Social Media Analytics for Small Businesses

Social media monitoring: practical guidelines and suitable tools

Quick start: Our 3 recommendations for your start

If you are currently setting up your PR professionally, we recommend our guidelines for press work, our free template for your press release and our tips for creating your social media strategy.

What you can find out about social media monitoring here

In this post you will learn what social media monitoring exactly includes, why it can add value for your company and which (inexpensive) tools facilitate the analysis of social networks. The following questions are answered:

  1. What exactly is social media monitoring?
  2. What functions do Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics offer?
  3. Which do not and where do professional tools apply?
  4. What tools are there and what are the differences?
  5. What do tools for social media monitoring cost?
  6. Tool selected: what's next? (Guideline)
  7. What mistakes should I avoid in social media monitoring?

Do you want to make your company better known? Use our guidelines on press relations to communicate professionally with journalists. There we clarify the 21 most important questions about PR at a glance.

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What is social media monitoring?

Almost every German company above a certain size has at least one account in a social network these days. If you decide to have your company present on social media, you should first carefully choose which channels are best and develop a strategy. In the strategy, among other things, goals are set which, ideally, are formulated SMART, i.e.:

  • Specific, i.e. clearly defined.
  • Measurable, i.e. you have to define criteria for measurability.
  • Appropriate, i.e. these goals must be accepted by the target group.
  • Realistic, i.e. the implementation must be feasible.
  • Scheduled, i.e. you should set a date for the achievement of all goals.

You can find out whether your goals were SMART and can be achieved or you have already achieved them through social media monitoring.

But not only numbers such as reach, interaction rate or number of fans and followers are considered here. This is much more of a part of classic social media analysis. During monitoring, the social media are primarily searched for information and users that could be relevant for your company as a stakeholder. Because your goals should not only include increasing the number of clicks, fans / followers or leads. According to the results of various surveys, one of the main goals of many companies is

  • build or improve an image through social media,
  • increase brand awareness and
  • To win customers or to intensively cultivate existing customer relationships.

As part of social media monitoring, you can define keywords on the basis of which all channels are searched. In this way, you not only find out whether influencers, i.e. people who are assessed as opinion-forming, are talking about your industry or your company. Critics and competitors as well as blogs and forums etc. can also be kept in view. Compared to the classic social media analysis, which is carried out at regular intervals (e.g. monthly or quarterly), the monitoring runs permanently with the help of tools. In this way, for example, you can quickly become aware of a problem and counteract it, even in a crisis situation. As with Google, you can subscribe to alerts, i.e. notifications that inform you about an upcoming topic.

Basic information for social media analysis

Facebook and Twitter, probably the best-known social networks in Germany, offer some basic functions that are important for social media analysis.

You can find some figures for your analysis on Facebook by adding "/ insights /" to the URL or in the "Statistics" tab at the top. These statistics are particularly helpful for the reach, the page views and the development of "likes". You can also "keep an eye on the pages", i.e. enter your competitors in a list in order to see the development of these key figures in comparison.

Facebook also offers an insight into your target group, i.e. demographic data such as gender, age or place of residence, as well as times when your users are particularly often online. The interaction rate is also particularly exciting, as it calculates how many interactions (i.e. likes, shares, comments, links or clicks) you have received in relation to the range. A two-digit number can be classified as very good.

Twitter Analytics offers comparable numbers. You can keep an eye on clicks, impressions, follower numbers, etc. on this free page. Monthly overviews showing the tweet highlights, i.e. the tweets with the greatest reach and the most interactions, are also clearly listed here.

The platforms themselves already provide basic functions for analyzing your social networks. But even if the boundaries are sometimes blurred: Social media monitoring encompasses much more than mere analysis. Tools can help you with this.

What is the use of a tool for social media monitoring?

Tools for social media monitoring offer numerous functions that are no longer covered in the context of smaller analyzes by offers such as Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics. This includes, for example, the closer observation of competitors, current topics and opinions. You should use tools if the following aspects are important to you:

  • comprehensive competition analyzes and comparisons
  • Key figures for the classification or development of your own image
  • Screening of top topics and trends
  • Get to know the target group better
  • Observe opinions about your own company
  • Acquire opinion leaders / influencers
  • early detection of emerging shitstorms
  • Use of data for process / product optimization

Suitable tools for your social media monitoring

There are many offers for social media monitoring tools. On the one hand, of course, they differ in price. There are also social media monitoring tools that cover multiple platforms and those that focus on one platform. There are also significant differences in functions. Some tools allow the cross-platform advance planning of entries, but the details of the competition analyzes and other features can also be different.

Further distinctions exist with regard to

  • the handling: is there an app? Is the layout appealing? Do I find my way around well? and
  • the language (many tools are only available in English).

No matter which tool you are considering, we recommend that you use a test phase in advance. This is offered by almost all companies.

Three affordable tools for beginners

Inexpensive tools for social media monitoring are recommended to get started, especially for founders with a smaller budget. Since Facebook and Twitter are among the most widely used platforms, we present three inexpensive tools below that cover these channels in particular.

1. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is particularly suitable for beginners, as it is free for individuals and at 7.99 euros per month means a low financial risk for companies and has a relatively large number of functions. The tool offers extensive options for analysis, but is also particularly well suited for teams. Regardless of location or department, comments, messages or mentions can be answered centrally on a dashboard.

In the corporate version, up to 50 channels (free version up to 3) can be managed centrally and contributions can be planned in advance for specific target groups. You can also screen customer opinions. If you want to expand the analysis and organization of your platforms, Hootsuite is perfectly adequate. If you want to rely on a comprehensive competition analysis, the options here are quickly exhausted.

