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Common blunders to avoid when monitoring social media

Monitoring and analyzing social media data won't do companies any good unless they put the information in the right context and have a plan of action.

What are common mistakes that organizations make when it comes to monitoring social media?

The biggest mistakes boil down to not doing a complete job of evaluating your market. It's not enough to go out there and count the likes and mentions and shares about your product or service or your company. You need to use social media monitoring to create a picture of the marketplace. If you're wise, you're not just monitoring your likes and your mentions, you're going to be looking at the likes or mentions about your competitors as well. You need to build a picture of your market that's as complete on the social media side as it is on the business intelligence (BI) side. You're not closing the loop on the BI side if you're feeding back only information about yourself. You need to be feeding back information about your position in the market.

Another problem is that once companies start pulling in the information, they're not making strategic use of it. One use for social media monitoring is crisis management -- to have advance warning that a competitor is moving in on you or that someone else's products are overtaking yours. Social media monitoring gives you a leg up on that, gives you the ability to know about it ahead of time. A lot of companies fail to take advantage of that time savings.

If I have a crisis management imperative in place, to say, "OK, my brand is in trouble," and social media monitoring is giving me an early warning of that, I need to have a response plan in place ahead of time, or I haven't really bought myself any time. A lot of companies fail to think about that -- "Once I've got this data, once this data is talking to me, how am I going to respond?" They go to the trouble to start using monitoring, and then they don't have a response plan in place when things go south.

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I'd add misjudging the importance of certain metrics. # of likes, # of shares, etc. are not always relevant depending on what you're looking at. You've got to look at things in the context of the overall environment and as compared to other content you're producing.