SM Monitoring: are you REALLY listening?

Over the course of the last weeks I have been talking to, presenting to and listening to a large number of people on social media.  If we consider that social media is about creating content, sharing content and interaction about the content, I can safely assume that the last part requires listening which is minimized by a lot of people and companies.  So if you are not listening, you how can you interact.

I want to address 3 things in this post:

  1. What is monitoring
  2. Real life examples (mine)
  3. Conclusions

If after reading this post you are ready to challenge me, then I look forward to having a constructive discussion.

1. Monitoring

Allow me first to try and define what I mean by “listening” or monitoring as I understand it (and yes, please correct me if I have missed something)

  1. The most recognized form of monitoring is company/brand monitoring.  This falls in the realm of the marketers but a large number struggle how to implement this but at least the awareness is there.
  2. Website monitoring is done by IT.  From this practice stands the action of blocking certain websites such as porn site, but also Facebook, Twitter and/or YouTube.  But what about networking sites such as Netlog,  BEBO, Hi5 or even Hyves.  BTW did you block Chatroulette, 4chan, certain blogs and the like?

I have 2 pieces of bad news.   The first, though this might seems very pragmatic and successful approach on the surface, I hate to disappoint IT and HR people as many employees are switching to devices such as smart phones to update their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Secondly, there are new social media platforms popping up every day and how do you keep track of which ones to block?  Oh yes, when you hear about it in the news… unfortunately, it might be one of your employees getting into the limelight.

3. Outward employees social media monitoring consisting of who of your employees is on social media and what are they saying (about your company, your clients, your partners, your competition or even themselves (in their job)).  This is not only touching many nerves, it is a taboo!

2. Personal examples

That people and companies (in Belgium certainly) are not listening, I would like to demonstrate with 2 personal examples.

First, when I tried to switch from one type of subscription to another within the SAME telecom operator it took 7 days!  I was in their store everyday but posted messages and Twitter and Facebook.  Even wrote an email to their marketing department (I got an answer back 10 days after the problem was solved – BTW the guy did not even take the time to see what my first name was and assumed it was an abbreviation for a female’s name).  Not ONE reaction!  Great opportunity for bashing and bad for customer satisfaction.

Secondly, I took part in a webinar about social media.  It focused for 60% on Twitter alone as what social media is.  I decided to voice my comment and sent a tweet with the fact I was very disappointed about the content.  A great opportunity to engage with a client I thought.  I guess not, since the reaction was: an invite to join their LinkedIn group.   So the listening skills are not there.

But it is not all bad.  I am having problems with my Gowalla account.  I sent a tweet into the world asking for help from anyone who could help me and yes, Gowalla is listening (and hopefully solving my problem).

3. Some conclusions

I have also taken some time to review some monitoring tools.  There is whole list of tools ( – Ken Burbary).   There are some free tools which do a fair job but if you need more there are the paying software subscriptions (mainly targeted at marketers for brand monitoring).  I have signed up for freemium accounts and gotten demonstration of the different platforms.

One concern I want to voice is that all demos are given on the basis of brands such as Audi, Lexus, Coca-Cola, etc.  where there are thousands on conversations taking place every day/week.  So if you miss one there is no big problem.  Looking at where the rubber hits the road, when you talk about small to medium-sized business (in a country like Belgium which is the size of a handkerchief) the number of posts is very small to none existent.  Caution is required.

My other conclusions are today the following:

  • There is not ONE tool that gives you all the answers.
  • Free tools are delivering some good results but you need to do a lot of work after it.
  • Paying platforms deliver a whole range of reports and nicely arranged graphs, data charts etc.
  • Paying platforms seem to be missing social media platforms (LinkedIn being the major one missing or badly covered).

4. Ready to challenge me?

All reactions and comments are welcome.  If you have good or bad examples of social media monitoring feel free to share them with me.  Feel free to challenge me.  My email is


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2 Responses to “SM Monitoring: are you REALLY listening?”

  1. Martin Seibert Says:

    We are creating a social media metrics application at that will centralize all your web stats in one place. We only have twitter, facebook and so far. But I would love to get feedback from you guys about it, as soon as it gets live in the next weeks.

    I think, that TwentyFeet will focus on exactly those company’s, that you describe. Companies, that do not have a lot of mentions. What do you think about it?

  2. micvadam Says:

    Thanks for the feedback. will ake a look at it and share my comments with you. Mic

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