The Value of Research, Social Listening and Monitoring in the Development of a Social Media Campaign  

Social media has a permanent and preeminent presence in modern society and is a crucial tool for public relations professionals. Publishing content and engaging directly with individuals on social media helps increase brand awareness and understand target audiences.  

The three most important elements when developing a social media plan are research, social listening and monitoring. These practices allow you to understand your client’s reputation online, what messaging will engage its audiences in a social campaign, and any risks your client should be aware of.  

Identifying the Right Social Platforms 

The first step of developing a strategic social media campaign is to conduct research.  Social media research consists of evaluating data on various social media platforms to understand target audiences and how they engage with certain topics on individual platforms. Research is a crucial tactic to successfully launch and maintain a positive online reputation and will help to develop campaign objectives and determine the right platforms for your 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 

Social monitoring requires exploring and understanding emerging trends, current events, opportunities and issues that impact your client. This process entails two steps: scanning and acting. Social monitoring involves gaining observations from social media and informing your strategy based on that analysis. 

Social monitoring should continue throughout the campaign and can be 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 understand  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 

Social listening is the systemic process of learning and evaluating insights and conversations on social media. This process will provide 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. 

Case Study 

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 of an unprecedented level by fans who could not get enough. This campaign shows that your organization can inspire a positive reputation on social media if you actively seek to listen to and please your customers. 

In your strategic plan, it is vital to include tactics of using 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 use data insights strategically. 

Starting with social listening and monitoring when developing strategic social media campaigns are the first steps to understanding your client’s audiences and how they perceive your organization. Your organization can feel empowered by its proactive efforts to stay updated with current events and conversations. Once the campaign kicks off, it is vital to constantly 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! 

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