Brand Monitoring: A Complete Field Guide to Owning Your Brand Online

Someone shares their experience with your brand on social media and tags you in it. You can instantly view the mention and take action if necessary – whether that involves thanking them or apologising and resolving their issue. However, not everyone who talks about your company online will tag you. And if it’s a negative opinion, it could significantly impact your reputation.

This makes it crucial for you to conduct brand monitoring to get an idea of what’s being said about your brand. This gives you the opportunity to take appropriate and timely action, and engage with a highly relevant audience. But before you get started with brand monitoring, there are a few things you need to understand.

First, you should understand how brand monitoring can benefit your business. This will help you get a clear idea of how you can get the most out of your brand monitoring efforts. You should also understand what to monitor so you can properly monitor every significant conversation or activity surrounding your brand.

This post will provide you with the complete guide to brand monitoring. You’ll learn about all of the ways in which it can benefit you and everything that you should monitor. You’ll also discover some great free and paid tools to help you with your brand monitoring efforts. Let’s take a look.

Brand Monitoring: A Complete Field Guide to Owning Your Brand Online:

The Importance of Brand Monitoring

Monitoring your brand mentions and brand sentiment can serve you in a number of ways. The main benefits are:

#1: Improve Customer Service and Retention

Every successful business owner understands that attracting new customers is only half the work. Ensuring customer happiness and earning their loyalty is just as important, if not more so, to generate revenue consistently. For this, you need to listen to your customers, respond to their queries and complaints, and provide them with timely support.

And many customers take to social media with their complaints and queries. According to the Sprout Social 2018 Index, 57% of consumers reach out to brands on social media because they have a question. 45% do so because of a product or service issue, and 34% use it to commend a company’s product or service.

reasons people reach out to brands on social

Image Source: Sprout Social

It’s crucial to be responsive to these questions and complaints because they have a huge impact on brand perception. In fact, 21% of consumers are more likely to buy from your brand when they can reach you on social media.

Brand monitoring helps you keep track of all of these queries and complaints, as well as rave reviews, so you can give the appropriate response in a timely manner. This means you’ll be able to provide better, timelier customer service and retain your customers effectively.

#2: Create a Better Product

Brand monitoring is a great way to collect feedback about your product. People may be writing online reviews and expressing their opinions on social media. Some of these opinions may even include smart ideas on how your product could be improved. This can help you identify ways in which your product is lacking so you can build a better product geared towards your customers.

Take for example how KFC UK took a customer’s Twitter feedback about their fries seriously and improved on the item. They even used the customer’s tweet in their marketing campaign.

Your brand monitoring efforts should include clear documentation, where you record all feature requests and complaints. This will help you identify the most requested features and the biggest complaints, so you can make product improvements accordingly.

#3: Boost Your Sales

In addition to identifying customer service and product improvement opportunities, brand monitoring also helps you identify sales opportunities. Some people may be discussing a product online before they decide to buy it. They may even ask around for reviews and opinions within their circles, or asking for some clarifications.

Some may not be asking about a specific product but may be in the market for a product to solve a particular issue. Identifying these conversations and providing consumers with assistance could help them make a faster decision and convert them into customers. In addition, you could even identify disgruntled customers of your competitors. Engaging with them at the right time could help you boost your sales.

#4: Source Relevant Content

Online brand monitoring is a great way to discover great content to share with your followers. It helps you discover content that features your brand – whether it’s a product review, a listicle, or a brand mention.

You could even discover high-quality content that discusses a topic relevant to your product features or industry. So it’s an excellent way to source for relevant content to share on social media and amp up your content marketing strategy.

#5: Measure Your Marketing Impact

Another excellent way to use brand monitoring is by using it to measure how your marketing campaigns are performing. You’ll ideally have a name for your campaign, and you might even use that name as a hashtag for social media promotions. Track the use of your campaign name and hashtag to see how many impressions you’re getting on social media.

You can even dive deeper to see how people are responding to your campaign. Are most of the mentions positive? Similarly, you can use the same tactic to track how your newly-launched product is performing and being received in the market.

Lush Cosmetics, for instance, promoted a Mother’s Day gift box on social media and used the hashtag #LushMothersDay. They can certainly monitor sales to see how much impact their marketing campaign is making. But that’s not always enough to understand its effect on brand perception and engagement.

If they monitor the hashtag, they’ll be able to see that there have been 25,000 posts created with that hashtag within just a couple of days. This shows just how big of an impact their single social media post managed to make.

#6: Monitor the Competition

Finally, brand monitoring is also a great way to keep track of your competition and their performance. Just like you’d track your branded keywords, you can run an analysis of your competitors’ branded keywords and see what people are saying about them. Are there any major complaints? Is there an update that people seem to be excited about? What kind of experiences do their customers have?

This will give you an idea of how you stack up against the competition. In some cases, as mentioned earlier, you might even find opportunities to engage with their disgruntled customers. If your competitors made some mistake and if you have a friendly rivalry, you could even call them out on it with a bit of humour.

