While the terms Social Media Management and Social Media Monitoring might sound very similar, how does one distinguish between the two, Seth Redmore, CMO, Lexalytics, has the answer for you.
Sure, the names are similar, but social media management and social media monitoring aren’t interchangeable. In fact, the difference between the two is as distinct as optometry and ophthalmology, two disciplines that deal with the same subject in very different ways.
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Just as you wouldn’t want to mix up your eye doctors, you don’t want to mix up your social media monitoring with its management counterpart. Let’s explore the difference between the two so that if you’re in the market for a social media service you can pick the one with the right functionality.
Social media management is reactive
Of our two SMMs, social media management is the one you’re probably most familiar with. It’s the thing that your social media manager does, usually through a tool like Hootsuite, Falcon.io, or Sprout Social.
The person in charge of your social media management generally has two tasks: drive engagement and respond to brewing brand crises. The content creation side of their job is fairly proactive (scheduling posts in advance). But the actual reputation management side is usually reactive.
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Why is this? A couple of reasons. First, your social media manager has to deal with a huge volume of comments and messages in real-time as they come in. Second, the tools they use tend to only offer superficial analytics capabilities. In other words, your team can probably react to complaints readily enough. But they’re not positioned to anticipate them.
Say a social media manager starts seeing a spike in negative posts containing the word “dress.” They may be able to drill down into the posts that are driving this spike to see what exactly people are disappointed about. Then your team can start responding to posts or comments, or even publish an apology and explanation. But they can only do this after the fact.
A social media management tool isn’t an extra brain
While plenty of data flows through your social media management system, there’s no “brain” working behind the scenes to flag potential issues before they arise. Or at least, there isn’t a brain your team has access to (unless you’re paying big money for very deep access). Instead, the onus falls on your team to be that brain, and to filter and process information accordingly.
Still, while social media management is important for brand reputation, it isn’t as critical as your actual product and business development. There are benefits to having an AI resource integrated into your social media marketing team. But in the end, the ROI usually isn’t enough to justify itself. That extra brainpower might be fun, but it would probably be wasted.
However, if you’re looking to leverage social data to inform a high-value decision (like the design direction of your next product), the added functionality of an AI can be a major value add.
Leveraging data to help define your new products, processes or approaches is called social media monitoring. You can think of it as the ophthalmologist to social media management’s optometrist.
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Social media monitoring is proactive
Social media monitoring is much broader than social media management and focuses more on observation than reaction. It leverages sophisticated technologies like machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to help you make associations, draw trends and inform potential next steps for your company.
Where social media management is reactive, social media monitoring is proactive — and handles a more sophisticated problem set.
If social media management is the remit of your more junior staff, social media monitoring is the realm of your experienced employees. This is where your analysts and product managers come in: the people in charge of defining the direction of your company and how you’ll get there.
Interestingly, social media monitoring is the technology that underpins the platforms used in social media management. This tech is how your social media team gets access to those beautifully-visualized trending topics and terms. So why do most social media management platforms only give your social media team access to the tip of the data iceberg?
There are a few reasons for this limited access, mainly to do with cost and necessity. Licensing isn’t cheap, and there’s no point in giving a social media team access to all the data in the world if they only need a small portion of it to do their jobs successfully. For them, basic keyword search and engagement visualizations are plenty.
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Your product development and analytics teams, on the other hand, can leverage this same underlying data to produce big ROI. Where your social media team might respond to customer complaints about airport wayfinding with apologies and gift vouchers, your product development and analytics team can use that same data to inform the design of your next airport terminal.
One facilitates a short-term win; the other a long-term win.
So, which SMM is for you?
Most high-growth companies today aren’t using one or the other of the SMMs, but a mix of the two. That’s because each technology has a different function — just like the teams who use them. Your marketers will do just fine with a management platform, while your analysts need a monitoring solution to do their best work.