To measure is to know, but know what you measure

Measure to knowSocial media is not just about sending your messages, but mostly about listening to your target group online. We always say: to measure is to know, but do you know what you measure? How do we reach the best results from social media monitoring? How should you interpret the available data and how do you gain its added value? We answer these questions in this blog.

Social listening

“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

Social media monitoring gives you an overall picture of your online visibility and involvement based on millions of international sources such as social media, radio, television, print media, blogs, forums and news sites. What you will measure through monitoring depends on the goal you have as an organisation. These goals may include: lead generation, event monitoring, reputation management and optimization of social service. The goal will determine the search you make, but also how the data should be interpreted. It will help you search specifically for interesting data.

Data interpretation: quality vs. quantity

When looking at data, we often tend to draw conclusions based on numbers such as range and volume. We compare these numbers every month and if we see an upward trend we know we’re doing it right because this has an influence on our online visibility. Right? Not exactly. Numbers are not everything. It’s all about the context of the messages.

To explain this, I will give an example related to reputation management. A number of factors can affect your online reputation. These factors include volume, range and sentiment. Separately, these numbers say very little about your reputation. It is important to delve in to what extent it affects your online reputation.


Volume gives a clear view of the number of messages mentioning your brand. When a clear peak in the number of messages is shown, it means there is something going on that could affect your reputation.


In the graph above this is illustrated for the supermarket chain Albert Heijn, which was discredited in January regarding their Teflon pans. A message posted by a customer on Albert Heijn’s Facebook page went viral. It had a negative sentiment and eventually led to many questions from customers that owned the same pans. Eventually, at the height of the controversy even news media such as De Volkskrant and AD were mentioned in our reports. They responded to the news, causing the news to reach even more people.



Albert Heijn finally felt the need to issue a statement on their own Facebook page, causing the controversy to disappear swiftly.

Tip: use alerts within a monitoring tool that warn you when the volume increases exponentially. This will ensure that you are always able to anticipate an event.

Sentiment as a guideline

Sentiment can be used as an indication for the general atmosphere concerning your brand. When controversy arises, a clear peak in negative sentiment will be shown. Although sarcasm and cynicism can make it difficult to give a proper comprehensive picture of negative sentiment. Therefore, it is important to take a look at the messages within the context of the controversy.

Late 2016 there was commotion on Twitter after Raymond van Barneveld posted a tweet about sponsor Tonzon. The link between Barney and Tonzon was a far cry and soon the jokes started rolling in. Sentiment analysis pointed out a peak in negativity concerning Tonzon.


Nobody can argue that Tonzon was put on the map by Raymond van Barneveld. If it is your goal to reach a positive online reputation, the question remains what this does to your desired online reputation when people have a negative association with your brand.

Tip: sentiment analysis provides a good opportunity to look around in the market. How does the sentiment around your brand compare to the sentiment in messages to and from your competitor?


Range provides insight into the (potential) number of people reached and thus into the impact that a message has on your reputation. Last week we saw a tweet by tweet van Youtuber Defano Holwijn in which Publisher Malmberg was addressed regarding a school assignment where students had to rate statements by immigrant, native or both. Meester Bart also tweeted the matter a day later.


Both individuals are well-known and have a wide range. When looking at posts mentioning Malmberg, we see a potential range of 1.8 million people between 1st and 10th February. When we exlude Defano and Meester Bart from the search, we see a significantly lower range, namely around 997.000.  Meester Bart and Defano are responsible for a potential extra range of around 800.000 people with their (indignant) message about the school assignment

Meester Bart posted on Twitter that he spoke to Malmberg on the phone about the assignment. Malmberg also issued statement on their Facebook page.

Tip: Monitor broader than just your brand. In the example above we see that Defano did not mention Malmberg in his tweet, but Master Bart did. A broader monitor using relevant words, in this case “school assignment” may ensure that you identify this sort of situation or key input faster.

Identifying Influencers

Using the example above regarding Malmberg it is a clear example of how important identifying influencers in your market can be. Who are the people talking about you? How influential are these people actually? In case of negative messages: can you take the sting out of the conversation and transform that person into a fan of your brand? Also check whether these people talked about your brand just once or if they talk about you regularly for an extended period

Tip: Create lists of stakeholders, influencers, critics etc. By identifying the people who talk about your brand and putting them on a list, you can then use these lists in your reports as a filter for your results.

Get started with Media Monitoring

Do you have any questions regarding setting goals en inserting the right search queries or reports. Feel free to contact us.

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