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Brand Monitoring: Tools and Strategic Tips for 2024

It’s super easy to observe, analyze and optimize the conversation around your brand—aka “brand monitoring”—especially with these tools.

Alyssa Hirose, Stacey McLachlan April 25, 2023
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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: Discover the best way to gather insights and intel from your audience, competitors, industry, and favorite aspirational brands in our complete guide to advanced social listening.

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.

Cheetos mentions on Twitter

Source: Twitter

Hopefully, Cheetos is watching for untagged brand name mentions, or they could miss all this affirming and adorable chatter.

Social media monitoring also includes watching for conversations about your competitors… any conversations that are relevant to your business, really.

Social media monitoring is a chance to track valuable social metrics and measure brand awareness. This info is super helpful to track ROI or test social marketing campaigns, but you can also use this key data to pinpoint trends and insights.

Brand monitoring vs. social listening

…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.

What’s the overall online mood? How are people feeling about you?

For example, on Instagram, there are millions of people posting about pugs… but do the majority of them actually like pugs? Further digging (canine-related pun intended) reveals: yes.

Instagram profile dedicated to pugs

Source: Instagram

Once you know how people are feeling, you can develop an action plan. “Social strategizing” might be a better way to think of it: now that you know what you know, what are you going to do about it?

Brand monitoring vs. social mentions

A social mention is, essentially, a name drop.

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.

Duolingo responding to a Tweet with a meme

Source: Twitter

Analyze customer sentiment

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.

Vitamix responding to customer Tweet

Source: Twitter

Add a search stream for your brand name or hashtags on your Hootsuite dashboard so you don’t miss a single conversation about yourself.

Source fresh content

Did someone write a blog post about you, or post an Instagram Story about how they wish they could get married to your brand?

Assuming it’s positive, now you’ve got new content to share on your stream. All you had to do was watch and wait.

In fact, the content doesn’t even have to be “good”—TikTokker Emily Zugay has gone viral for her hilariously bad redesigns of corporate logos.

@emilyzugaySome honorable mentions♬ So your an artist – Tej Patel

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.

@emilyzugay Thank you for the Twitter welcome @windows ♬ original sound – Mayruh🦭🚨

Watch your competitors

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)

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What should you monitor?

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.

Critical keywords

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.

Tweet about Harry Style's Coachella performance

Source: Twitter

C-suite shout-outs

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).

Inbound links

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 2024

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.

1. Hootsuite

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
  • Mentions
  • Emoji reactions

… 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
  • Track response times and CSAT metrics
A full screen view of the Hootsuite Inbox agent workspace for social media managers and social customer service agents.

Book a free demo

Plus, Inbox comes with handy automations:

  • Automated message routing
  • Auto-responses and saved replies
  • Automatically triggered customer satisfaction surveys
  • AI-powered chatbot features

2. Talkwalker

Talkwalker reach engagement and share of competitors over time

Source: Talkwalker

Talkwalker’s social data library includes more than 150 million sources. With more than 50 advanced filters, you can segment your social data and identify the right audience to monitor.

This powerful social listening tool allows you to understand the full impact of your online conversations by measuring engagement volume, reach, sentiment, and more. It incorporates Blue Silk GPT for AI analysis.

Psst: Hootsuite is set to acquire Talkwalker VERY SOON. This means that you’ll be able to dig even deeper into brand mentions and customer intelligence, with Talkwalker’s AI-powered tools right in your Hootsuite dashboard!

3. Google Alerts

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.

Setting up a keyword alert in Google Alerts

Source: Google Alerts

4. SEMRush

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.

5. Mentionlytics

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.

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By Alyssa Hirose

Alyssa Hirose is a magazine editor, playwright, comedian and comic artist based in Vancouver, B.C. She attributes her great sense of humour to 9 years of braces and good ol' elementary school bullying (unrelated, unfortunately).

Read more by Alyssa Hirose
By Stacey McLachlan

Stacey McLachlan is an award-winning writer and editor from Vancouver with more than a decade of experience working for print and digital publications.

She is editor-at-large for Western Living and Vancouver Magazine, author of the National Magazine Award-nominated 'City Informer' column, and a regular contributor to Dwell. Her previous work covers a wide range of topics, from SEO-focused thought-leadership to profiles of mushroom foragers, but her specialties include design, people, social media strategy, and humor.

You can usually find her at the beach, or cleaning sand out of her bag.

Read more by Stacey McLachlan

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