Let’s face it, in some cases monitoring your brand online through systems such as Radian6 might not just be out of your budget, they can also be overkill if you’re a personal brand or a small business.
But don’t think for a moment that I’m about to craft a simple list of the usual free tools, if you have been reading this blog for a while you know that I usually emphasize in the importance of thinking as a serious entrepreneur and invest in your business, whatever that is.
So if we can’t spend $600/month and can’t rely on free shit if we pretend to be ass-kicking entrepreneurs, it’s pretty clear that we need to find a balance that we can afford and can give us the necessary data in order to manage our marketing strategies.
What’s Monitoring Anyways?
Monitoring your brand means being aware of who mentions your brand, what they say, where and when. What you are trying to accomplish is to get notified every time a mention of your brand happens online in different platforms such as search, social networks and other types of social sites and also blogs.
Your brand can be mentioned in different forms and by different people, from colleagues, competitors, bloggers and most importantly, clients or prospects.
Why You Need To Monitor Your Brand
The main reason to monitor your brand is so you can react to those mentions, hopefully in a timely manner. Sometimes you will see the opportunity to engage in a conversation. Remember, conversations happen even if Elvis isn’t in the building.
Being aware of brand mentions gives you a golden opportunity to connect to a person or a group, to provide value, or even handle a problem related to your product or service. This is called Front-End Interaction.
I can hear you asking yourself “why do I need to monitor my tiny brand? I’m sure I don’t get too many mentions”. But you might be wrong my friend, let me share with you that my humble SocialMouths, a super tiny brand has more than 3,000 mentions so far this month according to one of the tools I’ll talk about next. Don’t underestimate your brand!
What Else Should I Monitor?
Besides monitoring your brand, you can also monitor your competitors, your industry, or any key terms related to your niche. Think of traditional media, there is no way you could know what people are saying about your competitors based on a print campaign.
The Internet offers business and marketing information you never had access before. Leverage that. Monitoring the Internet will give you the information to make wise decisions.
Some Very Cool And Affordable Monitoring Tools
Admit it, this is the fun part. Let’s take a look at some tools to help you build a monitoring arsenal…
First let me say that blog mentions can be very important because they usually come with some backlink juice. As you know, inbound links to your site will help you rank better in Google. But besides that, it helps you build brand awareness and of course sometimes it can bring some traffic love your way.
The most common way of becoming aware of these kind of mentions is by setting up Google Alerts. This is as easy as going to Google Blogs, do a search for the name of your brand, site or blog and then setting up the email alerts at the bottom of the page.
You can repeat the process to set up alerts for as many search terms as you want, your competitors and other relevant industry keywords.
Another way of tracking Blog mentions is with tools such as IceRocket. In this case I like to perform my search and save it to RSS so I can get my alerts on Google Reader. I looks a little like this:
As you can in the image, the first result is really my own so I’ll ignore that one but then I see that “mbuddy” has been aggregating some of my posts, this also helps me see if they’re doing properly, you know, links and credits. Everything is fine btw.
Where you’ll see most of the action is in the social web and with this I mean Facebook, Twitter and other forms and shapes such as bookmarking and stuff like that.
One of the tools that everybody seems to like to pick up mentions is SocialMention. In my opinion, it does a pretty good job for a free tool but I like to be able to manipulate the data and visualize it in charts.
One of my favorite tools is UberVU and I use it not only to monitor SocialMouths but also some of my clients. For approximately $50/month you get a kick-ass dashboard that monitors and analyzes your mentions on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and others as well as the Blogosphere. So let me elaborate a little on this (no affiliate links).
First of all you get visibility of all mentions in these platforms through a “Stream”, you also get a pretty interactive chart that you can play with. Then you can filter into different kinds of media types and see for example only videos.
One of the things that is very important when tracking your mentions is managing your reputation through Sentiment Analysis but the trick here is that these platforms can decide if a mention is positive or negative based on the language used and, when someone calls you a “bad-ass”, that’s pretty damn positive to me. That’s why is key that whatever tool you use allows you to edit this kind of data based on your own criteria of what’s positive and what’s negative.
UberVU features much more than this, I’ll mention the last one because I think is key when you want to compare your brand to your competitors. This Share of Voice analysis puts your brand head-to-head with your competitors in each platform. In this case I’m not comparing to a direct competitor, which explains such domination on Twitter. The important thing here is that you can totally visualize where your competitor is stronger than your brand.
Let’s move on to a different tool, in this case we’ll look into how people share your content, that is of course if you blog. For this we’ll use PostRank, which gives you a very cool analysis of how people engages with your content inside and out your blog.
But we’re talking about monitoring your brand so we’ll go straight to how your content is shared across the social web, in what platforms and who is sharing. What I love about PostRank is how you’re able to analyze an individual piece of content, for example a blog post.
In this image you can see how PostRank is showing me how many Tweets, Diggs, Facebook Shares, Delicious Bookmarks and other shares the post “10 Reasons Your Facebook Page Is Not Taking Off” has been getting so far. For example, not only I can see that that I got 54 Delicious Bookmarks but I can actually go to the site and look at who bookmarked.
PostRank obviously does much more than that and like I said before, it is really intended to measure blog engagement but that’s a whole different post. The best thing is that you can get all this awesome sauce for $9/month.
Yes, mentions happen also in comments and I’m not talking about the comments in your blog but the ones that happen outside on other blogs or on social sites like Digg or Reddit. The service to use is Backtype, where you can create all kinds of searches, save them or set up alerts. Again, you can monitor your brand, your competitors or any industry related terms you wish to be aware of.
Pretty simple but at the same time, this is one that is pretty easy to miss. Leverage the opportunity to engage in these conversations.
In this image, we see a couple of mentions happening on one of Kikolani’s Fetching Friday posts and also one on Reddit.
Backtype is free by the way.
The Invisible Mentions
Don’t think that you have it all figured out, there are mentions that don’t carry your brand. The bright side is that some of this tools will help you get visibility of them. Look at the following image, do you see any mention of SocialMouths? Ok, this one at least has the headline of the post.
Even if your brand wasn’t mentioned, that’s still exposure and you do want to be aware of it. Don’t you?
Monitoring your brand properly is not that complicated and it’s not that expensive but it can give you awareness, and awareness my friends gives you control over your brand and its reputation.
This is step one of social media marketing and the objective is to put you in the driver seat, now you can identify relevant conversations and engage. Believe me when I say you don’t know who’s on the other side of the screen and very well might be a prospect waiting to become your client.
Now It’s Your Turn
Let me now hand it to you, where else can your brand be mentioned? what is your monitoring strategy or what tools do you use to be aware?
I know you have your tips and tricks, share with us. Or simply ask any questions. Thanks for reading.