How to use Twitter Lists as a free social media monitoring tool

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To-do list book.
Image by koalazymonkey via Flickr

We’ve posted before about why Twitter lists are great and some of the uses that can be made with them. Over the last few weeks since they were launched to all users, we have been experimenting with them at FreshNetworks and with our clients. One clear and valuable use for them has become clear - as a free social media monitoring tool. Here’s a guide to how you can use Twitter Lists in this way.

Twitter Lists for social media monitoring

Social media monitoring is the best way for brands to understand who is currently talking about them online, what they are saying, to whom and where. They can analyse the sentiment expressed (are people broadly positive or negative to them) and identify individuals who are promoters or detractors of a brand. Whilst it may not be appropriate to react or respond to their posts, monitoring these people can be a useful exercise. Knowing what your promoters are saying about you and where, and tracking the sentiment of detractors. Are they becoming more positive to your brand or more negative. Who are they talking to and influencing, and what are they saying.

So it’s important that when you identify Detractors, you have a mechanism for keeping track of what they are saying online. This is where Twitter Lists come in useful.

Twitter Lists can make it very easy to group your Promoters and Detractors and have an easy and accessible source to find out what they are saying online. Putting all of your Detractors in a List means that they are in one place. When you find a new Detractor online you can put them in this List, and if somebody stops being a Detractor you can move them from it.

This use of Twitter Lists is effective for two reasons:

  1. As a brand, you can put somebody into a List without having to be following them. If you have an powerful Detractor online, you may not want to follow them from your branded Twitter account, but you may want to keep track of what they say.
  2. Twitter Lists can be private. You probably wouldn’t want a list of your brand’s biggest Detractors to be shared online. All the people who hate you most in one convenient list. Because Twitter Lists can be made private, you can mitigate the risk of people finding this. You know and can monitor who they are, without sharing this information with other people.

So Twitter Lists can be a great, and free, social media monitoring tool. Identify the people who love or hate your brand most, or who write about your brand most online and then put them into Lists. Have a List of Detractors, a List of Promoters and a List of Ones to Watch. Make these Lists private and, if you don’t want to, don’t even follow the people you put into the List.

Then track what they say. Follow the List, read the comments and learn on a daily basis what your Promoters and Detractors think and say about you. Easy! The hard work begins when you try to change opinions or harness those who are positive about your brand.

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The impact of the internet on customer behaviour

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A few weeks ago I posted about the impact of the internet on customer behaviour, Internet: twice as influential as TV; eight times as print media. This looked at a study, tracking and measuring the impact of the internet on consumer behaviour across three European countries (UK, France and Germany), suggests that the internet is twice as influential as television and eight times as influential as print media. These findings come from the Digital Influence Index study from PR firm Fleishman-Hillard and research firm Harris Interactive.

The study found that consumers were more likely to seek, and then to trust, reviews of products and services online than on television or in print media. They go to social media and product rating sites to get information on products, even if they don’t buy them online; trusting the opinions of others more than the push messaging of traditional advertising approaches. They go to the corporate sites when they want a more transactional experience, or are buying more commoditised items like utilities or airline-tickets.

I have come across the slides that support this presentation and thought I’d post them here.

  • Internet Nearly Twice as Influential as TV in UK, Germany, France
  • News From Adland : TV And The Web Are Different
  • Internet set to displace magazines as third largest ad medium
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Some debate on the influence of the Internet

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So we’ve been doing some server work here at FreshNetworks and managed to lose an exchange earlier today on yesterday’s post: Internet: twice as influential as TV; eight times as print media. Simon’s comments were really interesting so it’s a shame they got lost; I thought I’d just post them here instead.

Simon

While I think the recommendations for embracing the online and social element are spot on, I take issue with the scale of the index.

Indexes are a fantastic way of boiling down opinion into a key metric. But in this case, it is based on people rationalising an emotion. How does one quantify and distribute influence? The Internet, as a repository of information and channel of communication and commerce is undoubtedly important, but I think its value is overstated. TV and press retain a large influence, but it may be earlier and less conscious that the Internet. These therefore shouldn’t be overlooked, particularly once synergies and media multiplier effects are counted into.

As you mention, the way that Internet drives is also very category specific. On some occasions it is as word of mouth recommendation, on others it is as a trusted transactional offering. It is of vital importance to distinguish between these and take action appropriate to your particular offering.

Still, it was a very thought-provoking study, and credit to Harris Interactive and Fleishman Hillard for adding to the conversation

I agree with what Simon says and have been mulling this over myself. Measuring influence or intent are notoriously difficult and I suspect the results of the study are worth some deeper investigation. We know that people trust recommendations from others more than they do marketing messages from the brand. And people probably associate the Internet more with the wealth of customer-created content; by contrast they associate TV and print media with the traditional advertising. They probably don’t think of the influence of a recommendation in You Magazine or on Loose Women, yet this kind of influence is no doubt huge. I know many brands who know that getting coverage in either of these places is one of the most successful ways of influencing customers.

So where does this leave us? I suspect that Internet is more influential than TV or print, but would like to investigate more the reason or source of this increased influence. I also think we should be comparing like-for-like. How does a recommendation on a TV show compare with personal recommendations online.

As Simon says - a good debate should be started here.

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Internet: twice as influential as TV; eight times as print media

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A new study, tracking and measuring the impact of the internet on consumer behaviour across three European countries (UK, France and Germany), suggests that the internet is twice as influential as television and eight times as influential as print media. These findings come from the Digital Influence Index study from PR firm Fleishman-Hillard and research firm Harris Interactive.

The study found that consumers were more likely to seek, and then to trust, reviews of products and services online than on television or in print media. They go to social media and product rating sites to get information on products, even if they don’t buy them online; trusting the opinions of others more than the push messaging of traditional advertising approaches. They go to the corporate sites when they want a more transactional experience, or are buying more commoditised items like utilities or airline-tickets.

There was evidence in the study of a disconnect between the sources people go to for information and the trust they put in these. In the UK, for example, 66% of online consumers said that the internet helps them to make better decisions, while only 28% actually trust the information companies provide on the web.

These findings are interesting and suggest that firms need to address these changing attitudes towards influence sooner rather than later. If online is eight times as influential as print media, then a significant push should be made towards getting your online presence right.

People like reviews and opinions, they want information from people like them rather than from the organisation making and selling the product. This is why people trust information from companies online less than they might. The best thing a company can do is to create an environment where people can post reviews and opinions. Join this conversation online and help to facilitate it.

We know that people trust each other more than they are likely to trust messages pushed out on corporate sites. So embracing the social element of online should be top of all brand’s marketing plans.

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