The limits of social media monitoring

I read this great article from Lee Odden on Mashable and I would like to illustrate some shortcoming of social media monitoring and what it takes to fully reap the benefits of social media in marketing.

Using Lee’s example of  hybrid car, let’s start building a fictive business case: you’re Toyota and you want to use social media to market a new hyper efficient car.

Lee provides us with the a sound social media roadmap:

audience => objective => strategy

and using Radian6, a well-known social monitoring platform, and a series of keywords, Lee comes back with the list below as the target audience, ranked by influence.


The problem is that these blogs may be both very influential on one end and blogs having recently talked about hybrid cars on the other end. But in no way do they define a community. They are therefore of very limited help for social marketing.

Looking closer, it’s  a patchwork of green blogs, auto blogs or blogs that come from the Personal Finance community like GetRichSlowly. We also have sites like Engadget, Digg, Youtube, Autopia and AOL.

What would a real social marketing program for the Highly efficient cars be then ?

1) First, Toyota should define the communities it wants to market to.

They could be the:

  • green community
  • community of car addicts
  • the one of people in market for cars
  • the frugal community

2) Next, Toyota should characterize these communities in terms of:

  • influencers
  • people positive/aware about high efficiency cars
  • people that are negative about high efficiency cars
  • people with existing ties with its competitors
  • and so on

3) Last, Toyota should develop unique strategies for each segment.

Strategies may be just listening, monitoring interest, crowd sourcing ideas or explaining the key benefits of its new offer by participating in the communities (and again, there are tons of ways to do that from buzz to outreach to advertising).

But it’s not a one size fits all:

– for the green community as an example, the challenge for Toyota may be to convince people there is more environmental return in investing in a fuel efficient car than improving one’s house or commuting with other people.

– for the auto community, it could be to demonstrate that it has solved some issues like autonomy on electric cars… or that a car can be fuel efficient and fun, featuring an hybrid nascar car youtube video.

– for the frugal community, it could be providing templates so that the reader can evaluate the ROI of making the move, or advertising financial services that ease the initial purchase.

I’m not a car marketer so this is way oversimplified. The point I want to make is that social/community marketing is mainly executing marketing strategies while leveraging communities and the social web.

It’s not a one click affair and requires a different approach than “conversation monitoring”. It requires a top down approach strongly aligned with a company marketing strategy (that can be fueled by monitoring) and cannot be implemented keywords up.

It takes time.  Most of the benefits come when every marketer in an organization is able to leverage communities and the social web to increase its productivity, maximize the relevance and impact of its action… and measure it … thru monitoring :-).

2 thoughts on “The limits of social media monitoring

  1. The great thing about doing something like this in the age of economy we are experiencing right now is that the car industry is getting back its most-awaited salvation.

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