The information overload courtesy of the internet has baffled a lot of us. Everyone now has blind spots as there is too much knowledge for any one person to master. And so, when it comes to social media and what a business should do with it, very few know what they need, who can provide it, and how much it should cost. It's too new.

If you need to have your taxes done you know to hire an accountant, how to choose one, and generally how much that service will cost you. Not so with social media.

Last year over 181,000 people claimed to be social media experts on Twitter alone. There are now so many social networks, sharing apps, and - most baffling for business - data producing products (analytics) that companies think any social media product you name is the one they need. Analytics, measuring, monitoring, listening, engagement and optimization are amoung the buzzwords that so many use and it is often confusing and can take us away from the universal business pursuit:

growing the number of people who care about and buy our product.

Two of those buzzwords are standouts, Measuring and Monitoring, and I am going to do my best to explain the difference...

Social Media Monitoring

Hootsuite, CrimsonHexagon, Salesforce (of the Radian6 variety), Synthesio, Meltwater and more are tools that make it easy to listen to what is being shared on social media. To varying degrees of effectiveness, they can make sure that no one ever talks about your brand, or a particular topic, without you knowing about it and able to participate. That is what social media monitoring is.

Of the known buzzwords, monitoring involves listening, engaging, and in some ways optimizing. You need to hear what people are saying and join them in conversation before they lose interest and setting yourself up to listen in the right places certainly falls into the optimization camp.

Things get a little complicated because these monitoring tools often offer lots of useful data (analytics) that a business can use. They might tell you how many clicks happened, how many times your stuff was shared and many other useful pieces of information that you can act on.

What social media monitoring doesn't do is connect the dots to the business outcomes that you care about the most.

Social Media Measurement

If social media monitoring is about communications, measurement is about business strategy. To the business people who want to sell their products or services, knowing how many people like your social media page or who shared your article the most falls short of the goal line and that's usually the extent of what monitoring tools offer.

Social media measurement takes the information that these networks provide and they connect them to business outcomes that matter.

  • Of the people who shared our content, whose shares led to more sales of our product? We need to get to know those people.
  • Of all the content we shared last month, which stuff led to more sales of our product? We need to share more stuff like that.

This kind of information is what great strategies are built on. With this kind of information, a business can be efficient and focused with their social media strategy, spending money on content that will lead to sales and building relationships with people who can influence sales.

Who Cares?

Monitoring is of prime concern to people in a communication role and measurement is of greater importance to people in a business development capacity. Of course, having those parties work together strategically is ideal. Good monitoring feeds the measurements and keep everyone focused on what matters most. But hopefully this explanation makes it easier to know what tools you really need.

Do you know how social media is effecting the main business goals of your company?