Posted July 29, 2010 2:18 pm by with 17 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

Back in in 2008, my good friend Lee Odden asked:

What’s a better term: “social media monitoring” or “social media measurement”?

As someone that provides social media measurement software, I wanted to get a check on whether our feelings have changed towards the use of social media monitoring versus social media measurement.

To me, it means the same thing. After all, why would you monitor social media, if you don’t plan to actually measure social media in some way? Still, I can tell you that, based on Google Analytics, social media monitoring is by far and away the most commonly searched-for keyword.

That’s backed up by Google’s Insights for Search too! As you can see, social media monitoring is far more searched for than social media measurement. Here’s the chart to prove it!

So, I’ve asked on Twitter:

What would you search for: “social media monitoring” or “social media measurement”?

Notice that I’ve not asked, which is better, but, which would you search for? Here are some of the responses:

@etrevallion social media monitoring
@mollermarketing monitoring would be the one i choose over those two options
@schachin monitoring… social sounds like it needs monitoring not measurement like ROI or CTR
@aristobhupal ‘Social Media Monitoring’ for me
@tonicarr I think I would be more apt to search “social media analytics”, then I would vote for your “social media measurement”
@SurjGish Depends, monitoring & measurement are 2 different things
@JoshuaTitsworth I’d search for social media measurement.
@Cord monitoring
@Matt_Siltala if those are my only two choices “social media monitoring” is the one …
@adorosario “how to monitor the social media” 🙂 [ps: you are over estimating the grammatical and linguistics abilities of Internet users]
@TurtleSEO social media measurement because its about numbers these days…even while we look at invoices 🙁
@SharmeeMavadia social media monitoring
@emha705 Social Media Monitoring
@oilman social media monitoring
@1000cigarettes would depend on my intentions. measurement if i were looking for my own results, monitoring if looking to see cumulative mentions
@janetdmiller social media monitoring
@netmeg monitoring
@jimmyrey Social Media Monitoring is what I search for when looking for people who want to buy it
@dvdsmpsn SM monitoring
@joshspickler monitoring. Definitely
@mark_barrera Social media monitoring
@chriskovac I’d search for “”social media monitoring” — “measurement” seems to vague, especially to people that are just now experimenting
@EvanKRob social media monitoring. Seems to project a proactive philosophy where measurement suggests reactive.
@Jlee350 monitoring
@KidQuick my vote goes to social media monitoring. But, my 1st search query on that topic would be something else “social media analytics”

Of course, not everyone is on Twitter, so please chime in in the comments below with your vote:

Social media monitoring or social media measurement?


  • Tomato, Tomato ( picture that I just said them differently!)

    The phrase Social Media Monitoring actually makes a lot more sense….why monitor if you are not measuring. You are spot on….however I think people will stick with what they are accustomed to. This is why words like irregardless get used when regardless is the correct word and they mean the exact same thing……

    Kathryn Stephenson

    • Well, I’ll continue to use “social media monitoring” irregardless of what others use! 😛

  • Thanks for the poll, Andy! We had a similar internal discussion about a year ago and I appreciate you posting the (data) results. It would also be interesting to compare “social analytics” which was brought to my attention by @bosilytics (he’s a Web analytics pro).

    Thanks again!


    • Yeah, we had a view votes for social media analytics. Not sure that it’s strong enough to gain significant traction though. That said, social media monitoring wasn’t popular 3 years ago. 😉

  • Good poll question Andy, I’m going to lean with the majority on this one, and say ‘social media monitoring’ is here to stay.

  • Social Media Monitoring has a nice ring to it. I think I’m going to have to agree with the collective on this one!

  • I like mayhem ……… social media mayhem.

    Wait, that wasn’t an option ……. sorry.

    Monitoring works for me.

  • Joe Seale

    Which would I search for? It depends on the question I’m trying to answer.

    In my mind ‘social media monitoring’ is more product focused. A term that’d be searched by those looking to for tools monitor social media.

    ‘social media measurement’ IMHO applies to those who are *already* monitoring and are trying to make sense of what they have seen.

  • We just changed our PR directories’ category “social media tools” to.. .social media: “monitor & measure” – so I guess we’re playing it safe :).

    There seems to be a difference in use of the two terms on a lot of websites: monitoring usually seems to refer to “who is talking about me on twitter/facebook etc” while measuring is used to refer to “how big is my influence on twitter/facebook”

    Off course, technically, it’s the completely the same: you check out where your brand is mentioned on the web – and how is resonates.

    Anyways, my vote goes to monitoring – but we’ll stick with double-tag for a while just to be sure:


  • Social Media Monitoring is good with me but I would think of social media metrics as another important query along with social media analytic. 😉

  • social media monitoring and social media measurement go together but in my experience they are not one in the same. I believe that listening and monitoring are the same thing.

