Hungry Eyes: Using Social Media Monitoring for Crisis PR, Brand PR and Corporate Communications Strategies
It’s no secret that stupid and illegal social media activity can cost people their jobs. (The latest they-did-what?! examples feature an automobile repair shop employee using Twitter to find a pot dealer and a daycare employee ridiculing toddlers via Instagram … both were fired.) But what these examples and more show us is that more companies (and their PR partners) could be using social media not just for engagement with key audiences, but more importantly as a defensive tactic to protect their brand and identify potential threats– and — as an offensive tactic to assess trends and pounce on strategic opportunities. Tuned in organizations realize that social media provides a world of opportunity for improving their business and fine tuning critical customer service, employee relations and operations one tweet or snap at a time.
Sure, having a media monitoring service in place for capturing print and online placements, broadcast segments and general mentions is crucial. But a traditional monitoring service alone (sure add Google Alerts in there to spice things up) only goes so far. You may miss conversations or shares on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and other sites rich with everyday conversation, highly shareable visuals and personal revelations that could impact your brand. This standard approach is valuable, but doesn’t take advantage of the insights a more robust monitoring system can provide.
Here are a few examples of how vigilant monitoring can feed your communications:
Facing a product PR crisis?
The outcome is not entirely unpredictable. What if you could pull timeline information and engagement stats from your monitoring plan several months back when you were observing a competitor in a similar tangle? Use those learnings to craft your own strategy and map out a plan of action. Rely on the compared stats to predict outcomes and anticipate challenges. Develop a plan that will allow you to monitor relevant information over time with a system that allows for auditing of past events. (Hint: backtracking to audit an event months after the fact is insanity-inducing and costly unless you have already been tracking an issue in real time. Identify trends and issues your team should monitor continuously in real time to build your research repertoire.) See more about how Fineman PR takes this further for clients with our custom Crisis Predictive Tool.
Never underestimate a manual search: Be creative with your search terms (product names, company names, facility names) and see what comes up. Most days the results may be tame. But on the day you pull up an Etsy link for handcrafted undergarments crafted from your company’s logo t-shirt (true story), or Facebook photos of build-your-own furniture out of your product’s packaging, or an Instagram video of a company driver hurling obscenities while transporting your product on the clock, you’ll be grateful for the opportunity to engage and react appropriately in the interest of appreciation or safety depending on the situation.
Don’t just watch, take action: Track public conversations about your brand and go a step further by categorizing these fans geographically. Make a note of their profile and location for future targeted outreach and engagement opportunities in the future. Similarly, note dissatisfaction or opportunities for improvement. Keep a log of potential customer and consumer feedback for planning considerations or messaging nuances.
Don’t just read an article, digest it: Even with a traditional monitoring service, there is more that can be done to up the value of results. What are influencers writing about? What angles have been covered that you should avoid? Which articles involving your industry or product are getting the highest visibility and readership? Which visuals are going viral? What terms are resonating with media? What do the comments reveal about the issue or consumers’ perceptions of the topic? Digesting and learning from news coverage provides you the knowledge you need to provide critical context to clients, adjust messaging, and focus your next story angle.
PR Measurement Smorgasbord
Let’s say you are representing a fashion retail brand. Conducting a few random internet searches or scanning Google Alerts isn’t going to give you, or your client, a comprehensive picture of your brand’s online presence or the conversation happening about them or the industry. (Nor will it likely bring up photos of your products!) There are dozens of programs PR and marketing professionals can use as a means of monitoring issues and measuring impact. Below are some of the outlets we depend on every day to refine our monitoring for clients and to ensure we have the bases covered:
• Hootsuite – This informative and efficient dashboard allowing you to simultaneously manage your various networks across multiple social media platforms
• Topsy – Do you want to know how many times an online article was retweeted? Simply plug in the URL to this site
• Statigram – Instagram has been a booming outlet for consumers to express themselves. Statigram allows you to gather information on the conversations happening on Instagram
• Compete, Quantcast – Use these programs to get information on web traffic for certain sites including unique visitor count, site ranking and how the site traffic compares to competitor sites
For our PR team at Fineman PR, a truly robust monitoring system uses real eyes to assess trends, continuously tracks and notes industry trends and competitor developments, identifies real time conversations by consumers and employees, and uses that information to improve communications. No doubt, building a custom plan will take time and manpower, but the final system will contribute to invaluable insights that will help steer and satisfy your organization’s communications strategy for years to come.
To learn more about Brand PR, Crisis PR, our social media program and Crisis Predictive Tool, contact Fineman PR at 415.392.1000