When creating a social media strategy for your brand, there are two things you want to focus on – how you’re talking to your customers, and how you’re getting them to respond.

Getting your audience to engage with you on social media is just as important, if not more important, as your messaging and promotional strategies within your content. Ensuring that your audience is talking about your brand online, responding to your content and interacting with your community is key to a successful social media strategy.

All of this buzz surrounding your brand online is called social mentions. And having a plan in place on how to handle these social mentions is essential. Let’s talk a little bit more about what this means.

What are social mentions?

Social mentions include any mention of your business on social media.

It’s important to remember this doesn’t only include the mentions that tag your business. There are tons of conversations about your brand on social media that you aren’t receiving notifications for.

This is why it’s so essential to put a plan in place for how to handle these. Tracking all of your social mentions, not just the ones directly tagging your business online, and responding to them accordingly helps to build brand trust and loyalty with your audience.

Why are social mentions important?

To put it simply, when people talk about your brand, they’re spreading the word that it exists. If their feedback is positive, this could lead to new customers and more revenue generated.

On the other hand, if their feedback is negative, and you’re not tracking these mentions to find and resolve the problems, it could result in a poor reputation amongst that customers’ circle.

Whether you like it or not, people are talking about your business online, and you want to be sure you’re on top of those conversations so that you can respond and further engage your audience.

How to respond to your social mentions

Each time you find a mention of your business on social media, you should make an effort to respond to it. You’ll have an opportunity to interact with people who are already aware of and interested in your brand.

There are many reasons people may be mentioning your brand – and they might not even be customers. It’s important to know how to respond to each of these different types of social media mentions.

1. Sharing product photos

You’ll often see customers share photos of your product, food, establishment, etc., whatever you have that’s photogenic. People love to share their experiences on social media, and when tagged brands interact with them online, it makes that customer feel acknowledged and appreciated.

Take this example from Day Designer on Instagram.

social mentions on instagram - day designer responding to product photos

You can see in the sidebar that Day Designer’s Instagram account both liked and commented on this customer’s photo of her planner.

Taking the time out to acknowledge the people who have shared your product is a great way to build brand loyalty. It doesn’t have to be anything special – just a “Thanks for sharing!” along with a personalized comment is enough.

2. Providing feedback

Sometimes customers will reach out simply to provide feedback, whether it’s a, “Hey, I really loved this,” or they have an idea that could help your business to improve.

This is incredibly important for you to find and listen to. After all, your audience cares enough to offer free advice for improvement in your business, product or service, be diligent and courteous enough to respond.

Here’s a great example of how Slack, a widely used team communication tool, responded to some feedback from a customer.

slack responding to a customer feedback social mention

Acknowledging that a customer has given you feedback or service requests and assuring them you’ll let the correct team know, or that you’ll be sure to work on this, is a great way to respond.

3. Sharing a bad experience

Remember this: If a customer shares a bad experience with your company online, it’s likely they simply wanted to vent. Finding these social media mentions provides your brand with the perfect opportunity to turn their experience around.

The best way to respond is to immediately move the conversation to a more private location and work to resolve the issue, like Grammarly did here.

grammarly responding to a bad experience on a twitter social mention

Take a look at how Moe’s handled a similar issue.

moe's responding to a bad experience on a twitter social mention

They apologized and asked the customer to send them a direct message so that they could take care of the issue. And you can see with the customer’s follow up response, they were happy with the service they received.

4. Asking for help

Customers might also reach out or mention your brand when asking for help or support with an issue.

Larger companies may have dedicated marketing teams to handle their social mentions separate from those handling development or support issues. However, it’s a good idea for any size company to have a plan in place to handle these types of social mentions.

Here’s an example of a Sprout Social user mentioning us on Twitter about a support issue. Our social team took the opportunity to take the conversation into our direct messages so that we could get a better idea of the issue and direct it to the appropriate team.

sprout social support question on twitter social mention

Respond to any support queries by letting the customer know you’re here to help, and take action on the request to make sure it gets resolved. Most customers expect a response on social media within a day or less. If you lag in responding to your social mentions, your customers could turn to your competitors instead.

5. Mentioning your brand in an article

You definitely want to stay on top of your press mentions and monitor all of your accolades in an article.

Many people who write about your brand will share the article link and mention you on social media in an attempt to get you to also share that article. In this case, we’re sharing positive experiences, so take the opportunity to thank the user, and possibly a share as well.

Here’s a great example of Biteable responding to a mention in an article.

biteable responding to a press social mention on twitter

Biteable might then add that article into their own arsenal of content to share on social media. It’s a great way to add user-generated content into your editorial calendar.

Tips for responding to your social mentions

How that you know a few types of social mentions you might see, let’s cover a few basic tips for responding, particularly to negative social mentions.

