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hands-woman-laptop-notebookBy: Marie Bernadeau, PR Account Executive

It’s no secret that social media has transformed the way people communicate and interact. People use social media to share their interests with friends and family, as well as to spark conversations that have the potential to reach a wider audience. With a number of social media sites allowing users to follow companies and create tags for specific brands, businesses now recognize the importance of social media and connecting with customers on a more consistent basis.

More importantly, companies are increasingly aware that consumers use social media not only to express brand loyalty, but to vent frustrations regarding a bad experience with a particular brand.  With social media enabling consumers to drive the communication, public relations professionals have been tasked with the tedious job of monitoring and listening to conversations designed to evaluate their communication efforts.

How social media monitoring tools work

Because social media encompasses channels such as social media sites, blogs, wikis, and podcasts, PR professionals need monitoring and listening tools to gain insight into how a particular brand is being perceived in the market. Although monitoring and listening are often used interchangeably, there are distinctions between the two.

Social media monitoring is reactive, involving monitoring social media channels to spot mentions of keywords such as brand names, product names, and key spokespeople. Social media listening takes a more integrated approach that includes not only listening to conversations, but using the information to gain insight into customer sentiment. PR professionals can configure these tools to track and monitor conversations that are relevant to a particular brand, then use analytics tools to measure how communication efforts have affected the social conversation.