If you have customers, chances are they’re going to be saying something about your brand online. Columnist John Lincoln reveals the best tools to help you monitor what they’re saying and offers some advice on how you should respond.
What are people saying about your brand online? Is your company receiving good publicity? What are customers telling their friends on social media about your products or services? It’s important that you know the answer to those questions.
If you don’t monitor mentions of your brand online, then you’re missing out on some valuable feedback and opportunities. These are the people you need to interact with and build connections with.
If people are singing your praises, then you’ve stumbled across a world of opportunities, testimonials, guest blogs, networking and more. On the other hand, if people are criticizing your company, you have an opportunity to determine if the criticism is warranted, and if so, take the appropriate action.
I really try to look at criticism as an opportunity to improve; I consider it free consulting.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the best tools to use so that you can monitor what people are saying about your brand online. Then, we’ll offer some guidelines about how you should respond to those people. Let’s go!
Monitor With Mention.com
The appropriately named Mention is a great tool to use if you’re looking to monitor your brand’s mentions on various social media channels.
According to the company’s own marketing, Mention has the ability to monitor billions of sources in more than 40 languages. It keeps you up-to-date with what people are saying about your brand using real-time monitoring. That way, you can reply immediately to your mentions.
Beyond that, Mention also uses influencer scores to give you an idea about your commenter’s level of influence.
Is the person who just criticized your brand followed by only 14 people? Or is he followed by 140,000? That kind of information could make a difference in how you respond.
Unlike Google Alerts, Mention isn’t free. Pricing starts at $29/month for 3,000 monthly mentions. The most expensive option is $799/month and allows for up to half a million monthly mentions. It also works well on different devices.
Check 187 Languages With Talkwalker
Talkwalker is another social media monitoring tool that will provide insight about how people are reacting to your brand online.
Currently, Talkwalker supports more than 10 social networks in 187 different languages. It allows you to refine your search results with more than four dozen filters.
Power users will appreciate the fact that it also provides a search query syntax for sophisticated screening.
Talkwalker also offers a feature that allows you to benchmark your brand against industry peers, provide demographic data and create automated reports.
Here we see some of the competitive dashboard.
Assign Mentions With HootSuite For Action
HootSuite allows you to monitor your various social media channels for mentions of a particular keyword or phrase. It’s a simple way to see who’s saying what about your brand.
One thing that is really cool with HootSuite is that you can “send tweets or updates that you find in your search to other Team members.” Here is an example animation showing this.
Stay In The Know With Moz Fresh Alerts
Professional digital marketers are quite familiar with Moz. That name is considered one of the “starters” in the inbound marketing space.
Moz offers a tool called Fresh Web Explorer. It’s another great way to monitor mentions of your brand online.
It’s not new — it was announced in October 2013 — but it still has a lot of value. Here we see an example of Mentions of Search Engine Land.
However, Fresh Web Explorer also allows you to set up alerts so you can be notified by email when your brand is mentioned. If that sounds like Google Alerts, that’s because it’s similar, except that the querying and filtering functionality is far superior.
Unlike Google Alerts, though, you’ll pay money for Fresh Web Explorer. It does have a 30-day free trial period, so you can at least play before you pay.
Go Ninja With IFTTT RSS
IFTTT is an acronym for “If This, Then That.” It’s a tool that allows you to build your own set of actions that should be executed in response to a particular event.
The IFTTT rule sets, called recipes, allow you to perform a wide variety of actions using your portfolio of apps. Of particular interest here, though, is the fact that you can use the tool to monitor an RSS feed and, when your brand is mentioned, shoot you an email alerting you to that effect.
Quick And Free Analysis With IceRocket
IceRocket is a simple, free tool that you can use to quickly check your mentions on social media and around the blogosphere. To do that, you just visit the website and type a search term into the big text field at the top of the screen.
You also need to select the appropriate tab: You can search blogs, Twitter or everything. Then, just click the magnifying glass and see the results list.
If you’re operating on a tight budget, and you’d like to monitor your brand mentions, consider IceRocket and SocialMention (which we will cover in a moment) as viable options.
Smart Twitter Analysis With Topsy
Topsy is an excellent tool for searching around Twitter to see who’s talking about your brand. It also allows you to easily filter your search based on the type of tweet (e.g., video, photo, link).
One great thing about Topsy is that the default sorting of your results is based on engagements of the tweet that mentioned your brand.
So, for example, if someone tweeted about your brand and received more than 500 @-replies, you can expect that tweet to be at the top of the list. That gives you an idea of who your influencers are.
Here we see a search on the @ignitev Twitter profile.
Free Social Sentiment Analysis With SocialMention
SocialMention will not only give you results about the social media buzz surrounding your brand, it will also provide you with an assessment about whether that buzz is positive or negative. It is a great tool.
SocialMention represents the best of both worlds because it’s free and provides some very useful metrics. It’s probably one of the best freebies out there for monitoring your brand’s online mentions.
Here we see a look at what it comes back with for Alphabet Inc.
Stay On Track With Trackur
A premium tool that you can use to track your social media and mainstream news mentions is Trackur. This is a great option if you have a budget and can afford to spend some money for brand building.
Trackur offers monitoring of all the popular social media channels — plus, according to the company, “millions more.” Also, the tool offers insights about trends, keyword discovery and sentiment analysis.
