Part of managing your organization’s brand is being consistently aware of what others are saying about it. You can’t engage your audience or your market base if you can’t see your organization through their eyes. You should also be comparing your brand to competing brands, and you can’t do this if you aren’t monitoring both them and yourself. One of the most effective ways to do this is to monitor what’s being said about your organization, who’s saying it and how much influence they have. Think of this exercise as the narcissistic approach to brand management.
Tools to Monitor Your Brand and Your Competitor’s Brand
I was previously the content manager for a very prominent business in the online LSP (language service provider) industry. The owner of the business demanded I keep careful watch–using Google Alerts–over any mentions of his service brand name as well as that of his closest competitor. This is a smart approach, as it allows you to notice dissatisfaction regarding products throughout your industry and to efficiently correct and avoid them. Brand monitoring should not be used for mud-slinging. Use Google Alerts to your advantage, but just don’t go there – it’s a bad idea all around.
There are a lot of great apps out there, both low and high in price, with which you can monitor major social media platforms, blogs, news sites, articles, microblogs, TV and radio—and some even print. Furthermore, these apps can supply you with social analytics, comparison tools, website tracking, reporting and much more. A few of these apps include:
Topsy is a free monitoring tool that can boast searching every Tweet that’s ever been tweeted since Twitter’s launch in 2006 – that’s something hardly any other tool, app or browser can claim. It also provides the ability to reply to individual mentions on Twitter and has additional features such as social analytics and social trends, data filters, influencer identifiers and more. Did I mention it’s free?
This app provides free business and enterprise packages, and they offer a 30-day trial period for the paid packages. Mention has a ton of features, including team and multiple device support, real-time social alerts, web alerts, data export and data analysis.
This app is for the serious enterprise. It’s very much the opposite of free, but it will monitor the hell out of your brand name, and then some. You can add a query while tracking a particular site; the data returned includes a topic cloud. By monitoring a competitor site, you can easily discover the topics they cover most and compare it to yours.
For example, let’s say you have a ceramic cookware brand. You blog about baking a lot, while your competitor blogs more about cooking. You can use Brandwatch to monitor your own social channels alongside competing brands to compare how and by whom each brand is being talked about. You can measure your brand’s mentions and compare and contrast your content marketing topics. This can be a very effective way to learn many other business and marketing strategies and whether changes should be made in your own brand management and content marketing.
Social Media Browsers/Extensions
Browsers like social mention allow you to monitor mentions of your brand name, specific keywords, or your competitor’s brand name across blogs, Tweets, Facebook posts, microblogs and more.
This is obviously not the most enjoyable means of brand monitoring, but it should be done. This complaint search can help you to search over 40 complaint sites, so you can check to see whether your company is among them. If you don’t see anything, don’t get too comfortable – it could be that something is out there and just hasn’t ranked up there yet. How you approach the complaints is up to you – some brands go out of their way to appease those who are very vocally unhappy with a brand, others ignore them, and some defend themselves. It’s fairly atypical to get overly involved with complainants (especially if they don’t seem to be influencing anyone), but a nice gesture can be an effective pacifier, too.
However, unless you monitor your organization, you won’t be able to react. Brands that consistently monitor what is being said and who is saying it are better at understanding, communicating with and engaging their audience, which makes sense. When you continually look at your brand from various viewpoints and through different eyes, you’re able to see your company from those perspectives that matter most: your audience.