Bloggers need to know where their blog sits within the “conversation”, which is why monitoring other blogs, social networking services, and regularly checking inbound stats is so important.
At Headshift, I’ve been involved in a number of projects involving social media monitoring. In some instances, it’s part of a brand protection strategy, but we’ve also worked with broadcasters and others to deliver propositions that use social media monitoring to find and reflect what audiences and stakeholders are saying. I’m not, however, a firm believer in any software vendor’s claims that their platform can accurately measure “sentiment” or identify “key influencers”. Where such claims are made, they’re usually based on a small list of words that programmers have deemed to be either positive or negative, which of course completely ignores double negatives and irony, and the influence of any particular person is usually judged merely upon follower numbers or inbound links, neither of which can separate a popular dog from a Nobel Prize winning thinker.
However, even if I don’t believe in the hocus-pokus of most of the social monitoring providers, I do strongly believe that monitoring is an important activity that can and should be part of any social media activity you might undertake, from marketing to brand protection, journalism to government service provision.
The people at Radian6, one of the leading social media monitoring solutions, understand the value of integrating monitoring with other activities, and have just launched a rather good eBook discussing how to Build and Sustain a Brand Community Online: