3 guidelines for using social media monitoring during a PR crisis

Automated systems do help you know what people say about your brand online, but they can’t do everything.

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.

What these examples show us is that more companies and their PR partners could use social media not only for engagement with key audiences, but to defend and protect brands by identifying potential threats. It can also assess trends and pounce on strategic opportunities. Tuned-in organizations realize that social media improves their businesses and fine-tunes critical customer service, employee relations and operations, one tweet or snap at a time.

Sure, a media monitoring service for capturing print and online placements, broadcast segments and general mentions is crucial. But traditional monitoring only goes so far. You may miss conversations or shares on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and other sites rich in everyday conversation, shareable visuals and personal revelations that could affect your brand. Standard old-style monitoring is valuable, but it can’t hope to capture insights a more robust system will corral.

Here are a few tips for vigilant monitoring:

Never underestimate 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 handmade undergarments crafted from your company’s logo t-shirt (true story), or Facebook photos of build-your-own furniture made from your product’s packaging, or an Instagram video of a company driver shouting obscenities while transporting your product, you’ll be grateful for the chance to repay appreciation, express regret, or ensure safety.

Don’t just watch, take action. Track public conversations about your brand and then categorize these fans geographically. Make a note of their profile and location for targeted outreach and engagement. Note dissatisfaction or opportunities for improvement. Keep a log of customer and consumer feedback for planning and message nuances.

Don’t just read an article. Digest it! Even with a traditional monitoring service, more can be done to get better results. What do influencers write about? What angles have been covered that you should avoid? Which articles on your industry or product get the highest visibility and readership? Which visuals go viral? What phrases resonate with media? What do the comments reveal about the issue or consumers’ perceptions of it? Digesting and learning from news coverage gives you the knowledge to supply critical context to clients, adjust messages, and home in on your next story angle.

A version of this article originally appeared on Fineman PR’s blog.


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