If someone talks about your company online, will you hear about it? What if they never tagged you in the first place? Brand monitoring keeps you informed on what’s said about your brand, helps you find new people to engage with and even tracks your competitors’ moves.

For small businesses and those without a PR agency on retainer, there are tools available to help you track your brand in all the various channels. Even if you’re not active on Reddit, you’d still want to know if your company made it onto their front page.

We’ll dive in on what types of keywords you want to monitor and why you would want to monitor them. In addition, we’ll offer free and paid options on how to monitor your brand.

What to Monitor

Branded Keywords

At the most basic, you’ll want to monitor your company’s name, iterations and misspellings of the brand and any associated products. On social media, you’ll want to also monitor any branded hashtags, especially if they’re different from your brand name.

Next up in the branded keywords would be common phrases or marketing slogans. This list may evolve as you create new marketing campaigns or shed inactive ones.

Nike’s “Just Do It.” tagline is forever tied with the brand. It’s so representative that it’s the only content in their Instagram bio. The hashtag #justdoit is attached to over 13 million sports-related photos and videos.

Industry Trends or Related Phrases

Monitoring here is more informational than what’s being said about your brand online. If your brand often comes up in certain keyword search results, you’ll want to monitor what’s rising to the top. Furthermore, it helps you watch out for trends and competitors as they emerge.

To get an idea of what keywords to start with here, you can take a look at your website’s analytics reports. Google Analytics lists some search keywords that people use to find your site.

C-Suite & Other Public Figures

Depending on how large your business is or how much in the public eye your executive is, you may also want to monitor for your executives’ names. Your executives are part of your brand and monitoring when they come up in blogs, news or other conversations is important.

An extra bonus here is that if your CEO is active in the community and/or on social media, that’s more content for your brand.

The CEO of T-Mobile is known for being active on Twitter, sharing bits of his personal life and occasionally engaging with customers. The T-Mobile help team also monitors his social media, jumping in when a customer issue or question comes up.

Why Brand Monitoring is Important & How to Execute It

Reputation Management

One of the best reasons for monitoring your brand is to quickly respond to reviews and feedback. Most brands can benefit from some form of reputation management. For example, a hotel might want to monitor TripAdvisor while a restaurant would consider Yelp.

In a 2017 Brightlocal survey on reviews, 68% of US customers reported that positive reviews made them more likely to use a local business. And one review isn’t enough. The average customer reads seven reviews before trusting a business.

What does this mean for your brand? For one, responding to reviews publicly shows potential customers that you’re available and listening. If the review is negative, it also allows you a chance to offer a solution and incorporate their feedback into your company’s practices.

For review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, it’s best to sign up for the business pages and receive notifications of new reviews. If you have a brick and mortar location, signing up for Google My Business gives you control over what shows up for your business when they pull up Google Maps. It also lets you respond to any reviews that are left.

business reviews in sprout inbox

Sprout Social offers Facebook review management directly in your Smart Inbox, so you can handle these as easily as you can a Facebook comment.

For a free option, you can opt in for notifications in Facebook when someone leaves a review or checks in at your business. There are many ways to stay on top of reviews and ignoring them can only be harmful for you.

Sentiment Analysis

How do customers feel about your brand and why is it important? You can blast marketing copy out all day but at the end, you still want to know if people are buying your story. Are they feeling positive or happy with their purchases? Or are they upset at a recent store interaction?

A sentiment analysis takes an overall look at what people are feeling about your brand. Using the list of branded keywords that you had put together earlier, you can search to see how people feel about your products.

Social Mention is a free, real-time tool that searches corners of the internet and gives you a general sentiment analysis. In the case above, we narrowed the search down to Twitter only and you can see that seven of the search results were deemed positive.

Sprout Listening Hashtag Report

Sprout’s own Twitter reports gives you topics that are frequently mentioned with your handle. This can come in handy in identifying sentiment if certain emotional words like “love” or “excited” crop up with your handle. The Listening report also gives insight on positive and negative emotions tied to your brand.

Sprout listening topic sentiment

Customer Engagement

Another important reason for monitoring your brand is that it gives you the opportunity to engage with customers. Customers don’t always tag brands or location check-in on social media. Instead, they may use hashtags in their place or only write the brand name in the post.

The best way to monitor your brand on social media is to keep searches saved in your favorite tool. Twitter’s own platform allows for saved searches and hashtags, and you can do the same in Sprout.

Grubhub responds to customers’ Tweets, even when the business isn’t tagged. It keeps the brand at the top of the customers’ minds. Continual monitoring also helps the business handle complaints easily and quickly.

Sprout smart inbox

If you’d prefer to not have all of your searches scattered around, Sprout’s Smart Inbox lets you save multiple searches across different networks. You can answer a Tweet and in the next moment, respond to an Instagram tagged with your brand name.

Content Sourcing

Brand monitoring can be useful for finding new content to share. If you don’t work with a PR agency, setting up alerts is your next best option. Since we’ve already discussed how to monitor on social media, we’ll focus on the blogs and news for this portion.

If a blogger writes a post about your brand, you’ll want to know about it. Or if a holiday gift list came out, you’ll want to know that your product was listed. Knowing when you’re talked about, especially when it’s in a positive light, gives you additional content to share on social media.

To start, Google Alerts and Talkwalker Alerts are both free and easy to set up. With Boolean search operators and filters, you can easily narrow down the types of search results you want to receive.

For a more encompassing view of your brand online, you can turn to paid options that are designed specifically for this purpose. While there are dozens out there, you can start with Mentionlytics, Mention and BrandsEye. Brand monitoring is a niche of its own and if your business is large enough, it may pay to use these services.

Competitor Analysis

And last but not least, brand monitoring helps you keep on top of what your competitors are doing. You can employ the same keyword and execution tactics that you use for keeping track of your own brand. In some circumstances, you can also engage with unhappy customers to offer a better solution.

Sprout listening message results

Facebook’s Page Insights lets you track other Pages to see how they’ve performed throughout the week. It also lists their top engaging post.

facebook competitors report

Sprout Social’s reports gives insight on how your competitors are doing on Instagram and Twitter. You can see how you perform against them over a specific period of time.

Other paid tools like Alexa and Ahrefs are able to track backlinks and search results so you’ll know when competitors are ranking higher in keywords than you. How you track your competitors is up to you. If SEO is important to your traffic and sales, it may be worth investing in a tool that will track these analytics for you.

Monitoring your brand online is an essential part of any marketer’s job. It helps you track how customers might be feeling about your products, it keeps you ahead of any PR crises and it provides you with new content to share. Furthermore, the same tactics you use for tracking your own brand can be employed for monitoring your competitors’ moves.

We weren’t able to list all of the tools available out there so we’d love to know: what tools have you enjoyed using for brand monitoring? What tactics have you found to be the most useful and effective?