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PR Industry, Wake Up And Smell The Social Media Monitoring Opportunity

I attended last night’s Third Tuesday (which was finally held on a 3rd Tuesday) and the topic was “More than just an Act of Faith. How do we measure social media?” The organizers invited a panel which included Katie Paine, President of KD Paine and Partners and author of Measuring Public Relationships. Joining Katie will be Marshall Sponder, the Chair of the Web Analytics Association`s Community and Social Media committee, and Marcel Lebrun, President of Radian6.

Lots of different thoughts were shared about what to measure, tools, different social media campaigns which have achieved their goal and some that didn’t quite make audiences go “wow.” Throughout all of this the one thing that I was surprised that was not discussed was the step before measurement, monitoring of social media. Let’s be honest here, social media isn’t new, we’ve been doing, hearing and talking about this stuff for at least three years. The practice of monitoring by public relations professionals isn’t new either, companies have been offering these services for years and now we even have companies dedicated to monitoring of social media. My big surprise disappointment came last night when I had asked the attendees how many are monitoring what is being said about their clients in social media? Out of a room of just over 100, I counted less than 5 hands being raised. The room was quick to jump and defend their turf with “we have a limited budget to work with” or “clients only want to spend on monitoring when there is a business pain.” I found all these to be variations of the same general excuse! We’re in a world where agencies are expected to set the standards and teach clients, they wouldn’t need you if they knew how to do their own campaign would they? If we’re going to get together and talk, then let’s make sure that at the end of the discussion we’ve raised the bar.

Earlier in the day there was a roundtable on Social Media Measurement and Metric, but imagine if within the public relations industry it became standard practice to monitor what is being said about your clients? Agencies could potentially increase their billable hours and clients would have a much better idea on how and what to use to generate an ROI, but also a much better idea of where their money is being spent. Let’s take something as simple as Google Alerts, a rep has to take time to set up key words important to that client, say “Company’s Name” and “Product A”, not a lot of time, but now do the same using a few different tools and different social media such as Tweet Scan which helps you monitor what is being said on Twitter, approximately 1 hour. Next you’ll need to set aside time on either a daily or weekly basis to gather all the data, about hours. Now the work comes into play, taking all the disparate data and formalizing it into a report for your client, about another hours. Conservatively that is an additional 5 hours that you spend working on a client’s behalf.

If you are a client, then isn’t this type of information critical to your business? I mean who wants to be the next Kryptonic locks or “Dell Hell“, on a smaller scale but yet important because it has been consistently happening for over 1 year in the form of comments from consumers on Profectio.com. Can you imagine being the brand manager having to report to the CMO as to why “Your Company Sucks” is the number one Google entry.

David Alston

Great post Dave, n nWell, 5 out of 100 hands certainly isn't a great number but I guess it is a start. Social media is turning the profession upside down and whenever a shake up like this happens its the early birds that get the advantage. The advantage could be capturing market share from competitors, satisfying more customers, innovating with new product offerings etc… I see this cycle as is so similar to the early days of the Web – it took awhile before people realized the true value. Can you imagine any business of any size not having a decent website presence today? n nConsumers have already rushed into social media and the conversations are already fast and plentiful. Opinions on brands are being exchanged – good and bad – every second of every day – they aren't going away (they are cached on social sites and search engines for everyone who happened to miss the opinions from now until eternity.) n nDave you make some great points on whether a brand can afford not to be listening to social media. As well, can a brand ignore social media conversations happening amongst their customers while competitor decides to actively listen and engage on their behalf and steals those customers away? n nHere's hoping the 5 hands will inspire the 95 to act quickly before those initiators move from the first 5 brands to act to the top 5 brands in the market. n nDavid Alston nRadian6

Michael O'Conno

Dave, to be fair, I think that (for most half-way decent agencies) it already is standard practice to monitor what is being said about our clients. It is, as you say, a pretty simple thing to do – even though the expense of a comprehensive monitoring and measurement regime should not be under-estimated – particularly in the case of major brands. n nYes, there was a relatively small show of hands in response to your question, but I think that was in part a reflection of the fact that Third Tuesday attracts much more than just a PR crowd. I'd hazard a guess that no more than a third of the people in the room were involved in PR – and of those, probably less than half were from the agency side.

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