Finding out how people view your brand used to be an expensive, timely undertaking. Between surveys, phone calls, focus groups and questionnaires, you might get enough info to figure out what people truly think, assuming the public’s sentiment has not changed in the 3 months it took to collect the data.
But the world has changed. Information that you used to pay for is now shouted from everyone’s personal, social media mountain-top. If that information is negative, you might be tempted to dismiss it as uninformed, uneducated or unjustified…and maybe it is…but unfortunately that doesn’t matter. Perception, as they say, is reality. Even if it’s positive, you need to know exactly what was positive about your customer’s experience so you can make better business decisions.
This begs the question “How should I handle this feedback?” However, the objective of this article is to help you easily monitor those comments - good, bad or ugly. I will leave the responding question to someone trained in the arts of PR and customer service (here’s an in-depth post by Tara Horner that would be a good start).
So how can you monitor what people are saying about your brand online without spending a dime or hours of your day that you can’t spare?
Tip #1: Set up Google Alerts.
Google has a great service that searches web pages, newspaper articles, blogs and more, for any words or phrases that you plug in. You can set it to send you emails daily, weekly or as-it-happens with links to all your mentions. Start off by setting up a handful of alerts using your company name, brand name(s), and any close misspellings of each if they are particularly uncommon. If you can handle a daily email, I recommend it, otherwise set the notification to weekly. It won’t take you long to review each of the notification emails, and you’ll be sold on its value the first time you find an article about your company that you otherwise would have missed.
Tip #2: Use a social media monitoring platform. You don’t have time to continually monitor the social-sphere for mentions of your brand, so start using a program that can aggregate them for you. My preference is Hootsuite, but there are many other great options. Once you sign-up and enter in your social media accounts, you can create a personal “dashboard” that let’s you see who’s talking about your brand and in what platform. Even better, you can reply directly from Hootsuite, further saving you time. Try to check it once a day, right after your Google Alert email, so you can keep up on what’s being said. Your social media savvy customers appreciate being heard in a timely manner (within 24hrs MAXIMUM) and acknowledging their comments will go a long way in building their trust…and your brand!
Tip #3: Set up Mention. Mention is Google Alerts on steroids combined with a lesser version of Hootsuite. But, it is an option if you are the type of person that likes to consolidate, allowing you to access all of your web and social mentions in one location. With Mention, you can create alerts for your brand, your industry, your company, your name or your competitors and be informed in real-time about any mentions on the web and social web. What I like most about Mention is the ability to take it on the road with you. Via their mobile app, you can monitor and reply directly, so you don’t have to switch between programs to reply and constantly rely on an email alert while you’re on the go. So, if you’re the kind of person that is always on the run and prefers the mobile app experience to traditional email and are time strapped, this just may be the tool you are looking for.
You cannot go wrong with any of these three great tools to help monitor your brand online. Because options vary from basic to sophisticated so there is a right tool out their for you.
Remember, the key to any successful business is listening (or reading) to what your customers are saying. So, now that you are prepared with the right tools, go out their and monitor what people are saying about your brand.