Finally: An actionable guide to social media (Facebook) monitoring

I’ve been working on a comprehensive social media strategy framework for some time. I refine it as I work with more and more clients to make it more robust.

While doing so, I realised there’s a lack of information on social media monitoring and I had to experiment relentlessly to improve my first strategy. Today, I’m going to share about what I’ve come up with, and hopefully you’ll find it useful.

While the focus of my post is on Facebook, you’ll find that most of it also apply to other platforms.

If there’s anything you need help with or you feel that can be improved, do comment below.


  1. All the actionable tips are in bold.
  2. This article only covers social media monitoring; it does not include forms of marketing where you “spy” on competitors.
  3. This is a lengthy article, but you’ll find it rewarding when you get to the end.

To begin, there are 3 groups of people who your business should be primarily interested in:

  1. Your target audience / brand community
  2. Influencers
  3. Competitors


Before we dive deep, I need you to do a bit of prep work

You may not have a brand community yet - but that’s okay. But it’s important that you know exactly who your target audience is before you even put together your social media strategy. A simple guide I use to define my target audience involves answering these 7 questions (courtesy of Seth Godin):

  1. What do they believe?
  2. Who do they trust? (What do they usually read? Whose advice do they listen to?)
  3. What are they afraid of?
  4. Who do they love?
  5. What are they seeking?
  6. Who are their friends?
  7. What do they talk about?

Having a well-defined target audience will help you monitor social media in a more focused way.


1. Monitoring your target audience


Monitoring your Facebook Page

If you have a brand community in form of a Facebook Page, you can first look into either the Review section or the “Recent Posts by Others” section.

The Review section is a good place to hear what fans say about you. Make a point to check that section once a week.

“Recent Posts by Others” section is also a good place to hear what fans say about you. I’d also recommend you to check it once a week. But it is more critical that you respond if necessary. What is necessary for your business will depend on your social media policy - I will be writing more about this in a few weeks.


Monitoring your Social Mentions

To monitor your social mentions, make use of this SCEPI [Cep-Pee] mini framework.


SCEPI Step 1: Search

First, use one of these free social media monitoring tools and search for your brand-related keywords. Having a distinctive brand name certainly helps!


SCEPI Step 2: Classify

Second, classify the mentions under one of these categories: Positive/Neutral/Negative.


SCEPI Step 3: Encourage

Third, encourage. For example, if a comment is positive, can you encourage more of such comments or encourage the commenter to be more specific about his compliment?

For my clients, I often break it into 4 levels:

  • Level I: Thank you. But seriously, go beyond this. Although this is widely considered as a “standard”, I think we can easily do more to make your target audience remember you better.
  • Level II: What did the commenter praise specifically? Reward the named department(s). Highlight the comment in team meetings. Celebrate small wins. I’d suggest avoid gamification (e.g. implementing scoring systems for number of positive letters received) or over-exalting the praise unless it is an actionable KPI that you want to maximise.
  • Level III: Can we do more? The next step is to scale whatever you’re doing right. Excellent customer service? Perhaps you can document what was said or what the approach used was and use it for training purposes to bring all customer-facing officers up to standard.
  • Level IV: Can we involve them? No doubt, comments are easily made today. But even so, positive comments don’t come by easily. This report shows that many more people are willing to share about negative experiences than positive ones. It will be a great idea to know these fans personally by name. Classify them into a special cohort. Offer them something good. Nurture them into brand evangelists. Efforts in these areas are not as measurable via the normal Facebook Insights and tracking system. Instead, you can measure them using specific 3rd party email marketing apps such as Mailchimp. Also, you can conduct Facebook offers for the fans in this cohort, and track conversion via:
    1. No. of Facebook offers claimed; and
    2. No. of fans who really buy your product either online or offline at your store

This is possible to track since they have to show the offer they claimed which is sent to their email address. For online purchases, you can set up a email input form. For offline purchases, simply ask your staff to take note when a purchase through a Facebook offer is made.

Reaching Level IV is tough but it can be potentially rewarding for your business.


SCEPI Step 4: Probe

Whenever I see negative feedback, I like to first decide whether they are empty criticism or constructive feedback.

[blockquote source=”Seth Godin“]Empty criticism and snark does no one any good. But genuine, useful, insightful feedback is a priceless gift.[/blockquote]

If the feedback is constructive, I do 2 things:

  1. Address the problem. What can you fix? What can’t be fixed? Fix those you can; make sure someone is in-charge of fixing and report it once the fix is made.
  2. Address the feedback. Address the feedback TWICE if needed:
    1. When feedback is received
    2. When problem is resolved

That being said, even if the feedback is just empty criticism, don’t stop there! You can try to turn it into a constructive feedback simply by asking if the commenter could specify and elaborate on his complains. If there isn’t any progress, then consider it a lost cause.

