How has the continued rise of mobile tech changed your monitoring strategy?

The popularity of apps, such as Instagram, has created significant mobile-first networks that are too big to ignore.

Laura Howe, VP of PR, American Red Cross
laura.howe@redcross.org  

The expanded use of mobile means that the people who need help from the American Red Cross - and the people who want to help us - all have the ability to reach out to us anytime and anywhere. Receiving information via mobile has been nothing less than transformational for the Red Cross.

We've seen the most dramatic examples of this during disasters. During Superstorm Sandy, the Red Cross collected more than 2 million individual pieces of data from the social Web in nearly six weeks. Many of these were tweets, photos, and videos created by people who were, literally, standing in the rubble left by Sandy.

There's no question that the intensity and volume of the digital conversations would have been both different and diminished had people only been able to use a computer.

Because people are being affected by a disaster as they type, they need and expect our help that quickly as well, so we now monitor for new types of information and a greater volume of it. We proactively look for people who need urgent emotional support. We scan social channels for situational awareness that can inform operational decisions. We rally those who want to help and connect people with their loved ones.

For the person standing in the rubble, their mobile device often serves as a lifeline to information, family, and hope. Those of us on the other end of the tweet, photo, or status update feel the enormity of that expectation. Mobile made us shift our strategy to become more nimble, responsive, and as compassionate in the digital space as we are in the physical world.

James O'Malley, VP, strategic planning, analytics, and research, Porter Novelli james.omalley@porternovelli.com

Mobile has forced us to improve our capabilities at each step of our media analytics and measurement offerings, particularly how coverage gets collected and processed. We've had
to improve our approach through investments in both data and the technology required to crunch it.

On the data collection side, the biggest challenge mobile presents for media monitoring is the variety of new sources to cover. The popularity of apps, such as Instagram, has created significant mobile-first networks that are too big to ignore. Not only do these have sizable user bases, but because they make creating content so easy, we see more than 1 billion pieces of content per day through our streams.

Our approach has been to partner with data vendors offering full access to content for established networks. We still need to find custom solutions for newer sources such as Vine or those used primarily outside of North America - you never know which app will be the next big thing, so picking the right partners who can help build monitoring capabilities as needed limits the amount of scraping we have to do ourselves.

With access to all these disparate sources of data, we've had to overhaul our approach to processing mentions. While we could provide just an Excel spreadsheet with links to coverage, we invested in technology that allows our analytics teams to build customized algorithms to code mentions for metrics including key messages, tonality, and platforms to provide additional context to monitoring reports.

We have even begun exploring image-recognition software to account for sources such as Tumblr where mobile app users often post photos of our clients' brands or products without using keywords or tags that traditional monitoring tools require.

You Mon Tsang, SVP of products, Vocus
ytsang@vocus.com

Mobile means more mentions, more often, and more volatile. We need to watch social media mentions in addition to those from traditional media, but the 24/7 anywhere access to social by readers can take mentions and make them go viral at any time. This can make for quick and volatile bursts of monitoring activity.

We're monitoring more often than ever to field all these mentions that may break. PR and marketing must work together in real time to take advantage of the world's mobile-enabled 24/7 news cycle. When a consumer has an experience - positive or negative - they won't wait to share it. They do so immediately via mobile. We need to be there in order to document and share those positive experiences, and solve any issues to create better customer experiences.

The continued rise and transition to a mobile-dominated world also means new apps that consumers are using to talk about brands, and a need for brands to explore and leverage these tools to capture mentions. It's a vast marketplace that communicators probably never prepared for, but we must adapt and react.

Consumers and audiences aren't just talking on social via mobile - they're searching for recommendations, consuming news, and connecting with others. As marketers and PR pros, our media monitoring strategy has also expanded to evaluate trending industry topics, tonality, and sentiment of such topics and the monitoring of certain buying signals that indicate where these consumers may be in the buying cycle for more effective social and mobile selling.

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