Trackur also offers a 10-day free trial period so that you can try before you buy.
Go Old School With Google Alerts
I know, most of you have known about Google Alerts since you were two years old. But not everyone does… 🙂
There’s still no company online that beats Google when it comes to searching the deepest crevices of the interweb and finding exactly what you need. If you’re looking for mentions of your brand, make sure to use Google Alerts as a baseline.
Google Alerts will send you an email that includes links to articles mentioning your brand. You can specify how often you want Google to check for mentions, what types of sources you want to check (news sites, blogs and more), what language(s) the mention occurred in, and the specific geographical region of the mention.
Google Alerts is a great way to set up an automated system that notifies you when people are talking about your brand online. Best of all, it’s free. It will not catch everything, but it generally will get the important stuff.
Other Social Media Tools
If you are looking for more social media tools, read this guide that lists many more options. It lists the top 80 important SEO and social tools.
Once you’ve selected the tool or suite of tools that you think is best for monitoring your brand online, then you should know how to respond to those people who have mentioned your brand.
Here are some guidelines for that:
Engage With Them, In The Right Way
If you want to put a human face on your business, do so by engaging with people who mention your brand. If someone poses a question or a concern about a product or service of yours online, and one of your tools alerts you about it, go ahead and offer a reply to the person’s query.
You’ll show the world that there’s an actual person behind the brand name, and you’ll demonstrate outstanding customer service in the process.
For smaller companies that are looking to growthhack their way to the top, interacting with these people in the right way can mean massive gains for your business. I will explain more in a moment.
Be Careful Responding To Negative Comments
Not everybody is going to like your brand. It’s rare that a business should have a perfect batting average.
You shouldn’t be surprised when somebody takes to social media to express some criticism about your brand. It’s going to happen. It’s part of the business.
However, be wary about responding. If someone is just venting and offering unconstructive criticism, you’re probably best served if you refuse to poke the bear.
On the other hand, if someone is complaining because of a defect in your product or a failure to deliver as promised, you should reply with a polite offer to make restitution. That way, the complainant’s followers will see that you care about your business.
Here’s a quick example of this:
I left a mediocre review of a restaurant on Yelp about a year ago. (I really shouldn’t have; those reviews kill businesses.) They reached out to me directly and invited me back to the restaurant, offering me a free dinner.
When I saw that message, I read what I had posted before and decided to delete it. Shortly after that, I decided to delete every bad review I have ever left on Yelp.
When that person reached out and offered me a free meal, I read the review I left and thought, that was mean. What a great reputation management strategy, huh?
Ask For Backlinks From People Who Have Blogs
If someone is praising your product or service online, and that person also has a blog, why not engage with him or her? You can either ask for a link or offer them a guest blog. This is a great way to build your link profile and the relationship.
Try an email like this. Only if you really feel this way of course…
I saw that you mentioned us in <insert URL here>. We really appreciate the mention, and we are big fans of your blog. Would you mind linking the mention of our company to our website? We would really appreciate it. Let us know once you do. We would love to share your post on our social media outlets. We have <x number> Twitter followers and <x number Facebook fans>.
Also, please let us know if we can provide you a guest blog. Here are a few ideas.
We would also love it if you would write a guest blog for us. Look forward to speaking with you, and thank you again!
Make sure to keep a running list of everyone you have interacted with. Then, next time you have a guest blog to distribute, a big announcement, or whatever, you can reach out to those people.
Forge Business Relationships
If you’re in the B2B space, and someone brags about your product or service online, you might just have the beginnings of a beautiful business relationship. Reach out to the person who mentioned your brand, and find out if there’s any way that the two of you can do business together.
There might be some opportunities for joint ventures or “package deals” to people who become customers of both of your companies at once.
These relationships are so important. Think of two companies who don’t compete sharing data and lists.
Consider using the HootSuite tool to assign mentions to sales to respond. What a great way to stay organized with social mentions.
In addition, if you want a hyper-B2B focus, LinkedIn has recently improved its search feature. Take a look here at an exact match search for “Search Engine Land.” It shows who is talking about the site and who the infuencers are.
Learn What Works, Keep Doing It And Scale It
The positive mentions that you see online should serve to give you an understanding about what’s going right with your business.
Are you seeing a lot of positive mentions about a particular model or type of service that you’re offering? Are you hearing accolades about your company’s commitment to customer service?
It’s important that you commit your resources to the continued development of those aspects of your business that are getting positive mentions online. That’s how you build goodwill.
Here we see a look at all the mentions for the San Diego Padres — pretty positive, very neutral and a little negative. These are all great people to add to their outreach list when they have news. Maybe start with the positive people.
Learn From Your Mistakes To Improve In The Future
On the flip side, if your brand is taking justifiable criticism online, let it be a learning experience.
What could you have done differently to make that launch successful? What will you do differently next time to ensure that you’re practicing outstanding customer service?
The negative mentions can help you learn from your mistakes, so that you don’t make the same mistakes again.
Consider this: If you are a larger brand, and you have the data, at the end of every quarter, gather and organize all the negative comments. Bring them to the table, review them and use them to drive your product and service planning.
That Is All I Have For Now…
If you have customers, then it’s likely that they’re going to say something about your brand online.
Be sure to use the right tools to discover what they’re saying, and then respond accordingly. I hope this post gave you some ideas on how to find, gather, interact with and capitalize on brand mentions.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)