Ok, it’s go time: all that late-night paranoia wondering who’s talking about you behind your back is about to pay off. That’s basically what brand monitoring is—keeping track of what the world has to say about you. Well, sometimes it’s behind your back. Sometimes it’s in front of your face, and you’re tagged in it. Sometimes your name is grossly misspelled, and you have to do some hardcore reverse-spelling to dig it up. But brand monitoring is essential for staying engaged and relevant online—and admit it, you want to know.
Luckily for anyone interested in brand monitoring, it’s never been easier to observe, analyze and optimize the conversation around your brand. And with these tips and tools, you’ll know exactly how to apply your findings to your social media marketing strategies and keep your brand reputation safe.
Bonus: Download a free guide to learn how to use social media listening to boost sales and conversions today. No tricks or boring tips—just simple, easy-to-follow instructions that really work.
What is brand monitoring?
Brand monitoring is the process of looking following mentions and discussions of your brand. That goes for all forms of media: from Twitter to TV spots to sassy bumper stickers.
In other words, brand monitoring is a holistic look at what is being said out there in the world about you, but also about your industry and your competition.
Brand monitoring vs. social media monitoring
Social media monitoring is part of brand monitoring—but it only focuses on social media coverage relevant to your brand.
That could include monitoring for brand or product mentions (tagged or not), related hashtags and keywords, or industry trends on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Linkedin, etc.
Just look at all these people talking about Cheetos. Though none of them tagged @CheetosCanada or @ChesterCheetah on Twitter (yes, Chester has his own social presence, as he should), it seems like everyone and their dog is buzzing about the brand.
…which brings us to social listening. Once you actually have all that juicy data from your social media monitoring, you’ll move on to actually thinking about what all those mentions mean. If you want a full breakdown of social listening, what it is, and how to get started for free in 3 steps, watch this video:
TLDR? Social listening is the practice of analyzing the intel you get from social media monitoring.
Someone has mentioned a person or brand on social media. It could be a positive (“@SimonsSoups are delicious!”) or negative comment (“I wouldn’t feed @SimonsSoups to my bird!”), or somewhere in between. (“@SimonsSoups are wet.”)
Set up a stream on your Hootsuite dashboard to track those juicy name drops. You don’t want to miss a chance to respond or repost… or retaliate, I guess, if you’re feeling feisty. (e.g.: “Birds actually happen to LOVE our soup.” Send Tweet.)
Why is brand monitoring important?
If you are a monk or Tilda Swinton, you might have achieved a level of enlightenment that means you don’t care what other people think of you. But for most brands, reputation and public perception matter.
Maintain your reputation
Brand monitoring keeps you in the know and ready to pounce on problems (or boost praise!) After all, if someone tweets a compliment but you don’t notice, did it even really happen?
By keeping an eye on the conversation, you can react without delay. Take a cue from the official Duolingo account, which hastily responded to a history joke in a perfectly snarky, equally historically inaccurate fashion.
You don’t just want to know if people are talking about you: you want to know how they’re talking about you. Brand monitoring allows you to take the pulse to see how customers are feeling and assess the social sentiment.
While you, unfortunately, can’t send a middle-school-style note that says “If you like me circle one, yes/no/maybe,” this may be the next best thing.
PS: In your sentiment analysis, watch for sudden dives or peaks, and make sure you figure out the source of them. If something you’ve posted has resulted in a sudden dive in brand sentiment, you may have a PR crisis on your hands, in which case our guide to managing a social media crisis may be worth a read.
Engage with your customers
Monitoring can be a valuable addition to your social customer service strategy, When you’re brand monitoring, you’re watching for more than just tagged social mentions. You also want to spot those under-the-radar comments and respond—like Vitamix does.
Brands sharing this content can lead to views and likes and business, for sure, but they can also lead to lasting relationships with creators—Windows’ quick response to their logo redesign and continuing to interact with Zugay’s content has led to valuable collaboration.
Don’t just mind your own business—mind other people’s business too! Peeping on your competition to see what they’re doing right, and wrong, is part of holistic brand monitoring. You can use this info to conduct a competitive analysis.
The lessons from their victories or successes can be yours, too. As the old proverb goes: Keep your friends close and your competition on your Hootsuite dashboard.
Keep an eye on old content
The internet is a fast-moving place, so often content will go viral within a few days (or even hours) of posting—but sometimes, posts that are months or even years old will suddenly take over the internet. For example, Britney Spears’ 2007 song “Gimme More” was trending on Tiktok in 2022. Brand monitoring ensures you’re keeping track of all of your posts, not just the recent ones, and if something older happens to go viral, you can capitalize on it.
