Social media monitoring is the broad term for the services and tools you will use to pay attention. It incorporates monitoring, measuring and analyzing Internet-based social media, usually combining automated systems and human insight to turn raw data into useful information.
People are talking about you, your company, your products, and your people. With modern, digital communications tools, they’re publishing their thoughts to a worldwide audience. They write on blogs and in online communities, and they share pictures and videos on popular sites, such as MySpace and YouTube. Paying attention to these online conversations is a new imperative for anyone who cares about their company’s reputation.
Depending on your needs and exposure, you may be able to do your own social media analysis. You’ll use publicly-available search services, such as Google and Technorati, and free or low-cost software, such as RSS readers, to collect and sort data. You might also try the free versions of commercial social media analysis tools that some vendors offer.
Social media analysis services from commercial vendors offer two major advantages over free services: their tools are more advanced and better adapted to large-scale needs, and most offer a layer of human analysis that makes the information more useful.