Social media has a permanent and prominent presence in modern society. It has rapidly become a crucial tool for communication professionals. Publishing content and engaging directly with audiences on social platforms helps increase brand awareness and target audience understanding.
The three most important elements when developing a social media plan are research, social listening and monitoring. These practices allow communicators to understand our client’s online reputation, what messaging will engage audiences in a meaningful way, and what risks the client should consider.
Identifying the Right Social Platforms
The first step in developing a strategic social media campaign is to investigate the environment. Social media research consists of evaluating data on various platforms to understand target audiences and how they engage with certain topics. Research is a crucial tactic to successfully launch and maintain a positive online reputation. It helps in developing campaign objectives and determining the right platforms for the campaign based on audience behavior and demographics. You don’t need to be on every platform, just the one where your competitors and key audience demographics are most active.
Social monitoring requires exploring and identifying emerging trends, current events, opportunities and issues that may impact your client. This process had two key elements: scanning and acting. Social monitoring involves gaining observations from discussions, tweets, postings, blog commentary and more and informing your strategy based on that analysis.
Social monitoring should continue throughout the campaign even if it is as simple as checking your organization’s social media accounts daily to address audience inquiries and comments. By tracking and observing posts from audience members, and target markets, organizations can better assess brand reputation and chart a course for success.
Tip: Each social media platform has analytics and metrics that can help organizations stay on top of comments and conversations concerning their accounts.
Social listening is the systemic process of learning and evaluating insights and conversations on social media. This process provides a clear picture of your client’s reputation, social position and the opinions of target audiences.
Beyond social monitoring, social listening explores how audiences discuss the organization through the collection and analysis of data. It develops a more comprehensive perspective of audience viewpoint and behavior to inform future campaign strategies. Social listening applies thoughtful attention to what is being said and gives it careful consideration.
Tip: Various tools, such as BrandWatch and CriticalMention, can help you implement social listening practices.
McDonald’s is one of the most well-known brands in the world. The fast-food company is frequently praised for its application of strategic social media monitoring and listening. When conversations about adults’ nostalgia for the McDonald’s of their youth and their periodic purchasing of children’s Happy Meals appeared on social media, McDonald’s listened. Last October, McDonald’s promoted a limited-time Happy Meal for adults called the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box. It included toys based on the famous McDonald’s mascots of the olden days (the late 20th century). The adult Happy Meal sparked a “feeding frenzy” at an unprecedented level by fans who could not get enough. This campaign shows that an organization can inspire a positive reputation on social media by actively listening to and striving to please its customers.
In your strategic plan, it is vital to include tactics that gather various metrics across different social media platforms to collect as much data as possible. Not only can this improve your organization’s performance and reputation on social media, but it can also help inform your ROI. Social listening and monitoring practices can structure how you collect valuable data and strategically use data insights.
Start with social listening and monitoring when developing strategic social media campaigns to understand your client’s audiences and how they perceive the organization. Your organization can feel empowered by its proactive efforts to stay updated with current events and conversations. Once the campaign begins, it is vital to continually monitor conversations on social media platforms and listen to what the target audiences are saying. In other words, organizations need to stay hip, and the practice of social listening and monitoring is the key!