Social media monitoring practices are, in reality, reading comprehension, engagement, and data analysis practices that generally involve the following four different online profile types: customer, product, campaign, and competitor activities.
Social media command centers in large corporations such as Dell and Gatorade (Pepsi) monitor human engagement with readers and analysts. These readers, sometimes called listeners, read large amounts of conversational information generated by people communicating on various digital platforms.
Image credit: Mashable
These online conversations are in some cases responded to, stored, and analyzed by analysts (quantitative and qualitative specialists).
Radian 6 image
To perform digital conversational monitoring successfully, a reader's comprehension skills should be good. This is why recent research regarding reading versus listening comprehension becomes relevant to social media monitoring.
Image source: Conservation Magazine
Research has shown that listeners and readers understand different parts of information differently. Listening is defined as understanding, interpreting, and evaluating what a person hears from a speaker; reading on the other hand is a complex cognitive process of decoding symbols with the intention of constructing or deriving meaning (reading comprehension). Both listening and reading involve comprehension, but different decoding processes. That is, the path to comprehension is different, suggested a study at the University of California at Los Angeles (Song, 2008).
Comprehension is a process shared by listening and reading activities. Listening and reading skills are teachable, and each has positive and different learning qualities; many people are better at one process than the other. It can be argued that best practice conditions for the monitoring of social media activities, on a social media listening dashboard over extended periods of time, would be to use reading and listening strategies.
The following studies suggest that listeners take a more active approach to learning, constructing, and reconstructing the learned information as it is heard. They are more motivated to use additional sources or detective-like research to arrive at the main idea of what they have heard. This approach would very be useful to social media monitoring centers, because the added research can be easily accomplished online. Additionally, their research would likely uncover useful conversation threads, influencers, conversational intent, semantic understanding (demographics, engagement, influencers, actions, emotions), and community activity that would benefit a brand's online objectives.