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Monitoring social media: risk management for the 21st century

Labels with social media icons. Concept.Maybe your executive management still holds the opinion that social media is kids’ stuff, but the reality in 2015 is that a company ignores social at its own peril.

This post, based on a recent Social Media and the BC/DR Professional webinar, will give you the why and the what of monitoring social media, and will set the stage for the others in the series.

Why monitor social media?

As someone schooled in business continuity and disaster recovery, you likely have a good handle on the value of keeping tabs on what’s said online. But if you need help articulating that value to the higher-ups, here’s a cheat sheet.

Monitoring social isn’t just about follower deltas and audience demographics, despite the fact that you may be asked for those numbers. (Constantly.) You need to focus on more meaningful metrics.

Fortunately, even basic monitoring tools can help you identify user sentiment, albeit with varying results. More advanced software can help you drill down to follow and react to specific conversations in real-time.

This kind of flexibility can help you:

  • Discover what your customers and stakeholders think and feel about your company and your brand—outside of the artificial confines of a focus group or an artificially skewed customer service inbox
  • Shine a light on emerging issues or threats before they become full-blown crises
  • Tweak corporate messaging so it more accurately reflects the tone and timbre of what’s happening online
  • Interact with social media influencers to help spread your side of a developing story

What should you be monitoring online—and what should you be looking for?

Your monitoring efforts should cast a wide net. In essence, you need to be looking at anyone that could publish anything about your organization. Yes, that means monitoring as many social media websites as you can (or at least Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube and Instagram). But it also means you should include:

  • Daily and non-daily newspapers, both local and international
  • Newswire services and syndicated websites
  • Websites belonging to broadcast radio and television outlets
  • Sites belonging to consumer magazines, trade magazines and professional journals, and
  • Forums and messageboards.

If that seems like a lot to pay attention to, that’s because it is—but keep in mind you can outsource monitoring services if you don’t have the resources in-house.

However you monitor—whether you turn your staff loose on the Web or “set it and forget it” with a PR agency—you’ll want to keep your eye out for these:

  • Brand mentions
  • Discussions about your products or services
  • False or misleading claims about your company
  • Competitor mentions, and
  • Discussion of key issues or topics affecting your industry.

If you haven’t already started monitoring, the best time is now

Conversations about your organization and your industry are happening online—with or without you—so if the prevailing mindset in your organization is that you don’t need to bother paying attention, think again.

In the midst of a disaster or crisis, public opinion can turn on a dime—and lead to very real financial and organizational trouble. To say you’ll be glad you got out ahead of an issue online—especially one that could have cost you dearly—is an understatement.

Download the Social Media for the BC/DR Professional white paper to learn more. Interested in finding the best mass notification system? Download the Automated Notification System RFP Template