  • Free for individuals
  • For small businesses: 7.99 euros per month

2. Audiense (formerly Social Bro)

Audiense is only for Twitter, but very extensive and also free of charge. The tool offers very extensive and detailed analyzes, for example of your perfect tweet times, or extensive competitor comparisons. In addition, influencers can be identified using the tool and followers can be divided into thematically meaningful groups. This tool is definitely worthwhile for those who are intensively on Twitter.

3. Buffer Respond

With Buffer Respond you can plan and distribute content. For Twitter, however, Buffer Respond also offers options for answering user queries and comprehensively analyzing up to five channels. You can also communicate with unconnected followers, so Buffer Respond is already going in a similar direction to Hootsuite. For those who use Facebook intensively, Hootsuite is more advisable.

  • Basic version (1 user, 1 account) free of charge
  • Pro version (multiple users, 5 accounts) approx. 40 euros per month

Paid tools for comprehensive monitoring

The functionality of free or inexpensive tools is limited. In particular, if you rely on Facebook and want more than just good organization and planning, these paid tools can quickly pay off:

  • Echo bot (from 249 euros / month), advantage: contact persons are based in Germany and work according to German data protection guidelines
  • Radarly (from 650 euros / month), advantage: all-in-one solution including CRM system, etc.
  • Talkwalker (from 500 euros / month), advantage: includes all social networks as well as forums, blogs and news sites

There are also special tools for Instagram, YouTube or other platforms. In particular, the topic of influencer marketing has recently gained in importance and numerous start-ups have taken on this topic.

  • CrossEngage collects data to follow users across different channels and devices. With its own tracking solution, CrossEngage collects these via a shop system or CRM systems, for example. At the end, it is determined which user should receive which campaign via which channel.
  • Remerge can bring users back from other apps to their own app through personalized advertising. This works by dividing them into different groups. For example, users who have canceled a purchase process then receive product recommendations.

HitchOn, Insocial Media, Media-Part, ReachHero, Influting, Buzzbird or Addfame - these are the names of other start-ups that offer similar services. Their common goal: to win important personalities who have many fans or followers on social media for major marketing campaigns.

Monitoring is only one part that contributes to the success of an overall strategy for social networks. But this part alone can take a lot of time. Find out here which tasks a social media manager can support you with to implement your strategy and when it is worthwhile for your company.

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Practical Guide: Doing Social Media Monitoring Correctly

When you have decided on a tool, the main thing is to determine which goals you are pursuing based on your strategy and which questions are to be answered. So you define an analysis design and then collect the data. Then prepare this data, analyze it and see whether you have achieved your goals. This is followed by reporting and, if necessary, appropriate adjustments. Then the process starts all over again. Social media monitoring can therefore be seen as a cycle that has to be adapted again and again.

It is important that you operate the monitoring continuously. For the classic analysis, i.e. the development of the number of followers, interaction and reach, smaller monthly reports and larger target reviews / adjustments every half year or year are suitable. The classic social media monitoring of topics and influencers ideally runs daily. Whether this makes sense, of course, depends on the size of the company and the general corporate goals. For start-ups that are developing towards a brand, this is certainly a more important concern than for a smaller founder, service provider or consultant. A PR agency specializing in social media can also help you with social media monitoring.

Five mistakes to avoid when analyzing

You should definitely avoid these five things in your social media monitoring in order to generate long-term success.

  1. Define competitors incorrectly or not include them in the analysis
    The competition analysis is relevant beyond your business plan. You should also keep an eye on your competitors on social media and know which campaigns and topics they are publishing. You should also observe the topics on which the fans of the competitors interact particularly well.
  2. Disregard the language of your customers
    Do you use social media monitoring to get to know your customers better? What topics are you interested in? What language do you use? How old are you and where are you from? You can use all this data to further develop your strategy.
  3. Not taking feedback seriously or not responding to it
    Use any type of feedback to increase your interaction. Social media monitoring with the help of tools enables you to list all comments and mentions of your company - even on external pages. Sometimes a simple "thank you" is enough to attract attention.
  4. Being slow and / or not turning recognized trends into ideas
    Social media monitoring brings you a lot of topics and ideas. But these often have to be implemented at short notice in order to keep up with the competition. Depending on the extent of your use of social networks, you should decide to hire a social media manager.
  5. Monitoring is not a one-off thing
    Social media is changing rapidly. Use social media monitoring continuously to observe current developments and incorporate them into your strategy. You should review your goals at regular intervals; smaller monthly reports and larger annual reports are worthwhile. Often, however, speed is also required (see point 4).

Conclusion

Nowadays, social media monitoring is mandatory if you want to advance your channels in social networks. This enables you to identify trends and topics at an early stage and at the same time learn a lot about your own company and your competitors. You can use these results immediately for your own social media work.

Classic analysis data, i.e. numbers such as reach, interaction and fans / followers, also help here. Which posts went particularly well? Are there any patterns? Can you deliver more of this type of content? See social media monitoring as a cycle that leads you to ever better results and that must be operated continuously in order to be successful. Tools make your work easier and our examples show that tools don't always have to be expensive. There are also some options for smaller companies.

In order for the channels to run well, of course, the most important thing is the content and the right way to address the right target group. To do this, choose the right platforms right from the start, on which you can really reach your target group, and read here how to write the perfect Facebook post. The job description of the social media manager has established itself in recent years. Read on here to find out exactly which tasks it takes on and what budget you need to plan for this.

Author: Für-Gründer.de editors

As editor-in-chief, René Klein has been responsible for the content of the portal and all publications by Für-Gründer.de for over 10 years. He is a regular interlocutor in other media and writes numerous external specialist articles on start-up topics. Before his time as editor-in-chief and co-founder of Für-Gründer.de, he advised listed companies in the field of financial market communication.