Take for example how Wendy’s roasted McDonald’s when the latter’s Twitter account accidentally published their placeholder copy. Their tweet has since been liked 735,000 times and retweeted 266,000 times.

What to Monitor

Now that you know exactly how brand monitoring can benefit your business, the next step is to understand what you need to monitor. There’s a whole range of keywords you can monitor beyond your brand name. So if you want to really make the most of brand monitoring, you will need to get a clear idea of all of these potential keywords.

#1: Branded Keywords and Common Variations

Of course, the first thing you’ll want to monitor is your branded keywords. This could be your brand name or your brand slogan and catch phrases. For example, let’s say you work for Apple. You’d want to monitor the keyword “Apple” and the slogan “think different.”

You should also monitor the variations of your brand name, because not everyone may use the same term to talk about your brand. In this case, “” would be a common variation to track. It’s also crucial that you don’t forget about misspellings. Think of some of the ways in which people might misspell your brand name and monitor those as well.

#2: Product Names

A lot of people who talk about your products may not necessarily mention your brand name. For example, most people would say “the iPhone X” instead of saying “the Apple iPhone X.” So you should monitor your product names, especially when you’ve recently launched a new product and you want to see how it’s being received.

If you want to identify any complaints or issues with the product, you could combine the product name with an issue or problem. For example, keywords like “iPhone X battery draining” or a generic “iPhone X problem” would do the trick. If you’ve recently launched a product update, you could further expand this search term to “iPhone X problem after update” to see if the update caused any issue.

You could even conduct a Google search for “iPhone X issue” and identify the common customer complaints. This will give you an idea of more specific issues that you could include in your search.

#3: Campaign Names

As previously mentioned in the “benefits” section, you can measure the impact of your marketing campaigns by monitoring online mentions of your campaign. People may be discussing your campaign with their networks or writing about it in their blog posts and news reports. They may help promote it through social media and use your campaign hashtags.

For instance, IKEA launched the “Oddly IKEA” campaign. They could track the key phrase as it is to discover conversations that simply mention the campaign. They could also track the hashtag #oddlyIKEA to find social media posts about the campaign.

Finding and analysing these discussions will give you a clear picture of how the campaign resonated with your target audience. It will help you understand what’s working and what isn’t, what you should avoid doing in the future, and what you should continue doing.

#4: Industry-Specific Keywords

Not all brand-relevant discussions may necessarily talk about your brand or your products. It’s important to monitor these conversations as well to gain some insights into the minds of your audience. It will also help you understand the current trends, what people expect out of products in your industry, and more.

For example, if you sell Samsung phones, you might want to monitor the keyword “Android.” You can get a better idea of what other industry-related keywords to monitor by looking at your Google Analytics reports. This will show you some of the keywords that people are using to discover your website.

#5: Product Features and Functions

Similarly, people who are engaging in relevant conversations may not always talk about your product specifically. They may talk about certain product features that they’re looking for or they may share their opinions on how certain product functions should improve. Monitoring these discussions will give you excellent insights on how to improve your product and build a customer-centric product.

You can monitor keywords containing your product’s features and functions. For example, if you sell phones, you could monitor keywords like “voice recognition” or “water resistance.” You might even want to monitor the more technical specifications such as “hexa-core processor.”

#6: Competitor Keywords

As discussed in the “benefits” section, brand monitoring helps you keep an eye on your competitors. And to monitor them, you’ll need to monitor keywords relevant to their brands and businesses. This goes beyond their brand names and slogans and involves their product names, campaign names, and product features as well.

It’s just like how you would monitor your own brand, but you’ll be replacing your brand-related keywords with theirs. For example, if you’re selling Google Pixel phones, you’ll want to monitor brands like OnePlus, which is also known for their high-quality camera phones. So you should use keywords like “OnePlus,” “OnePlus 7,” “OnePlus 6T,” etc. to monitor the competition.

#7: C-Suite and Brand Public Figures

Larger companies may want to monitor executives who are often in the public eye and may be the subject of online conversations. They may even come up in the news or in blog posts. If it’s a positive mention, you’ll want to acknowledge and engage with the content. If it’s a negative mention, you’ll want to measure how big of an impact it might make and quickly do the necessary damage control.

For example, the following articles mentioning Spotify’s CEO, Daniel Ek, would be perfect for the company to share with their followers.


Tools to Conduct Brand Monitoring

Now that you have a clear understanding of all of the keywords you can monitor, let’s take a look at some of the best brand monitoring tools to help you track your keywords.

#1: Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a free and easy to way to get the latest updates about brand mentions and relevant industry topics. You can create alerts about the most relevant keywords you want to monitor. And then you’ll get emails whenever someone uses those keywords online. However, it’s slightly limited in terms of analytics as it only notifies you about the updates.

