Debbie Curtis-Magley from UPS spoke at Blogwell yesterday. She spoke about her experience starting up and running a social media monitoring function. Brown has been monitoring the blogosphere for less than a year. In that time, they have accumulated hard won wisdom about the function as well as faced unexpected challenges. Their toolset includes TNS Cymfony and Tweetscan.
Their monitoring has revealed all kinds of conversations about their brand. Some good conversations along with some less than flattering conversations. One of their first key lessons learned is that monitoring and analyzing the blogosphere can be overwhelming because of the sheer volume of content. There are so many references to their brand that they’ve resigned themselves to the fact that they won’t be able to read everything. Some things will slip by. The best they can do is to sample the content and make inferences based on that sample.
The UPS experience suggests that there are some key considerations before embarking on a blog monitoring program.
1) Ask yourself what do you want to learn from the program. How are you going to use that information? UPS is interested in:
General Brand Conversations – degree of chatter that mentions your brand
Reputation topics – monitor issues that represent opportunities or threats
Business Industry sectors – brands role within market sectors
From a PR perspective, UPS looks for message playback. Are the messages being understood and repeated? Understanding how UPS is mentioned is often translated into opportunities for improvement.
2) Recognize the limitations of monitoring
UPS appears in many off topic posts about pushups or meetups or universal power supplies. All of them have the letters UPS in the string. Between that and mentions of people that are selling products and shipping via UPS, there’s lots of noise to filter out. UPS engages in a great deal of thought and work around filtering out the noise. Automated tools are useful but have limitations. They filter and organize but they haven’t found them useful for analyzing content. Some tools that algorythmically score positive and negative sentiment, but you really need human intervention to understand context and sentiment.
UPS decided to handle monitoring internally and devotes staff to conversational analysis. Each staffer gets one topic per day to monitor and they spend about an hour per day monitoring. That gets a good representative sample of conversations. UPS uses receptionists for staffing the monitoring function.
3) Understanding trends in conversations.
Look at conversations over time. That helps validate if there are issues to be resolved. They also track accomplishments and try to understand the effectivness of their messaging. Are the messages being repeated and understood? Monitoring shows which messages resonate.
Analysis is done in-house. Staff collects monitoring data on worksheets, then they analyze and write custom reports. The manager gives guidance of what the staff needs to look for, but the staff identifies the blogs and conversations. UPS measures the volume of conversations on particular topics, determines the share of voice for UPS and their competition, identify key influencers and issues and gauges the tone of conversations (positive, neutral or negative).
4) Internal blogs
UPS leverages their employees for internal blogs. Drivers, package handlers, etc… they blogged and vlogged from the company’s Centennial celebration. The staff blogged from the Beijing Olympics (UPS was a sponsor). As a NASCAR sponsor, they blog about that, too. The internal blogging program is very popular with their employees.