Reduce response time (and your workload)
Manage all your messages stress-free with easy routing, saved replies, and friendly chatbots. Try Hootsuite’s Inbox today.
You’ve got your eagle eye on all of the key channels — print and digital publications, social media platforms, broadcast media, online forums and review sites.
But what are you looking for, exactly?
Mentions of your brand, products, and services
This is the most obvious and most important element to keep watch for: direct mentions and tags of your brand name or products. Are people talking about you? What are they saying? Did they mention you? The same goes for your competition—watch the kinds of conversations developing around brands like yours.
Keep watch for posts or content that use your brand name (plus variations or misspellings!) outside of a direct tag. Hashtags or marketing slogans can be on this search list, too.
Harry Styles’ team should keep an eye on “Harry Stiles,” for example.
Executives or other public-facing staffers might find themselves the centre of publicity at one point of another… and you’ll want to be ready.
When the founder of Oh She Glows posted an Instagram story sympathizing with a white supremacist-led protest, the internet lashed out. While this is an extreme example, all social media managers are better off keeping track of what their executive are saying online and how people are reacting to it. And, while you’ll never be able to turn back time and erase mistakes from the internet, you can get on the crisis management ASAP if you’re in the know.
Influencers and creator partnerships
Similar to the above, if your brand partners with creators in any capacity, you’ll want to keep an eye on them. Aligning yourself with an individual means you’re supporting what they do and say on- and offline, so you’ll want to be sure that creators are representing your brand in a positive way. Lots of celebs have lost influenced marketing deals after media controversy (for example, many brands rethought deals with Travis Scott after the Astroworld tragedy in 2021).
Peep your website’s analytics to track incoming links. These could lead you to a reference out there on the world wide web that you didn’t even know was there.
Industry insiders and lingo
No brand is an island (that’s how the saying goes, right?). Is there a crisis brewing that could spillover into your reputation? Can you piggyback off a trending topic?
The conversations in your industry may impact you too — positively or negatively! — so keep yourself in the loop about the bigger conversation.
For example, in 2022 dieticians were taking to TikTok asking folks not to diet. If you work in the industry and don’t stay up to date about the conversations around language, you risk posting content that’s out-of-touch at best and directly harmful, at worst.
5 brand monitoring tools for 2023
In ye olden days, brand monitors had to scour news sites and intercept every town crier to manually keep up with things. Thank goodness we live in ye current days, where a bevvy of digital brand monitoring tools are at our fingertips.
Hootsuite Streams allow track your brand mentions, keywords and hashtags on multiple platforms, all in one place. Streams shows you your own posts and the engagement you get, and you can set an automatic refresh interval so it’s always updated.
Hootsuite will also help you streamline the process of monitoring and answering DMs, comments, public posts, and mentions (and make sure that your team never accidentally leaves an important message on read, risking escalation into a public PR crisis).
With Hootsuite Inbox, you can effortlessly bridge the gap between brand monitoring, social media engagement and customer service — and manage all of your social media messages in one place. This includes:
Private messages and DMs
Public messages and posts on your profiles
Dark and organic comments
… and more.
The all-in-one agent workspace makes it easy to
Track the history of any individual’s interactions with your brand on social media (across your accounts and platforms), giving your team the context needed to personalize replies
Add notes to customers’ profiles (Inbox integrates with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics)
Handle messages as a team, with intuitive message queues, task assignments, statuses, and filters
Want even more of that hot goss? Hootsuite Insights provides data from 1.3 trillion social posts in real time. Save keywords and Boolean strings to discover trends and patterns, and visualize brand sentiment with word clouds and meters.
Pick your keywords and get email alerts whenever it’s used somewhere on the web. It’s like Google is your email pen pal… though one who’s a little surface-level: no analysis here! You don’t need any special access or linked social media for access to Google Alerts, so this is a good one to use for keeping track of your competitors.
SEMRush can analyze the keywords used by your competition, and generate different keyword combinations for best results. They’ll also do an SEO audit of your blog and monitor your performance on Google’s search engine.
Mentionlytics is a complete web and social media monitoring solution. Use it to discover everything that is being said about your brand online, as well as your competitors, or any keyword on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and all web sources (news, blogs, etc.).
Bonus: you can also view your Mentionlytics results in the Hootsuite dashboard.
Hootsuite makes it easy to monitor keywords and conversations related to your brand on social media, so you can focus on taking action on the insights available. Try it free today.