If a brand is mentioned online and no one from the brand’s marketing team is around to see it, does it make a difference? Yes, it does.
Brand management is a continuous process that requires the full and undivided attention of the marketing team. And for a good reason — growing brand awareness, monitoring reputation, boosting visibility, and enhancing the perceived value of a brand all at the same time is no easy job.
Meanwhile, brand management is a job that pays off. To prove my point, below are some branding stats every marketer and business owner needs to consider.
Branding happens everywhere. For the past 10 years or so, it’s been mostly happening online. Online is where consumers do their research on products and services they consider, online is where brands build and grow customer bases, online is where purchase decisions (and purchases!) are made.
With 3.6 billion people using social media, there’s every reason to care about your brand’s online presence.
What’s equally important to realize is that a brand’s online presence can not be reduced to the content coming from within. Your audience contributes just as much to the brand’s visibility as your in-house marketing team.
In fact, the audience is what makes or breaks a brand’s reputation. Therefore, monitoring what’s being said about your company online is a vital part of managing your brand in 2020 and beyond.
What is brand monitoring?
Brand monitoring is the process of collecting and analyzing mentions of a brand that appear on social media and the web. What you do with the mentions depends on the channel the mentions were found on and the contents of individual conversations.
- Mentions from the media and major publishers pave the way for your PR strategy.
- Mentions from social media influencers indicate collaboration opportunities.
- Mentions from customers reveal user concerns, questions, and requests that help to build better products and services.
The list goes on. Ultimately, continuous brand monitoring becomes the basis of reputation and crisis management, with real-time insights on marketing and PR campaigns, product decisions, and customer support among other things.
When doing brand monitoring, the channels to keep an eye on are many, and you might not need every single one of them at all times. However, it’s important to focus on major social networks, news, blogs, and industry websites.
Benefits of brand monitoring
Brand monitoring is what keeps you in complete sync with your audience. And putting the audience first is what guarantees the success of any marketing and business strategy.
The benefits of brand monitoring become very clear once you consider all the use cases of real-time intel on what the customers say about your brand.
1. Reputation Monitoring
Reputation is an asset that takes a while to build and an instant to ruin. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep track of your brand’s reputation even when nobody’s looking, because the Internet never sleeps.
When you set up automated brand monitoring — be it via Google Alerts, Search Console, or TweetDeck — you spend nothing but save a lot of effort in the long-term.
Keeping an eye on how your brand is mentioned online becomes as simple as checking on your monitoring tools.
Then, you can use the insights for adjusting the course of your marketing campaign or re-working the whole strategy if needed.
Oatly, a Swedish oat milk brand notorious for its edgy advertising and unapologetic content decisions, took reputation management to the next level and used a genuine negative review to the product’s advantage.
By putting the review on the packaging and using it generously on corporate social media, Oatly reverse-engineered a real-life negative brand mention and generated a lot of positive engagement and admiration.
2. Crisis Management
Crisis management is tied closely to reputation monitoring, but it requires more attention and involvement on your part. Crisis management is usually the domain of PR teams.
They keep close tabs on how a brand/company is perceived by its target audiences, execute a strategy aimed at promoting goodwill, deal with negative media coverage, and assign speakers to represent company interests in any given scenario.
For many companies, crisis management boils down to nurturing a positive image of the brand via campaigns, events, and consistent media coverage, and having a crisis management plan in case anything goes wrong.
In the context of brand monitoring, crisis management boils down to paying constant attention to the tone behind brand mentions, especially on social media.
A brand monitoring workflow that includes sentiment analysis of social media posts requires either a team of full-time social media managers or a sentiment analysis tool.
If you choose the latter, crisis management boils down to keeping an eye on the prevailing tone behind brand mentions, as well as any irregular dynamics.
When Barclays launched its Pingit app and started monitoring the sentiment of conversations around the brand, it became clear that a segment of the app’s audience was underserved.
Specifically, customers were upset with the age restrictions that didn’t allow users under 18 to use the mobile banking service. Barclays reacted promptly and modified the restriction, which resulted in an overwhelmingly positive sentiment of the customers’ feedback.
3. Campaign Monitoring
Campaign monitoring is real-time measurement of campaign results. This includes the engagement generated by campaign materials, subscriptions and purchases placed, and, of course, the feedback people share online with their followers and friends.
Campaign monitoring is essential because it allows for timely adjustments before too much money is spent on an unpopular strategy.
There’s no better way to get real-time feedback on your marketing campaigns than to monitor mentions of your brand, campaign name, or hashtags.
With automated brand monitoring, it only takes a couple of clicks to get to campaign insights and see how it’s being received and what needs to be re-evaluated.
Campaign managers have their ways of tracking campaign progress and the kind of engagement it generates.
However, continuous brand monitoring helps put things in perspective and benchmark campaign progress against audience engagement and user activity at different points in time.
Nestlé Purina was one of the pioneers of campaign monitoring with a multi-channel approach to brand management.
