As long as social media has been around, brands have worked to interact with consumers online to figure out what they want and how to satisfy those expectations. This has traditionally been achieved through social media listening and monitoring. These tools have provided a way for companies to understand what’s happening on their brand-owned social media channels concerning their products, services—and even competitors.
On the surface, social media listening and monitoring seem like they’re the same. In reality, the two have significant distinctions. Social media monitoring refers to search and collecting data and information, and social media listening analyzes that data to find trends, insights, and information that can inform strategic planning.
In essence, social monitoring finds the information, and social listening tells you why you should care.
Recently, some of the more advanced social media monitoring tools have advanced these efforts with artificial intelligence to review massive amounts of content and flag potential risks, but there are still critical limitations.
At their core, these tools lack sophistication and only begin to scratch the surface of delivering on consumer expectations and bringing real insight to organizations. Artificial intelligence, on its own, is useful, but it doesn’t understand the context and nuance of how human beings communicate, particularly around politically- and socially-charged issues.
Move Beyond Social Media Listening and Monitoring
Take, for instance, a conversation around Black Lives Matter. A person rightfully and passionately might write expletives as it relates to how they feel about a brand’s involvement (or lack of) in a post they leave on that brand’s social media page. The AI would delete it because the brand has a particular policy against profanity. In this case, the AI has done the job that the humans asked it to do. All good, right? Wrong. In that instance, the comment should have remained, and it might have even been helpful to the brand, but the AI unwittingly censored the person’s freedom of speech, creating an unintended issue that can damage the brand.
At a time when every online interaction matters, brands are forced to think beyond monitoring and ask some critical questions such as, “Will deleting this comment create an inadvertent issue, and will it censor someone’s freedom of speech?”
Social media listening and monitoring tools are crucial to answering these questions, but they are only half of the story. Brands are now compelled by consumers and internal stakeholders to rise above traditional monitoring efforts and rethink their social media approach with strategic solutions.
The Importance of Social Media Moderation
If social monitoring finds the information and social listening tells you why you should care, then social media moderation helps you figure out how to use both effectively. It gives you a roadmap to protect against risks, leverage opportunities, and bring value to your consumers and your organization.
Social media moderation takes the power of monitoring, combines it with the insights of listening, and uses that information to safely moderate discussions and content across social media channels. In some cases, that might be to securely action comments and, in others, it’s to place triggers that will hold certain comments until they are fully reviewed.
In the Black Lives Matter example used above, the comments full of profanity might be held in moderation but approved once reviewed and found appropriate to post. This helps to avoid censorship—or worse.
While traditional social media moderation primarily used people to power their solutions, and recent advances have focused on AI, a sophisticated combination of both is needed in today’s high-volume digital landscape. This is the only way organizations can safely engage consumers online while fully leveraging social media to enhance brand reputation and improve sales.