Implementing social media: brand monitoring

Table of contents for Keys to Implementing Social Media series

  1. Implementing social media: the adoption matrix
  2. Implementing social media: brand monitoring

tl;dr: So you’ve been tasked with “tackling” social media for your organization: now what? At the EyeForPharma eMarketing Summit 2010 in Berlin, I presented “5 Keys to Implementing Social Media,” a framework to help you define your organization’s social media activity. This post summarizes the first key, monitoring your brand online. As a disclaimer, I am the co-founder of a brand monitoring service for the life sciences industry.

If markets are conversations …

“Any savvy party goer knows to listen before jumping into a conversation at a cocktail party.” –Jeremiah Owyang, Partner, Altimeter Group

“There’s no tagline” to conversations, according to the Cluetrain Manifesto: “For thousands of years, we knew exactly what markets were: conversations between people who sought out others who shared the same interests. Buyers had as much to say as sellers. They spoke directly to each other without the filter of media, the artifice of positioning statements, the arrogance of advertising, or the shading of public relations.”

All sellers and brands may not be fully aware yet (see the social media adoption matrix) but their consumers sure are talking about them. Whether you believe these interactions should be called “conversations” or “self-publishing,” research by Penn State University found that “20 percent of all tweets—or one out of every five updates—mention specific brand names or products.” As for the value of these tweets? “There’s room to glean qualitative analysis about brand perception and affinity from them, at least.” –Jim Jansen, Penn State (and some “Companies court tweeters and bloggers“).

A large proportion of these conversations are related to health. According to Pew Internet, 61% of American adults look online for health information (June 2009).

Fully 42% of all adults, or 60% of e-patients, say they or someone they know has been helped by following medical advice or health information found on the internet.

In Germany alone, “there are more than 100 health-related search queries per second,” according to Jens Monsees from Google, citing 2010 search stats at EyeForPharma in Berlin.

… are you listening?

According to Jeremiah Owyang, “In the social media communications lifecycle [pictured above], companies often fail to listen …. One of the biggest problems for [online] communicators today, just like a real conversation, is learning to listen.”

For example, do you know:

  • Whether your clients and consumers are mentioning your brands, products, and service experiences?
  • What are physicians discussing online, and who’s becoming influential?
  • How do patients feel about your brand?
  • Is the medical content accurate?
  • Is your promotional activity effective?
  • In what context are your brands mentioned?

By becoming aware of your online mentions throughout social media sites and platforms (see the conversation prism), you will effectively and quickly gain new insights, to:

  • Understand your customers and your community
  • See how and where your brands are mentioned
  • Pinpoint customer satisfaction issues
  • Find out what really concerns physicians and patients
  • What and where is the false information?
  • How are competing brands perceived?

Social media monitoring tools help keep your team organized and on top of market trends. For example, like a canary in the coal mine, online mentions of Avandia were clearly multiplying preceding the announcement of the drug’s recall. On a more positive note, the buzz on Herceptin increased five folds following publication in Europe’s Lancet about positive results clinical trials for Herceptin, a part of the chemotherapy regimen for HER2 protein positive breast cancer (The Lancet, 2002). However, some physicians and patients had allegedly been using Herceptin treatment before chemotherapy, to reduce the size of lumps in HER-2 positive patients, and sharing their experiences online. After recent clinical trials were performed, these proved the drug did indeed improve progression-free survival before starting the chemotherapy regimen (The Lancet, January 2010).

That’s all very well, but how does one keep track of online mentions?

Brand monitoring platforms

There’s a growing category of Software as a Service called brand monitoring, with a number of systems that work to collect and analyze the online buzz about your brand and the key words that matter to you. Rather than conducting daily manual searches through blog search engines, these systems are convenient when you need to perform the following activities:

  1. Pull mentions from blogs, videos, medical resources and forums, patient and physician social networks;
  2. Track specific topics, drugs, disease, therapeutic areas;
  3. Graphically display daily mentions, rolling averages;
  4. Conduct sentiment analysis and other types of data mining;
  5. Create automatic alerts for unusual or increased online mentions activity;
  6. Filter out low-value or irrelevant mentions;
  7. Delegate mentions for further action by your team;
  8. Ticket mentions to keep track of issue resolution and problem solving;
  9. Annotate and archive mentions for record keeping and future retrieval;
  10. Export weekly, monthly, or quarterly internal reports;
  11. Post responses on social sites like Twitter;
  12. and more.

Your social media business case and resource allocation

When considering social media for your organization, there are few steps as important as understanding where you fit in the conversation online. Social media monitoring allows you to more effectively manage your reputation, track your competitors, and monitor market trends. As a side benefit, what you find out in terms of the quality, volume, and scope of mentions online regarding your key terms will help you create the business case for social media adoption (or not) by your organization, and determine the resources you will require.

If you are interested in the “5 Keys to Social Media Implementation” and the “Social Media Adoption Matrix”, please see the full deck on Slideshare:

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