Whether you like it or not, your industry, your products and most likely your business itself is being talked about online. Today’s consumers constantly share opinions, reviews, questions and ideas about what they spend their money on, and its up to you whether to see that as an opportunity or a threat.

This online chatter around a topic or a brand is called the social buzz.

What is Social Buzz Monitoring?

Put simply, Social buzz monitoring is the process of identifying where your brand is being discussed online, and by whom.

Like focus groups and surveys, social buzz monitoring allows you to canvas opinions and collect data from consumers and influencers that may be useful to your business. The trends and conversations that buzz monitoring uncovers may have an influence on your approach and the way you plan your strategy for the future.

Some experts will tell you that social buzz monitoring is far superior to traditional survey exercises, as people will usually tend to be more candid when sharing thoughts online with their friends and peers (although not always!).

As well as being great for listening, buzz monitoring also offers opportunities to reach out and engage with consumers, meaning you can respond with help and advice, and hopefully drive sales.

Monitoring Tools

Many of you will be familiar with Google Alerts. This is an example of a free monitoring tool, and though useful for beginners, it is a very basic option compared to some of the other more sophisticated tools out there.

If you want to take a step up from what Google Alerts can offer you, there are paid monitoring tools which are offered by companies like Brandwatch, Attentio and Radian6, who will normally charge you a large monthly fee for use of their monitoring dashboard.

Our own service lies somewhere in between these two options – we are capable of far more sophisticated monitoring than you can get from a free service such as Google Alerts, but without the premium price charged by the paid monitoring dashboards.

So how do monitoring tools work? Basically, monitoring tools allow you to monitor select keywords such as the name of your business, meaning that whenever your brand is mentioned in blogs, news, discussion forums, social networks etc you will get a notification.

You can also take it a step further, and look at other key words and phrases that are related to your business or your industry.

Most newcomers to buzz monitoring will find the data they are given overwhelming and often largely irrelevant, like a fisherman who casts his net and keeps pulling out old boots and bits of junk instead of tasty fish.

The key to successful buzz monitoring is being able to hone your results so your net is not cast too wide, and you are only pulling in the stuff that is of genuine use to you. It is also all about being current and being able to spot buzz as it happens, so you can react and respond instantly.

Benefits of Social Buzz Monitoring

Used effectively, social buzz monitoring should help you to answer some of the following questions:

Are people talking about your brand?

Buzz monitoring gives you a sense of how much people are talking about your brand. Even if you are a small business and there may not be that much buzz around you, there almost certainly will be chatter about your industry that could be very useful to tap into. What are the needs and problems of customers in your industry? What are they looking for?

Who is talking about you?

Buzz monitoring is a great way to locate your market – for example, are your customers mostly Facebook users, or are they more often to be found on Twitter and LinkedIn? Pinpointing your customers in this way will allow you to target your marketing (both online and offline) more effectively.

You may also be able to identify key influencers in your industry – those bloggers, tweeters and others whose opinions are influential to other people. Identifying and engaging with these influencers could assist you greatly in spreading message about your brand.

What are they saying – is it positive/negative?

Even negative comments about your brand can be useful, as it may allow you to spot problems you might not otherwise have identified or been told about. You can even engage with your unhappy customers who are complaining about a disappointing product or service and offer to put things right, or at least put across your own side of the story.

Are online consumers looking for your products/services?

One of the huge benefits of social buzz monitoring is its ability to generate ‘hot leads’, by notifying you when someone is asking about or looking for a product or service that you can provide. You can then reach out to this individual and offer your advice and assistance, and perhaps generate a sale. Even if you don’t get a sale, you have benefitted your brand image tremendously by listening and offering to help a consumer.

How to Start Monitoring

Used properly, social buzz monitoring can be extremely valuable, whether for gauging consumer opinion, providing customer service or pushing sales.

As a business, you have the option of choosing an online marketing agency to do your social buzz monitoring for you, or you can have a go at doing it yourself by purchasing your own dashboard from the likes of Radian6.

However, as is the case with many things, having the expertise to know what to do is equally important as having the best tools to do it with. Just as a chef can have everything he needs for a delicious roast lamb dinner but can still end up with a soggy undercooked kebab if he doesn’t know what he’s doing, effective social buzz monitoring relies on more than just having the best, most expensive dashboard – it requires the knowledge of how use it and respond to the data it produces.

If you would like to know more about how social buzz monitoring could help your business, why not give us a call on 01305 542000, or drop us an email at info@key.digital