Professionals in nearly every industry rely on information from local and national print, TV, radio, online, and social media sources in some way or another. It’s not just communications and public relations pros that benefit.
As I’ve written previously, media monitoring is a valuable tool, allowing you to interpret and understand the impact of that coverage. It also helps you demonstrate the true value of your communications and public relations efforts. So it makes sense that monitoring is often thought of in the context of PR when in reality, it’s so much more robust than that.
Let me count the ways — your competition uses media monitoring
Many public relations, marketing and communications pros already do some form of monitoring. It may be through Google Alerts, RSS feeds, free tracking tools, social platform notifications, paid monitoring tools and services, or some combination.
Regardless of industry, there are myriad ways to use monitoring for purposes other than just earned media tracking. Here are nine ways your competitors are using media (including social) monitoring.
Discover trends that affect your industry. Spotting trends is fundamentally about pattern recognition. Monitoring, combined with layers of analysis, is necessary before declaring a trend’s implications for your business sector. It’s easy to assert something is a trend. It’s another thing to have the data to back up your claim. Trend-spotting helps clarify your organization’s vision and create or adjust actionable strategies. Change is constant, and smart business leaders understand this is a continuous and necessary exercise.
Gain competitive insights, including share of voice (SOV). Share of voice is an essential marketing key performance indicator (KPI) because SOV and market share are closing tied. SOV was traditionally a measure of advertising compared to competitors. Now, in our multifaceted omnichannel environment, the definition is broader and indicates your brand’s visibility in the overall market. Monitoring rivals’ new product or service launches and press releases alert you to what’s going on in the competitive landscape. It may also alert you to new up-and-coming challengers in your market.
Find potential trademark misappropriation or copyright infringement. Intellectual property (IP) theft and misuse are rampant. An IP law firm, Horgan says, “This is more important than ever in the age of globalization when your trademark could be used by a competitor down the road just as easily as by a business halfway around the world.” They go on to explain that misuse of your trademark could cost your company revenue, especially if defective products or services are seemingly linked with your brand. If you fail to protect your trademark from infringement, it could lead to its losing “value and being deemed a generic term, at which point any protection would not be enforceable.” Monitoring text and images across multiple platforms, including the US Patent and Trademark (USPTO) journal, is essential to find otherwise hidden mentions or uses.
Uncover new business opportunities. Nearly every company is looking for new business. Media monitoring can help you gain access to new markets and business opportunities. The editorial team at Indeed recently wrote, “Looking at the demographics, regions and other information from media monitoring can help you direct your business’s expansion. It can also help you identify upcoming populations or regions that may want your business’s products or services later and help you plan for long-term growth.”
Perform market research. The kind of data you need and how much money you’re spending will influence which methods you choose. Traditionally, market research has employed techniques such as online, telephone and mailed surveys, personal interviews, focus groups, field trials and customer observation. However, all research methods can be costly, time-consuming, and biased. That’s all part of why ‘remote’ observation through social listening is ideal. You have the chance to see and analyze what your target audience is talking about and sharing across various platforms. Social media monitoring offers real-time, unfiltered and relatively unbiased information gathering. Social listening goes a step further by synthesizing the data into analytics you can use.
Track user-generated content (UGC). Because the content (images, hashtags, videos, text) comes from other humans, UGC is viewed as more authentic than company-produced content. No, I’m not talking about influencer marketing—I’m talking about real non-paid people, whether they are enthusiastic devotees or haters. Their content amplifies your or your rivals’ brand or message, and you need to know what they’re saying. In fact, a 2021 survey showed that 90% of consumers agree that authenticity is a crucial factor when deciding what brands to buy from. Their feedback about the products, services and tactics is vital in order to improve. When you listen, you can better align your offerings with the needs and wants of your target audience.
Understand customer service issues. This is similar to #4 in uncovering new business opportunities and #6 in tracking UGC content. Monitoring can help you understand your competitors’ pain points and complaints. This may lead to a new customer, and it may not. Either way, you can discover missteps committed by your others before you make the same mistake(s).
Get ideas for content marketing through a content gap analysis. Content gap analysis refers to topics your audience is reacting to and engaging with that are not currently covered in your own content. By monitoring and analyzing the content your adversaries are creating and who is interacting with it, you may find a content gap.
Correct or combat misinformation, disinformation, and misinformation. Incorrect information can cause reputational damage and pose a real threat to a brand or company’s bottom line. Reputation relies on trust, a significant element of sales growth, customer retention and the overall value of that business. Rebuilding trust after a crisis is incredibly more difficult than earning and maintaining it, so nipping bad information in the bud is essential.
In addition to these nine ways your competitors are using social and media monitoring, there are more. For communications and public relations pros, it usually ties back to earned media, brand awareness, media relations, crisis communications, campaign launch benchmarking, or end-of-campaign evaluation and measurement.
And as I’ve said before, sometimes it isn’t about discovering where you or your competitors are mentioned, but instead determining where you or they are not being discussed!