When the company launched its “Feed the Cattitude” campaign back in 2012, marketing execs focused on monitoring brand mentions on social media. By doing so, they were able to measure user engagement, track the sentiment of campaign-related conversations, and uncover major topics and trends.
4. Customer Support
Long gone are the days when customer support was provided exclusively via email and live chats. More and more consumers go on social media to ask questions, voice their concerns, and receive guidance and assistance from businesses.
In fact, over ⅓ of people expect their support requests to be addressed the same day they posted them on social media.
What happens to an unanswered support request on social media? In the best-case scenario, it just stays there, exposed to friends and followers of the person who posted it.
In the worst-case scenario, it gets endorsed by other unhappy users and the brand receives a lot of negative visibility for not caring about customer concerns. Brand monitoring is the way to identify and handle support requests on time.
Hilton is a prime example of speedy and efficient customer support via brand monitoring. The brand’s average response time to customer tweets is 37.3 minutes, making the company quick to handle consumer requests and concerns.
Thanks to dedicated monitoring and analytics tools, Hilton team makes the most of customer support on social media.
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5. Influencer Marketing
Unless you sell literal ice to penguins, people talk about your company online. Among the people who mention your brand on social media, there might be influencers and opinion leaders.
These people have bigger followings and can be regarded as your prospective brand ambassadors. The trick is to find them before your competitors do.
Brand monitoring brings you all conversations about your company happening on social media and the web.
More often than not, this means that you get to discover niche influencers talking about your company. If you up your brand monitoring game and set up a Boolean search for a specific word combination featuring your brand name, you’ll find even more motivated influencers likely to be willing to collaborate.
Glossier is a beauty brand that takes influencer marketing seriously, and for a good reason. “Glossier in real life” is a hub for micro-influencers to showcase the company’s products to their respective audiences while also amplifying the brand’s visibility globally.
By building relationships with micro-influencers who already have a voice in a certain niche, brands like Glossier grow awareness by creating genuine communities.
6. Social Selling
Last but not least, brand monitoring provides a window to lead generation on social media. A promptly resolved customer support request is visible to the entirety of social media and, therefore, exposes your brand to new audiences of potential customers.
Meanwhile, a well-handled product research people make on social media before making a purchase also results in lead prospects who can be converted into paying customers.
When you keep track of brand mentions, you know exactly what kind of social media posts your company appears in.
Be it an information request or a recommendation from one social media user to another, you can always step in and offer a free trial, provide expert opinion, or issue a discount code — depending on the user profile and the nature of their post.
Some social media monitoring and analytics tools even boast a designated social selling module.
If not, you can always utilize your tool’s full potential and set up a lead generation workflow incorporated into brand monitoring.
Probably the most widely quoted social selling success story is IBM’s 400% increase in sales attributed to using corporate content and social accounts to support the sales team.
Lead generation via social media is no longer a distant future but the reality we live in, and brands like IBM prove the point perfectly.
How to set up brand monitoring?
Brand monitoring has lived through two eras: Google Alerts and post-Google Alerts.
Back in the day, monitoring the web for mentions of a brand was all you could do to track online visibility and media coverage. Google Alerts was revolutionary, and it was all brand managers could ever ask for.
It was more than enough, too: in the early 2000s, social networks were barely a thing, and blogs were the only source to monitor.
Therefore, Google Alerts had the spotlight for a good while, until social media started expanding and monitoring the web alone was no longer an option.
As soon as the talk of the town moved over to social networks, brand managers started looking for tools that’d help track social media conversations.
Today, there are many toolkit options for social media monitoring and analytics that deliver anything from audience demographics to lead prospects.
With a tool like Awario (full disclosure: I’m on Awario’s marketing team), Talkwalker, or Brandwatch, you can set up fully automated brand monitoring that covers all of the Internet and brings insights you can use right away.
All it takes is putting in your brand name, social media handles, and anything that ties back to your products, campaigns, and initiatives. From there, it boils down to specifying parameters like languages, sources, date range, and similar — and you’re good to go!
Having a designated brand monitoring tool is essentially having a superhuman assistant monitoring social media and the web 24/7.
This gives you access to real-time results and actionable performance insights backed by reliable social data analytics.
On top of that, you can expand brand monitoring to competitors and benchmark your progress against industry leaders.
Whether or not you choose to go with a designated brand monitoring tool in the long run, make sure you consider this option and test-drive some toolkits to see what difference they can make for your brand.
Brand monitoring is an essential and rewarding task that can be automated to perfection. With everything there is to gain from keeping an eye on your online visibility and representation, use cases of monitoring your brand mentions are many.
- Reputation and crisis management.
- Campaign monitoring.
- Customer support.
- Influencer marketing.
- Social selling.
What’s important is deciding on the tool and figuring out a workflow that works best for you. I hope this article helps you get started.
About the Author
Julia Miashkova is a social data analyst with a background in public relations and SEO. Her focus is social media listening research and data journalism.