I've written about how dedicated social media analytics tools can benefit brands and digital marketers. There's another type of tool that every brand should be using, a brand monitoring tool. When someone on the Internet writes something about a brand, a product, a service, or a person, it's called a mention. Mentions can be in status update, a question, or an article. Good social listening is essential to maintaining a healthy and responsive online presence, and brand monitoring tools are an essential part of that because they monitor the internet for mentions of the keywords that you define. Those keywords might be your name, your company's name, or product names, or other keywords related to your industry. Discovering those mentions can show you what people are saying about your brand, its products and services, which, in turn, can help you respond. But brand monitoring software is not all about being reactive. Brand monitoring software can help you be proactive in many ways. In this article I'm going to tell you seven ways you can use brand monitoring to improve your online presence, community interaction, and digital marketing.
What we're talking about
There are numerous brand monitoring options. Brand monitoring is built into some social media analytics tools, or can be added as an option. Some popular dedicated brand monitoring options are Mention, Brand Watch, and Trackur. There are also free brand monitoring tools out there the most popular of which are Social Mention for doing research, and Google Alerts which will generate notifications when it discovers a mention of the keywords you define. We've tried the free tools, as well as a number of the paid tools and have found the paid tools to be easier to configure, better at assigning sentiment, and collect more mentions from more sources.
Most brand monitoring software will find mentions in a number of places on the Internet ranging from social networks, to blogs, to news sites, to other sources. If you're evaluating social monitoring software you should review the sources they monitor and choose a solution the monitors the places where your customers (or prospective customers) hang out. Most brand monitoring software has the following features:
- Tracking and reporting of mentions: Based on a keyword or a group of related keywords you define.
- Alerting: Many brand monitoring tools can be configured to send you notifications when mentions happen. You can often configure these alerts to happen immediately via text message or desktop notification, or as email messages at daily, weekly, or some other interval.
- Sentiment assignment and tracking: Most brand monitoring software attempts to assign a sentiment to a mention. Positive (if something good was said about the brand), negative (if something bad was said about the brand), or neutral of something was said that the software can't assign emotion to. You can usually assign your own sentiment to mentions for later analysis as well.
Many brand tracking services offer other features such as integration with other analytics tools, or task assignment for responding to mentions, enhanced options for response, download of mentions, reporting, and even mobile apps. Almost all of them have pricing tiers based on the number of alerts (keyword groups) you wish to monitor, and or the number of mentions you receive each month. The more alerts you want to configure, and the more mentions you need to track, the higher the price. Pricing starts at about $30 per month (Mentions lowest tier for 3 alerts and 500 monthly mentions), and many more options become available at the $100 price range.
Now that you know what brand monitoring software is let's how it can help your brand.
1. Monitor your brand (and get alerts)
It's no surprise that this is the biggest benefit - as stated earlier, brand monitoring software helps you find what people are saying about your brand, its products, and services. But let's drill into this for a minute. You may have social media publishing or analytics tools, such as Hootsuite, that give you information or show notifications when people interact with your posts or content. Brand monitoring software shows you what people are saying outside of your social media pages and content. If someone writes and article about your brand on their blog, brand monitoring software will tell you about it.
This allows you see what's being said about your brand all over the Internet. More importantly, it allows you to respond and participate in conversations you may never have known were going on. Having a dedicated tool for this gives your community managers a single place to look for and interact with mentions. Those daily or weekly mention roll up emails can also provide and extra failsafe to ensure your brand has responded to everything it needs to.
2. Measure Sentiment
Measuring sentiment is an important part of social listening. Tracking the trends in overall sentiment is one way to measure the effectiveness in the following areas:
- Content: You might hear someone recommend your YouTube channel because it has great how-to videos, and that may validate your YouTube content campaign. Conversely you might hear that your instructional videos don't address certain topics, or aren't in-depth enough. That's not something you want to hear, but hearing it gives you the chance to adjust your content strategy to address the issue.