On how you should react to negative feedback, read the guest post here.


SCEPI Step 5: Inspect

If the comment is neutral, I will do these 3 things:

  1. Determine if a response is required. If yes, do so as soon as possible.
  2. Ask, “Can I dig deeper? Am I able to steer the conversation further? Will asking a further question help?” If yes, do so.
  3. Add the comments into an excel file for a weekly review. I like to do it immediately in case I forget. If you’re too busy or you don’t want to disrupt your workflow, then schedule a time to do it everyday. Of course, don’t pay too much attention if they don’t make sense or are irrelevant. You don’t have time for time-wasters.


For example, Post Planner regularly posts questions on Facebook. And they often get very good responses. But in this example, you can see that one of the responses “you know”, doesn’t exactly answer their question. This is clearly a neutral comment, which borderline on relevance, but relevance is a topic for another day. Should Post Planner stop here? Or can they do better? I think they can either post a reply to Brendan to ask if he could elaborate OR make a smart guess, perhaps make it humorous so as to make a deep impression on both the commenter and people who see the comments.


2. Monitoring your Influencers

Influencers can be anyone - fans or non-fans - as long as their opinions weigh on your target audience. In general, I consider anyone an influencer as long as more than 1% of my target audience listens to them.

There are many tools readily available to help you pick out your community’s influencers on Twitter, but less so on Facebook. Brandwatch may be useful - but it’s only able to pick out the top fans who post on your Facebook Page. You don’t need a paid tool to do that, although it might need you to do some work.

A free alternative to finding your top fans on Facebook is using SimplyMeasured. Their free reports will show your top fans by number of posts, comments, shares, etc. If you opt for this, do create and update a list of your top fans regularly.

You can also find your fans’ influencers using Graph Search.

Here’s a few brief examples:

  • Most important search: Mutual friends of ____ fans. Not yet available on Graph Search but I believe it will be, soon.
  • A possible search: Favourite Pages of ____ fans. Fill in the blank with your Page name. You’ll usually end up with popular Public Figures, Actors, Artists. If you’re lucky, you might come across small communities which are actually Pages of specific influencers, such as Pamela Lim (whose lengthy posts are often liked by thousands of people)

I will be writing more in detail about using Graph Search this Thursday, so do subscribe to my newsletter here if you want to be updated.

[UPDATE 10/2: I’ve released the update, read it here.]

Beyond Facebook, I suggest that you also consider other social media platforms, because they are not mutually exclusive. In other words, your target audience’s influencers could be more easily found on other social media platforms than Facebook; through finding them on other social media platforms, you might discover their Facebook profiles or you might be able to monitor their activity to see how you can market to them so that they will spread the word for you (organic influencer marketing).

To learn how to find your industry influencers, read this and this.

[UPDATE 10/2: A week after I posted this, InsideFacebook published an interview that showed another way to engage influencers. In short, you invite your existing customers to your event and see who comes. I think that this is a really good read. Read it here.]


3. Monitoring your Competitors

First, name your closest competitors. As a rule of thumb, I like to name 2 key competitors for every client.

Similar to monitoring your brand social mentions, you should also monitor that of your competitors. i.e. What are people saying about your competitors?

Then, simply monitor your competitors’ Facebook Pages. Look out for these things:

  1. Your competitors’ message: What are your competitors conveying to their fans? Is the message consistent based on what you know about them? How does that relate to their positioning compared to yours?
  2. Your competitors’ fans: What are their fans saying? How often are they posting and commenting compared to your fans? Make a list of the top fans who aren’t your fans, and top fans who are. You’ll want to design a different marketing program for these 2 groups of people. For non-fans, can you reach them somewhere else, such as Twitter? Don’t attempt to engage them openly your competitors’ Page (where you might raise the ire of your competitors and cause them to turn aggressive towards you. The last thing you need is an outright marketing war.)
  3. Your competitors’ engagement: What is working for your competitors and what isn’t?

Assuming that you want to learn from your competitors’ mistakes and what they are doing right, I suggest curating a list of 3 things that are working and not working for your competitors once a week. When reviewing this list, watch out for any drastic changes in forms of content or the message they are sending.

And that’s it!


Review: Here’s what you need to do

  1. Check your Review and “Recent Posts by Others” section once a week.
  2. Monitor your social mentions using the SCEPI mini-framework. When responding to comments, do it as soon as you can. Review the comments on a weekly or monthly basis.
  3. Find your top fans using Simply Measured’s free Facebook reports.
  4. Find your fans’ influencers using Facebook Graph Search.
  5. Identify 2 key competitors, and conduct a social mention search of your competitors once a week.
  6. Curate a list of 3 things that are working and not working for your competitors once a week. Focus on the message they send, what their fans say, and response/engagement rates.

Questions? Comment below!

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