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Social Media Listening and Staffing

The following is a conversation that took place recently on the ASAE online community. The question raised is one you probably have in your organization;

How to efficiently monitor social media mentions and discussions about your organization?

There are a number of options available, each with its own pro's and con's.


From: Kate Achelpohl
Subject: Social Media -- listening

I'm trying to come up with an efficient way of listening to what's being said about our assn & products on social media outlets. I have some Google Alerts set up already, and I've expanded (greatly) my LinkedIn group memberships. And yes, I use TweetDeck.

But it all seems very manual and inefficient. At this point, I'm considering assigning publications & groups to others in my dept and asking for daily reports. Again, that doesn't seem like the right way to go about the task.

The purpose is to monitor and respond as appropriate.


Kate Achelpohl
Director, Member Communications
Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute
Reston VA
(703) 243-8555


From: Terrance Barkan
To:  Communication Section
Posted: 01-17-2012 11:38
Subject:  RE:Social Media -- listening


There are several tools for automating social media monitoring but at the end of the day, someone still needs to read the reports and make decisions if and when to respond. The tools you mentioned cover the majority of what you need to pay attention to. The question seems to be how to make the very best use of your valuable time (i.e. not to spend more time than necessary in reading all of the mentions you get if there is not some added value to that use of your time).
There is a trade-off to be had between doing your own monitoring versus relying on automated tools versus paying someone to perform the function. Here is how I see those trade-offs:
1. Self monitoring (Google Alerts, Tweetdeck etc.). The risk is that you spend more time that is necessary wading through content that is either not informative, actionable or otherwise adds value. The upside is that you and your staff are in the best position to interpret the information and you get it as it happens. I have some suggestions how to make this approach more effective at the end of this post.
2. Automated tools (Radian6, Thrive, etc.). The downside to using automated tools include costs, the need to manage and monitor the results (someone needs to know how to configure and manage the tool itself) and the need to dig down to the original posts in case a response is needed (much like option 1 above). The upside is that these automated tools provide you with a dashboard and trendlines that can help you to monitor progress overall and that is certainly a worthwhile advantage.
3. Paying someone to monitor for you. The downside is that this is additional costs although you would want to calculate which is more expensive to your organization, outsourced time or your internal staff time? The bigger downside is you need to find someone that can make judgment calls about what information is important and that needs attention. Not impossible but probably not as effective as your own staff team. You also need to manage this outside resource which will consume some of the staff time you are trying to save.

How to make option 1 more effective?

I have found that monitoring Google Alerts does not take a great deal of time and the trick is making sure you have the most relevant use of Key Words. If you find that you are getting results that are too broad or not relevant, adjust the keywords or eliminate that search altogether.

More importantly, be actively engaged in your online groups (LinkedIn for example) where instead of just monitoring discussions, your periodically introduce discussions. Better yet, have some of your volunteers lead discussions on topics you have identified as important within the association.
If you are not already doing it, having a more proactive stance based on a solid plan and social media engagement strategy does two things; a.) it helps you focus on the channels that are most important thereby saving time wasted on less relevant channels and b.) it helps you monitor what is being said about your association from within the conversation as opposed to from the sidelines, primarily monitoring.
Hope this is helpful to you.

Kind regards,
Terrance Barkan CAE, Chief Strategist - T: +1 202 294 5563 - www.socialstrat.org

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