Ultimately, successful marketing tells the world that you are the best at what you do. You use marketing to show potential customers why you are the best choice for them. Successful branding, on the other hand, works the opposite way. If you create a successful brand, your customers will tell you (and anybody else who will listen) why you are perfect for solving their problems. Positive brand mentions, therefore, can provide excellent proof you can use for your marketing campaigns. They also make your marketing task easier. Why invest so heavily in promoting yourself, when your customers happily market for you?
Conversely, some brand mentions can be highly critical, indeed brutal, about a business. If left unchallenged or unresolved, they may even kill a company. You can’t create successful marketing for a business unless you first deal with its problem of negative brand mentions.
Why Brand Monitoring is Vital to Your Marketing Success:
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Why You Should Monitor Brand Mentions
In an ideal world, every mention of your brand online would be positive. Your glowing fans would be spreading the gospel about the benefits of your product. Alas, it isn’t quite as simple as that. A proportion of your brand mentions may be from dissatisfied customers, and as the old saying goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the most grease” (i.e. “only the loudest whiner gets what he wants.”
It is far better if you know of any concerns about your brand. You can resolve the problems you know about. However, you can’t fix issues you don’t know to exist, and your inaction can itself be looked upon negatively.
You also want to know about positive brand mentions. You can leverage these to help your marketing efforts.
By keeping track of your brand mentions, you can gain a better understanding of what your customers feel about your product. It is likely to be useful feedback, even when it's negative. It can even help highlight where you should prioritize your product development to meet your customer’s needs better.
What is Brand Perception?
There can be a vast gulf between how a brand sees itself and how others view it. One problem is that brand owners often look at their brand in terms of aspiration, rather than reality.
Brand perception focuses on how outsiders see the brand. A business can’t control its brand perception. All they can do is to improve customer service and product quality sufficiently to lead to a change in brand perception.
In many ways, however, brand perception is as important a part of marketing a brand as controllable aspects like logos, colors, and imagery. These mean nothing if people view a brand negatively. People don’t buy your product because they like your logo. Consumers may buy your product once because of stylistic packaging and aesthetics. But they won’t return unless the product meets their expectations and they believe your customer service is up to the mark.
Better Understanding Your Customers’ Point of View
Too many forms develop their products and services isolated from their customer base. They are often production-driven – designing and making a product, and then trying to sell that product to a wary public. Marketing-driven companies usually work in reverse. They try and develop a product that better meets the needs of a particular niche of society. Product-driven companies start with the product and then try and find suitable customers. Market-driven firms begin with a preferred type of customer and then try and find a suitable product that they believe will be of value to that group.
No matter which philosophy your firm follows, you can use brand mentions to help you move forward. They can help you better understand how consumers interact with your product or service.
Brand mentions represent actual consumer interaction with your product. No amount of testing, surveying, or modeling can replace the benefits of seeing and understanding actual consumer usage. By tracking brand mentions, you can see how people interact with your product and use that knowledge to affect both future product updates and upcoming marketing campaigns.
You might even find unintentional side effects of your product (both positive and negative). More than one product has become best known for its unintended usage. Some examples include:
- Texting – texting was initially developed by cell phone companies so they could let their customers know about any network problems. The customers, however, decided otherwise and started sending each other messages.
- Kleenex – the company intended their product to be disposable towels for removing makeup. However, they received many brand mentions (in the days well before the internet) that their product was excellent for blowing noses.
- WD40 was designed to displace and repeal standing water to prevent corrosion in nuclear missiles. However, consumers found a whole lot of other uses for it, changing it from a niche item to a mass market product
Many brand mentions are unfiltered mini-reviews of a product - some positive, some negative, virtually all valuable for company reflection, product development, and customer service improvement. Firms can use them to continuously improve how their organization operates.
You may cringe when a dissatisfied customer writes a scathing review on Yelp or publicly disses your service on Facebook, but it can be valuable feedback. You shouldn’t automatically put up the shutters and dismiss it as unwarranted.
Of course, not all negative brand mentions are fair. They are merely somebody’s opinion, after all. But it is nonetheless useful feedback of at least one person’s opinion.
Know Your Customers
One of the greatest benefits of monitoring brand mentions is that it helps brands better understand their customers. It is often useful to break your data down by demographics such as general age, gender, location, language, professions, and interests. Different demographic groups are likely to have differing views of your product. For every pensioner complaining about the loud noise coming from a concert, you will find young people raving about the quality of the music played.
Therefore, some brand mentions will be more relevant to you than others. Snapchat will probably be unconcerned whenever they here an “old person” (i.e., over 30) complaining online that they can’t understand who would be interested in disappearing photo messages. However, they probably listened carefully when their typical customers complained about their new interface a while back.
If you know your customers and how they perceive your brand, you can act to improve the situation. If a problem has been expressed vis social media, it makes sense for brands to try and resolve any issue there too. Social media is one of the easiest ways to change brand perception.
Another reason to know your customers is that it makes it much easier to go where they are. If your customers spend time on Twitter, you should be visible there too. If you are into fashion or beauty, then it is a no-brainer that you should have a professional well-presented Instagram account, easily visible to all you deal with. It is much easier to monitor conversations about your brand if you are part of them, or at least aware of them.
Too Many Companies Ignore Customer Feedback
According to research carried out by Maritz and Evolve24, more than 70% of companies ignore complaints on Twitter. Twitter may not have the reach of Facebook or Instagram now, but it is still a major social network, with large numbers of people viewing each tweet. Yet most companies simply ignore complaints they receive on the medium – indeed unless they use social monitoring software they probably never know of their existence.
Another interesting statistic from that survey is that 83% of the complainants that received a reply liked or loved the fact that the company responded. It often doesn’t take much to resolve an issue, often a mere recognition that there could be a problem is enough.
How do You Monitor Brand Mentions?
We recently covered this in detail in our Complete Field Guide to Owning Your Brand Online.
You first need to consider what terms you are going to want to monitor. Ideally, this should be more than just your company name. You should consider monitoring any:
- Branded keywords and common variations (e.g., Apple, iPhone, iPad, MacBook)
- Product names (e.g., iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad Mini)
- Campaign names (e.g., Shot on iPhone)
- Industry-specific keywords (e.g., 5G, international roaming)
- Product features and functions (e.g., iCloud, Siri)
- Competitor keywords (e.g., Android, Samsung)
- C-Suite and brand public figures (e.g., Tim Cook, Steve Jobs)
You can begin your brand monitoring process by using Google Alerts. Each day Google will send you an email alerting you to cases where websites have mentioned your brand. Google Alerts will only send you a small subset of your brand mentions, however. There can also be quite a time lag between the mention and the reference to it appearing in your inbox. But it is free, of course.
There is a range of paid tools you can use for more detailed and comprehensive brand monitoring. These include:
- Digimind Social
We also now provide our own free brand monitoring tool to help you keep track of your online brand mentions.