  • Respond quickly. Consumers expect real-time responses and interactions from brands, so to protect your reputation, you should monitor these mentions and respond to them as quickly as possible.
  • Stay positive. Even if the person mentioning your brand is extremely unhappy, always manage to stay positive and reassure them that you’re going to do whatever you can to make things right for them.
  • Move the conversation to a private setting. Notice how in many of our examples, the brand immediately asked the user to message them privately. This is because it can be better to handle things privately rather than out in the open. Ask users to DM you, send them a link to a support channel or send a better contact email address.
  • Know when to stop responding. Unfortunately, there will always be issues that you simply can’t solve and customers that you simply can’t please. Make sure you know when an issue is getting to that point and when you need to disengage.
  • Turn the conversation around. If a customer is having a bad experience or a support issue, do whatever you can to turn the conversation around and ensure they are satisfied in the end.

How to track your social mentions

Now that you know why social mentions are so important and how to respond to different ones, it’s time to talk about how to find all of these social mentions. Because all of this knowledge is useless if you don’t know how to monitor mentions aside from those in your notifications.

Let’s go over our top four tactics to track social media mentions so that you can respond to every online reference to your brand.

1. Create a hashtag for your customer to use in their social posts.

One incredibly easy way to find mentions of your brand is by providing them with a hashtag. Not only does this make it much faster for you to search for social mentions, but it’s a great way to gather user-generated content to share on your own feeds.

Many brands will include their hashtag in their social media bios or on their website so users can easily find it and remember to tag it. Others will even include it on packaging slips or paper marketing materials when shipping products to let customers know how they can share photos with their brand.

Take a look at how Visme shares their hashtag right in their Instagram bio.

visme's brand hashtag in their instagram bio asks as a way of social mentioning

If you decide to take this angle, know that this can’t be your only method of tracking social mentions. This is just one great way to collect mentions easily. But you still need to be able to find the ones that aren’t necessarily trying to get your attention.

2. Search for your business name on each platform.

Each social media platform has their own search features that can help you find what you’re looking for, and most provide a great way to double check if your brand name has been mentioned in a post without tagging you.

On Facebook, simply type your brand name into the search bar, then click on the Posts tab to find posts including your brand name.

facebook search for branded social mentions

You’ll likely also see posts from your brand in your results, but as you scroll through the results, you’ll find public brand mentions in Facebook Groups, on Pages and on profiles as well.

public posts with branded social mentions about sprout social on facebook

You can also set parameters for where and when the posts were created – what year, in a group or on a Page, and more.

On Twitter, simply type “your brand” – use quotation marks to ensure an exact match – in Twitter’s search bar, and navigate to the Latest tweets to find your results.

twitter search for sprout social mentions

As you can see above, the first result isn’t even tagging Sprout Social, so our social team otherwise would have no idea that they were tweeting about us if they weren’t monitoring.

On LinkedIn, type your brand name in the search bar, then click Content to filter only mentions within LinkedIn posts.

linkedin search for sprout social mentions

Other social media platforms don’t have their search features quite as robust yet, so you’ll have to subscribe to one – or both – of the following tactics.

3. Set up social monitoring with Sprout Social

Using a tool for social monitoring is important to help ensure you don’t miss a single mention. While the above two tactics can help you to find social mentions, they’re not quite as foolproof as setting up social monitoring with Sprout.

Setting this up is incredibly easy, and helps ensure you never miss a single brand mention. Go to your Messages tab in your Sprout dashboard and find manage your Brand Keywords on the left-hand sidebar. Note that Brand Keywords will pull only from Twitter.

setting up social monitoring in Sprout Social with keywords

Here, type in your brand name in different variations if you have them, as well as common misspellings or abbreviations that you’ve seen.

Save these as keywords, and your Smart Inbox will curate all messages that include any of your chosen mentions. This way, you’ll easily find your mentions in the Inbox and respond accordingly.

4. Use Sprout’s social listening feature

While social monitoring and social listening are in the same family, they require different strategies. Plus, they’re set up differently in your Sprout dashboard.

Social listening is a more advanced strategy than social monitoring. The biggest takeaway is that social monitoring is more for finding social mentions to respond to, and social listening is more for understanding what your audience is talking about in your industry and what they want to hear from your brand.

Social listening is a next-level strategy that helps you act upon all of the social mentions you’ve found. Check out our article on social listening to learn even more about how to properly set this up for your business.

Ready to monitor your social media mentions?

Now that we’ve covered the what, the why and the how, it’s your turn to take action. Sign up for a 30-day free trial of Sprout Social to try our social monitoring tool and see the difference it makes when reaching out to customers.