- Community interaction: You might hear how people have interacted with your brand online, and what they've liked, or not liked, about the experience. People appreciate it when brands pay the right kind of attention to them. You can use this information to train community managers and refine your community interaction. That should your community happier, leading to better customer relationships.
- Customer service: Similar to community interaction, you can see what people are saying about your customer service (both online customer service and other types of customer service) and use the information to improve speed and quality of service. It can also help you create better self-help content that you can post online.
3. Perform social media audits
Every few months you should audit your social media activities to get the big picture of how well you're managing, growing, and utilizing your social media presence for marketing, sales, and service. Brand monitoring tools aren't essential to that, but they sure make it easier. In addition to seeing sentiment, you can break out mentions about your content types (such as images, videos, long form posts, and so forth), content topics, campaigns, products, services, and the brand overall. You can see what's working, potentially find ways to duplicate successes in other areas, and adjust marketing and content strategies to produce more of the content your audience likes and interacts with.
4. Respond to mentions
As stated earlier, one of the biggest benefits of brand monitoring software is the fact that it gives you the ability to participate in conversations you might never have known were happening. Each type of mention - positive, negative, or neutral - provides a different opportunity for the organization:
- Positive sentiment mentions can be broadly shared, or collected for use as social evidence. You can also engage with fans to create brand advocates.
- Negative sentiment mentions give you the opportunity to show the social community that your organization cares, and to change hearts and minds. You may not be able to make everyone happy, but the fact that you're trying will impress many. Taking the high road, and providing helpful, thoughtful, and reasonable responses will show the quality of your brand and help you win fans.
- Neutral sentiment mentions offer a variety of opportunities to engage. You can restate value propositions, provide additional information, or show customer evidence, to try to turn neutral sentiment positive. While the initial sentiment may have been neutral, the engagement will be seen by the community as a positive for the organization.
5. Find influencers
I've written before about identifying and connecting with influencers you find using social media analytics software to monitor your own social media pages and content. But there's a subtle, yet important, difference between the influencers you find when monitoring your own pages and content and those you find with brand monitoring tools. At least some of the influencers you find through brand monitoring may not be on your social media channels. They will be on their own other social media channels. Their blog, their website, their Facebook page, their LinkedIn group or other online location. By identifying them and engaging with them you're essentially developing a new social channel that extends your reach to new communities.
You can engage in a number of simple ways:
- You can thank them for the mention
- You can ask that they add a link to your website or product landing page
- You can leave comments that clarify your value proposition, or that include links to other content pieces.
- If they frequently publish about your industry, you can let them know when you update products and services so that they will include that information in future articles.
Remember, in addition to the person who mentioned you, the people their connected to will also see this engagement.
6. Find product and service positioning
Social listening with brand monitoring software can provide insights about what people think of your brand and how your products and services compare to competitors. Let's face it, people are going to have an opinions - you may, or may not, like those opinions, but knowing what those opinions are gives you a chance to respond. You can build on the value and positioning sentiment you hear or use content to address misconceptions head on, and try to change people's minds. Either way, using brand monitoring software to discover what people think about your products and services gives you the opportunity to move those conversations in the direction you want.
7. Research products, services industries, verticals, keywords, and hashtags
If you're getting ready to launch a campaign, or target a specific market segment with content, brand monitoring can help you create better marketing and content plans. It can help you validate keywords, discover industry terms, and popular topics. That can guide your content planning by telling you the types of content that work well for the market segment, as well as social networks, blogs, and websites that are popular. You can monitor competitors, or any organization with a strong presence in the sector, and see how they engage.
You can use all of this information to create a better marketing plan. One that takes advantage of social networks, websites, and media outlets popular to the target audience, using content that audience likes to consume, speaking a language they understand.
Brand monitoring is a must. You can use free tools like Google Alerts and Social Mention, or invest in paid tools to save time, and get more features. Either way, you should be practicing social listening to with brand monitoring software to take advantage of these seven benefits.
Over to you
If you have brand monitoring stories you'd like to share, or brand monitoring tools you prefer, let me know in the comments.