Haven’t the foggiest what customers are saying about your brand on social media? Well, here’s six hot tips from marketing and branding firm TwoCents Group’s Simon Dell to ensure you’re the one controlling the message…
One thing that sets apart the pros from the amateurs in online marketing is whether they are monitoring online mentions of their brand. Many businesses tend to “hope for the best” when it comes to online brand mentions. That is, they hope that any important mentions of their brand will come across their desk at some point, and they hope to not miss any press – positive or negative.
As you can probably guess, it’s not my recommendation to take this approach with your online branding!
Your online reputation needs to be carefully monitored and managed. In today’s 24/7 world of news, social media, forums, and online review sites, your brand could (at any time of the day) receive important feedback, damaging reviews, media coverage, or other kinds of online mentions that require you to respond appropriately. A lack of awareness of your online reputation and not responding fast enough (or at all) risks leaving you exposed to awkward situations.
How can you monitor your online brand?
I have six tools and techniques that can help you keep on top of your online brand. This list is not exhaustive, but it has been designed to cover some of the most common (and affordable) options for small to medium businesses.
- Google Alerts
One of the most powerful free brand monitoring tools is Google Alerts. All you need to set up Google Alerts is your Google account. Once you have logged in, you can subscribe to keywords and get notified via email when Google’s bots crawl these keywords for the first time on a web page. You can choose how often to get notified, what regions and languages you would like to focus on, and what types of results you would like to see (news, blogs, videos, discussions, books, etc).
It is a good idea to set up Google alerts for commonly used versions of your brand name, local stores, contact details, website urls, and any names of important individuals within your company (such as the CEO).
Google alerts is not fool-proof – you are limited by what Google crawls and how often it crawls the web. It is possible to miss something important or not see a mention of your brand for several days if you are only relying on Google to crawl the web. However, it is a good tool to have in your branding toolkit, and is a great starting place if you don’t have the budget for paid tools.
- Social Mention
Another free tool worth knowing about is Social Mention. This is a real-time online monitoring tool that trawls social media, blogs, images, and videos for mentions of specific keywords.
For a free tool, it offers some pretty powerful analytics, including data on positive/negative/neutral sentiments, top keywords, top sources, number of unique authors, estimated strength, reach, and passion, and the option to download this data in CSV spreadsheet format.
Limitations of Social Mention are that at the time of writing, it does not have a functioning “alerts” system, so the only way you can track your mentions is if you manually run a search on a regular basis. This means that Social Mentions could be a great tool to harness and respond to real-time mentions in the event of a crisis or major media coverage, but it won’t be all that useful in notifying you of day-to-day mentions.
- Hashtag Search Tools
Increasingly, consumers are using #Hashtags to talk about brands and expect brands to be following their key hashtags, for example #CompanyName. If you miss a mention of your hashtag, it’s not a good look for your business!
There are a range of tools that can help monitor your hashtags and keep you alerted for mentions. One such tool for Twitter (with some free features) is Tweet-Tag.com. The key result here is that real-time monitoring and alerts for your hashtags will ensure that you don’t miss out on responding to feedback – particularly if it is negative – before it turns into a larger-scale crisis. The sooner you can respond to feedback, the more in control you can stay of your online reputation on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and other social media.
Topsy is another fantastic online brand monitoring tool. It’s quick and easy to use, with plenty of free features. Just pop your keyword (usually your business name) into the search box, and it will spit out data on the number of online mentions recently, tweets, influencers, photos, videos, and more.
Another section of Topsy that you might find useful is an area to compare different keywords over a set period of time. You can see the number of mentions on a graph and compare the popularity of these keywords and monitor trends and fluctuations. This could show your brand’s mentions compared to a competitor, or perhaps whether certain topics are trending for your industry and customers.
- Hootsuite Streams
Hootsuite is primarily known as a popular social media scheduling and publishing tool. In fact, you probably already have an account for your business. However, Hootsuite is less known for another one of its tools which is arguably just as powerful as scheduling posts. Once you have your account set up, with your social media profiles for your business added, you can create “Streams” to monitor different aspects of your social media.
Some examples of streams you could add include:
- Facebook wall posts to your business page
- Messages to your Facebook page
- Searches of specific keywords on Facebook
- Instagram hashtags
- Twitter direct messages
- Trending topics on Twitter
- Twitter keyword search
- Twitter mentions
- Twitter url mentions
The power of this is that you can view and respond in real time to your brand’s online mentions on the top social media platforms. You don’t even need to leave the Hootsuite dashboard – simply check and respond to any mentions on your connected accounts while logged into Hootsuite
Hootsuite offers a free basic option where you can add up to 3 social media profiles. So if, for example, you primarily use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your business, you may not even need to upgrade your account.
It’s worth mentioning that not all brand mentions come in text form. One powerful aspect of monitoring your online brand that is often overlooked is instances where your image or logo has been used.
ImageRaider is a tool that allows you to trawl the internet for instances where your images have been used. It would be a good idea to plug your logo images and key branding images into ImageRaider as a starting point. Other important types of images you would want to track might be official pictures of your CEO, images that have come up as damaging (or positive) to your brand in the media, and more.
All of these images count as mentions of your brand, so it is important that you are able to track them and respond in a timely manner. You might come across an amazing brand advocate that you weren’t aware of (a great opportunity to pursue the relationship further), or identify companies and people who are trying to hurt your reputation.
ImageRaider offers a limited number of free credits, but after that, you will need to pay a small fee for searches per image. You could also use Google images for free to do the same job, but ImageRaider is much faster because it allows you to input multiple images at once and monitor your images long-term.
Over to you now…
Do you currently have a system in place to consistently monitor your brand? If so, what tools do you use? Are there any potential gaps in your monitoring system that you need to account for?