible to monitor everything out there –nor is it valuable to do so.

It’s also important to remember how polarized social media can be with those who are happiest or angriest most likely to be posting about your organization.

Like any other type of measurement, objective setting upfront is key. Who are your campaigns trying to reach? What do you want your audiences to say and do as a result?  It’s crucial to clearly define the scope of your listening, and where you want to focus your efforts. It’s all too common to be blinded by the scale of what’s possible and forget to concentrate on what you really need.

Myth 2: You can monitor all social networks

With the rise of WhatsApp, Snapchat and other one-on-one or small group messaging services (not to mention the resurgence of email), ‘dark social’ has stolen the limelight from social media.  Yet, you can’t track any of those conversations with social media listening tools.

Even the big mainstream social media platforms don’t offer unfettered access to social media monitoring vendors.

  • Facebook: Monitoring is limited to public Facebook Pages and Groups
  • Instagram: A limit of searching 30 hashtags in any 7-day period. Instagram Stories are also difficult to monitor with a 24hr data storage time limit.
  • LinkedIn: Does not provide a media monitoring API

Another thing to remember is in some major markets there are other platforms with huge market share such as WeChat, Seina Weibo, QQ and Douyin in China and VKontakte (VK) in Russia.

You can’t ignore the huge manual effort which is required to fill the gaps.

Not everything can be picked up via social APIs, and while tech is a huge driving force in making social media monitoring possible, it’s the combination of tech-savvy and human expertise which adds meaning and value to the process.

Myth 3: All you need is data

You’ve set up social listening, you’ve got data, you know you’re getting 20,000 mentions a month, that meme your brand posted got one million impressions and sentiment was on the negative side last Tuesday. But what does it all mean? Context is everything and analyzing social media data alongside news coverage and search trends can give you a much more holistic view of how your audience is reacting and who or what is influencing the conversation. This is where human experts come in and bring this data to life to give actionable strategic insights.

The good news is, it’s possible to accurately measure your key brand health metrics, learn your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, understand shifting market dynamics, and see patterns in consumer trends through social media monitoring. Tracking brand health is nowhere near as hard as it used to be.

But it’s important to realize both the potential and the limitations of this kind of activity. It’s very likely that social listening will just be a part of a wider media monitoring strategy, for example.  And while some vendors offer flashy automated solutions, remember it’s human analysis that turns interesting insight into valuable, actionable, data.

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