    Now that more businesses are adopting social media and leveraging it in their customer communications, the need to measure social media has naturally evolved to help business understand how it meets the bottom line. But there is still a learning curve in understanding the different aspects of social media marketing. So it doesn’t surprise me that in the early stages of social media marketing, business will search for social media monitoring rather than social media measurement

    Inspite of the graph (I know it’s bold of me 🙂 ) I believe the search trends will shift upward for social media measurement after this year. 2008-2009 was about jumping on the social media band wagon. 2010 is about being on the wagon, and becoming educated social media marketers (the listening/monitoring phase). After this year, social media measurement is where the seasoned social media marketers are headed and they’re searching for the tools to become expert social media marketing experts – hence searching on social media measurement to find all-encompassing apps that listen/monitor AND measure.

  • I prefer monitoring over measurement simply because of the action monitoring means. To monitor something is to look at various aspects of its behavior whereas to measure denotes looking at only one part of something at any given time while recording specific data.
    Just my take on it.

  • Nice poll , I’m seeing a result which I expected. The ‘social media monitoring’ word have now gained popularity and people do prefer to use it as compared to ‘social media measurement’. It is good to use ‘social media monitoring’ itself as we are monitoring online presence of a brand rather than measuring the ROI through Social Media. Social Media Professionals should concentrate more on interaction and conversations. A good example of Social Media success for a brand is @RSHotel on twitter . They have build a good online presence for their brand. I think ‘Social Relevancy Ranking’ would be a part of Search Engine Algorithms in the near future.



  • Seriously, this is a naming issue which is completely detached from the actual meaning of the words.

    Monitoring and measurement are not the same. Monitoring can be a form of measurement. However, I may monitor something without measuring it.

    From a professional point of view I want to monitor and measure social media. Monitoring is not the only thing I want to do with social media in terms of measurement but it’s part of what I’d do.

    So, in the end, it depends on what you are providing in terms of service.
    And I’d be loathe to say that they are the same or that one of the two terms trumps the other because it is more searched for or whatever.
    Words do have a defined meaning which might chaneg over time depending on its use by society. However, we should not redefine words because people understand them in different ways when we are dealing with a complex topic.
    Measurement simply doesn’t mean monitoring and monitoring doesn’t mean measurement – no matter how hard we try to make it the same.
    And if they ever evolve to mean the same then we need a word to replace the one we’ve lost. Otherwise we lack a word for (what’s now) either monitoring or measurement.

  • Enjoyed reading the response. Love the comment about grammar!
    I actually see a difference in the two phrases. Monitoring for me, is checking on who’s following you and who you should follow back. It’s also looking at comments, looking at retweets and more. Measuring is more along the lines of #’s. IE total followers, total retweets, blog subscriptions, etc.

  • It is Social Media Monitoring as it denotes a qualitative and quantitative dimension to social media. Social Media Measurement reflects a purely quantitative view to social media.

    • Well,

      The thing is: This is not marketing or a communications professionals debate. It is in fact a scientific debate.
      It is great and absolutely necessary that comms pros get involved in measurement. However, this also needs to come with new standards in their education – which measurement is sadly not a part of right now (mostly that is).

      Measurement does not denote a quantitative approach at all.
      It simply means to measure something. This need not be in numbers. There’s a reason why we say “to take someones measure” – by which we usually don’t mean counting deeds or bhevaioural patterns but to assess them in order to get an impression of whom we’re dealing with.

      There is also the issue with qualitative and quantitative in their different meanings.
      In research quantitative simply means covnerting meaning or facts in numbers and interpreting them. Qualitative means looking directly at the meanings and facts and trying to deduce something from them – for example via heuristics or other methods like grounded theory for example.
      This is how I used them so far in this post.
      The great thing about quantitative measurement is that we can analze large crowds (such as whole societies) realtively quickly. The bad thing is that we cannot really gain an understandign of each singular individual.
      The great thing about qualitative measurement is that we can really get into someone’s unique mind and try to understand what he/she is thinking. The bad thing is that we cannot do this for as myriads of people.
      (Careful, this is a simplified explanation)

      Then there’s the other aspect in which quantitative may mean (using Twitter here) the number of followers and their quality depends on how much they interact with you and you with them.

      So when you are measuring the number of interactions that you have with a follower for example then this is a qualitative indicator (if we assume that interaction reflects a certain quality) that you measure in a quantitative way.

      As for analytics – that’s the name for the toolbox you use. Analytic methods ranging from this to that – whatever you use.

      Apart from that there’s one interesting aspect which has not been mentioned yet: How we call services that measure social media activities and presence is probably much more a marketing question than a quest for truth or precision.

      Plus: I love how social media gives all of us the chance to measure communications in a way that we were not able to before their rise.
      People are now partly having conversations on the web – available for all us keen researchers – which they had in pubs and at home before.