Image Source: Google Alerts

#2: Mention

Mention is a comprehensive brand monitoring that lets you track conversations in real time. So you’ll be able to provide a timely response to customer complaints and negative brand mentions before the damage is done. The tool collects data from over 1 billion sources including forums, blogs, social media, and more.

It’s an excellent tool to track your competitors’ keywords as well, as it shows you key performance metrics. You’ll be able to compare your performance against that of your competitors and see where you’re lagging behind or staying ahead.

In addition to this, you can also set up automated reports to be delivered to your inbox so you can stay updated even when you’re not monitoring in real time.

Image Source: Mention

#3: Brandwatch Analytics

Brandwatch Analytics lets you discover relevant conversations about your brand online including comments, reviews, social media posts, and articles. You can segment the data into different categories, making it easier to track and organise the most relevant conversations. You’ll be able to see which categories are the most popular, so you know which ones to prioritise.

Image Source: Brandwatch

#4: Talkwater

If you want to go beyond tracking conversations and get a bigger picture of how people actually feel about your brand, you can measure your brand sentiment using tools like Talkwater. In addition to its social listening capabilities, this tool also tracks brand health and sentiment. It even lets you compare your results with that of your competition.

Image Source: Talkwater

#5: Hootsuite

Hootsuite lets you create custom streams to monitor social media content and organise it in tabs so it’s easier to keep track of your data. You can create different types of streams including mentions and retweets. It provides you with an easy way to identify the most relevant conversations by filtering them based on keywords, location, and hashtag.

Image Source: Hootsuite

#6: LexisNexis

Effective brand monitoring isn’t just focused on social media content. It’s important to remember that there may be tons of news articles and radio broadcasts talking about your brand and products. LexisNexis’ Newsdesk simplifies the process of monitoring broadcast and print media to further optimise your brand monitoring efforts.

This tool lets you monitor millions of articles in a day across hundreds of countries and in 75 different languages. You’ll be able to keep track of all relevant brand mentions from multiple sources including radio, television, and print.

#7: Boardreader

Boardreader is a free tool to effectively crawl through discussion panels and message boards and discover relevant conversations about your brand in the comments section. You can track both your brand name and industry-related keywords to find trending discussions. Be warned, however, because people tend to be a lot more brutal with their comments on message boards.

Image Source: Boardreader

Best Practices for Successful Brand Monitoring

When you know exactly what to monitor and what tools you can use, you’re pretty much set. However, you can get even more out of your brand monitoring efforts by following the best practices below:

#1: Set Up Alerts for Negative Mentions

While acknowledging positive comments is a great way to build a connection with your audience, it isn’t particularly time-sensitive. Negative comments, on the other hand, need a quick response before they can do much damage. So it’s crucial that you set up alerts for negative brand mentions and quickly react with the necessary solutions.

Negative mentions could include your brand or product name along with a specific issue. You could also combine your brand and product name with the keywords “problem” or “issue.”

#2: Have a Game Plan for What to Do Next

Monitoring your brand mentions isn’t enough; you need to have a clear idea of what to do with the results. Do you respond to positive comments or only react to them? Do you provide resolutions to customer complaints for the public to see? Or perhaps you make an attempt to resolve it in private.

Netflix, for instance, takes their customer suggestions and complaints very seriously. If someone complains about a show not being available in their region, the brand’s social media team quickly responds with a solution. They even respond to the customer’s positive response to their help.

When articles feature your brand, will you share it and tag the writer and/or publication? You should clearly outline the game plan for the most common scenarios so that everyone in your team knows exactly what to do with your data. You might even want to assign a response team to handle this rather than having just any person respond to your customers.

#3: Know When to Engage and When to Be Silent

One of the most vital lessons to learn about brand monitoring is that not everything is worth your energy. You may get tons of valuable feedback and genuine complaints from people. However, there may be an equal amount of people complaining about nothing specific and trying to stir up some drama.

In addition, some issues may be too sensitive to respond to. It’s important for your team to identify these conversations and brand mentions, and understand which ones they should engage with and which ones they should leave alone.

#4: Learn from Your Competition

Your competitors can teach you a lot about customer service and brand engagement – whether it’s through their successes or failures. So make sure you monitor the competition and analyse their strategies to see what works and what doesn’t.

What do their customers like about them? How are people responding to them? What tone of voice are they using and do their customers like it? Are they getting negative backlash over a recent campaign? If so, what mistake did they make and how can you avoid it?

All of these insights about your competitors can help you improve your marketing and engagement strategy.

Final Thoughts

Now you have it – the ultimate guide to brand monitoring. Not only do you know the importance of brand monitoring, you also know exactly what you can monitor. You also have a few ideas for tools that can help you monitor your keywords and brand sentiment online.

And most importantly, you’ve discovered some of the best practices that will deliver better results and help you organise your efforts. Use these tips to get the most out of your brand monitoring efforts and understand your audience better.

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.