There are so many reasons to monitor your brand mentions online:
- It lets you quickly spot and prevent a potential reputation crisis.
- It lets you turn both happy and unhappy customers into brand advocates.
- It lets you measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns – more brand mentions are the most important signal of growing brand authority.
We are all aware why it needs to be done. But we also know that it’s quite overwhelming.
The following is a tactical guide explaining my process of monitoring and collecting brand mentions across the web.
1. Monitor brand mentions using your email inbox
No matter how many other ways I’ve tried (RSS, a dedicated dashboard, etc.) nothing comes close to using email alerts for monitoring purposes. The big benefit is the ability to use the Gmail search feature to go through those alerts over time. I haven’t been able to come to love any other tool as much as Gmail search.
I recommend creating a separate email account for these purposes to keep your main inbox cleaner. Gmail is free, so you can go as far as creating a separate account for monitoring each brand you are managing.
The best-known and free way to monitor your brand web mentions is Google Alerts, of course. I’ve been using it a lot for as long as I can remember. Apart from it being free, it doesn’t have a lot to offer though:
- It misses a lot of mentions (which is surprising because it is supposed to use Google’s own database)
- It’s kind of slow (sometimes you won’t see the mention until days after it happened).
Still, there’s nothing preventing you from setting it up to monitor your brand name because it’s free.
You can select the sources (blogs, news, web, books, videos, discussions or everything), limit it to a certain region (which is a great option to have if you are monitoring a local brand) and choose the type of results you want to see (all or best, the latter being default).
If you can afford to allocate some budget to brand monitoring (which is probably something you need to consider doing) try Awario. You’ll be amazed at how fast those email alerts are catching your brand mentions. This is a great tool, worth the investment. You can pick your sources, filter through results easily and clearly see your stats. The email alerts arrive weekly and are designed in a very clean clutter-free way:
2. Monitor Twitter mentions in real time
Apart from using email alerts to stay on top of your (client’s) brand mentions, using Twitter for real-time tracking is a must. The thing is, you want to be there, as fast as you can, to participate in a discussion involving you or your client’s brand. This is a key to preventing a reputation crisis or turning an unhappy customer into a brand advocate.
I don’t have a fancy tool to offer here. I am using good old Tweetdeck for that. As much as I’ve been frustrated with their updates which seem to be making the tool worse, one update at a time, I’ve struggled to find a worthy alternative.
Tweetdeck is free and the reason I am stuck with it is that it delivers those desktop alerts allowing me to never miss an important mention. You can set up those alerts to only be delivered for columns that are important for you and keep other columns running in the background for you to check when you have time:
Tweetdeck allows you to monitor a lot of Twitter-specific updates (your new followers, likes and retweets to your updates, etc.) but I always keep a separate column for mentions because those are the ones I need to interact with as soon as they come.
3. Put it all together with a dashboard
I have mentioned above that I need email and desktop alerts to keep myself up-to-date with mentions as they come. This doesn’t mean I am not using dashboards to keep things organized and archived properly. Dashboards also help for when I am away (sick or travelling) because they allow me to get back on track within minutes.
Cyfe is a great inexpensive business monitoring dashboard that can keep lots of things organized.
For brand monitoring, I have created a separate dashboard which has the following widgets:
- My Gmail emails (that separate inbox I am using for brand alerts I’ve talked about above)
- RSS feeds from Google Alerts
- Twitter search widget for monitoring brand mentions
- A separate widget with my quick to-do list
If you are monitoring several brands, you can create a separate dashboard for each one. Cyfe has no limits to the number of dashboard and widgets you can use (at least I’ve never managed to hit any limits). Putting together those client reports is also much easier with downloadable Cyfe archives. Keep those clients continuously impressed!
If you have a bit of technical experience, you can create a business management dashboard using these free plugins and templates. The only benefit of creating one is no monthly costs involved though.
4. Consolidate your mentions in an owned media asset
There’s an article that caught my attention on consolidating your brand mentions and content into one solid asset. I think it’s a great idea and can totally be applied to brand monitoring as well.
You can use your email archives of web mentions to ultimately put together a solid online course addressing frequently asked questions around your brand and niche. Here’s how brand mentions can be used for that:
- Use questions you hear on social media as course video content inspiration
- Use videos created by your users as video lessons
- Invite your brand promoters (those you see mention you most) to be guests in your video interviews
Uscreen.tv is a great platform to host your video course because it allows you to effectively engage your students through email campaigns, brand your course, use your own domain to host it and more.
But more importantly, it lets you create a separate app for your course giving you one more nice asset as well as allowing you to engage your community more effectively through Push notifications:
5. Turn mentions into leads
Not applicable for all the businesses out there, but this is something I’ve been doing for my B2B clients. I am not involved in their lead generation process, but I felt the need to somehow fill that gap between PR and conversions. So what I’ve been doing is integrating brand mentions with their client relationship management platforms.
Salesmate is the tool I’ve been using for that (unless the client asks to integrate with their existing solution). Salesmate is very inexpensive and easy and thanks to dozens of integrations it can work very well to bridge the gap between the (remote) teams, in my case, PR and sales.
You can connect it to your monitoring Gmail account and Twitter for it to pick up mentions and send them to the sales team. They will get it from there.
While your client’s brand is growing, you’ll see more and more mentions coming. A wider range of search queries containing your brand name is also a good signal of a well-growing brand. It’s also a good sign that you are doing a good job.
So apart from monitoring mentions, investigate which queries may include your client’s brand name once in a while. Include these queries into your quarterly or annual reports and note that these should be addressed on a company-wide basis
- Some of these queries should be addressed by the product development team (to diagnose problems with the product and possible solutions)
- Some of these queries should be addressed by the web development team to make important sections of the website more visible and accessible on the site
- Some of these queries should be addressed by the content team to create content that addresses a question implied in the query
Using Serpstat keyword research tool, here’s an example of analysis your client will be interested in seeing:
(As you can see, Serpstat also shows which types of search results show up for each query, so your client can better understand what type of content they need to create to rank across the board for each one)
Which tools are you using for brand monitoring? Please share!
Guest author: Anna Fox is a freelance writer and outreach professional.