If your brand has any sort of presence online, you need to know how track social mentions.

Insights from social listening can inform every aspect of running your business, from public relations and customer service to product and marketing.

Let’s look at social mentions in detail to answer four basic questions:

  • What are social mentions?
  • Why should I track social mentions?
  • What tools can I use to track social mentions effectively?
  • What are some best practices for responding to social mentions?

By the end of this article you’ll feel more confident about how to identify the most important conversations about your brand on social media.

You’ll also learn how to harness these opportunities to build your brand and win more loyal customers.

Bonus: Read the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

What is a social mention?

Whenever someone name-drops a person or brand online, that’s a social mention.

It can be positive or negative. Every single one is an opportunity to engage with your audience and shape public perception of your brand.

There are four major aspects of business that can be enhanced by tracking your social mentions.

Social mentions and public relations

The sooner you can identify a potential PR crisis, the better. Responding to a social mention quickly can often be the single factor preventing a simple misunderstanding from snowballing into a PR disaster.

Southwest Airlines offers a powerful example of how social listening can be used to avert a PR crisis

In 2015, thousands of Southwest Airlines passengers around the world found themselves stranded when a technical glitch delayed over 800 flights. Naturally, travellers took to social media to voice their dissatisfaction.

Southwest’s social media team personally responded to every single post and tweet.

This approach worked well for Southwest. But before you start recruiting an army of social media experts on LinkedIn, remember: it’s a huge airline. Not every company has the means to employ 40 social media professionals to monitor social mentions 24/7—nor is it always necessary.

As long as you’re keeping tabs on the conversation and posting thoughtful responses quickly, you should be well-equipped to handle any issue before it becomes big news.

Social mentions and customer service

Increasingly, customers are using social media as the first point of contact for businesses.

This is great news for companies that monitor their social media mentions effectively. It provides more opportunities to reap the rewards of good service.

Responding to customers on social increases the likelihood that they’ll spend money on your products. It also increases how much they’re willing to spend, from anywhere between three to 20 percent.

Check out these stats from Twitter’s blog:

social mentions statistic from Twitter blog

Image via blog.twitter.com

When a customer receives a response from a brand, they’re also much more likely to:

  • Share that experience with their network
  • Recommend the brand
  • Be more generous with their scores on customer satisfaction surveys

social media mention stat from Twitter blog

Image via blog.twitter.com

@NikeSupport shows how to deliver effective customer support through social media.

Nike’s dedicated customer service feed offers 24-hour support. Their voice and tone is as cool and focused as anything you’d expect from the sportswear brand (in six languages!). They also consistently offer solutions and encouragement to their global customer base.

Learn how you can deliver more effective customer support through your social media channels.

Social mentions and product/content management

Keep track of common questions, concerns, and suggestions your customers raise with you on social media. Then use these insights to iterate on your product or inform your content strategy.

In my work managing social media for the medical education platform Osmosis, I often see requests from learners who want content on specific medical topics. These mentions help us decide what content to create and how to improve our product.

social mentions for product marketing

Social mentions and marketing

Everything you post on social is brand-building.

Just look at @Wendys or @MoonPie on Twitter. These companies have built incredibly strong identities (and huge followings) on Twitter based on witty banter with customers and other brands.

Wendy's customer engagement on Twitter

MoonPie customer interaction on Twitter

Surrealist Twitter humor is great, but it’s not the right brand voice for everyone. Make sure you’re communicating with your followers in a way that’s consistent with your brand identify. And don’t be afraid to have a little fun!

One way that every brand can capitalize on social mentions is by looking out for great interactions with customers. Repurpose these interactions into marketing content, like testimonials you can feature on your website.

Don’t underestimate the power of testimonials: one study at Northwestern University found that consumers are 270 percent more likely to purchase from a website displaying customer reviews.

How to track social media mentions

The best way to track mentions is by setting up a social listening stream. This will help you cut through the noise and zero in on the voices you want to hear.

You can track your social mentions on Twitter and Facebook using a Mentions stream on Hootsuite. Here’s how to set one up:

1. Navigate to the Dashboard, then click the network where you’d like to start tracking mentions.

2. Click + Add Stream and then select Mentions.

How to set up a listening stream in HootsuiteHow to set up a listening stream in Hootsuite

3. The Mentions stream should now appear as a column to the right of your scheduled tweets/posts

How to add a listening stream in Hootsuite

For more detailed information about how to set up streams in Hootsuite, check out this article in our Help Center.

Bonus: Read the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

Get the free guide right now!

4 of the best social mention tools

Here are some of the most effective tools you can use to simplify tracking social mentions.


Our social media monitoring platform comes with a built-in Mentions feature you can use to see who’s talking about your brand.

You can respond to these mentions in real-time without ever having to leave the platform. It’s a great way to stay organized and on top of things.

After you’ve linked your social media accounts to the Hootsuite platform, navigate to your social media streams. The Mentions column will list recent instances where your brand has popped up in conversation, beginning with the most recent comments.


Talkwalker social media monitoring tool in Hootsuite

Talkwalker allows you to easily search hashtags and social mentions of your brand across all social media channels. You can filter these search results by location, demographic, or sentiment.

You can also use Talkwalker to identify the hashtags that are most commonly used alongside mentions of your brand. This information can help you identify upcoming trends and plan relevant marketing campaigns that resonate with your followers.

Talkwalker is completely free to use, making it a good option if you’re on a strict budget or simply looking to test the waters with social mention tools. It’s also available as an app within Hootsuite.


Brandwatch is the crystal ball of social listening tools. Available as an app within Hootsuite, Brandwatch allows you to track keywords and mentions anywhere on the web (even outside social media).

This tool’s reach is impressive. Brandwatch crawls more than 95 million data sources across the internet to find the information you need. Once you’re set up, the platform can send you and your teammates email alerts so everyone’s kept up to date.

Hootsuite Insights by Brandwatch

Hootsuite Insights provides a deeper dive into your mentions data, giving you data from 1.3 trillion social posts in real time. Save keywords or Boolean strings to find meaningful trends and patterns you might miss with social monitoring. Filter your searches for specifics like dates, demographics, and geographies.

This way you can attain even deeper insights on the sentiment of your brand’s mentions from all over the world. You can even visualize sentiment around your brand in automatically-generated word clouds and meters.

Tips for responding to social mentions

Now that you’re fully equipped to start tracking mentions, here are some tips for handling them.

Every social mention presents a unique opportunity. Respond to as many as you can!

Respond quickly

If your brand is mentioned by a news outlet or public figure, repost that content on your own feeds as soon as possible while it’s still fresh.

Respond to customer queries as quickly as possible too. According to Salesforce, 64 percent of consumers expect to have real-time interactions with brands.

The faster you respond to a customer query or complaint, the easier it’ll be to keep that situation in your favor and win that customer’s loyalty.

Stay true to your brand’s voice and tone

Whoever is running your social media accounts should be well-versed in your brand’s voice and tone guidelines.

Use clear, simple language that’s accessible to everyone. An eighth-grader should be able to easily read your posts.

Try to keep your visual information PG-13 as well. Avoid emojis with suggestive meaning (more on that here). If you like spicing up your responses with GIFs, make sure they’re appropriate for your audience.

Finally, as a general rule, avoid straying into cringeworthy “brands saying bae” territory. Be professional, and play it cool. ????

Don’t get defensive

It’s important to take every recommendation as critique rather than criticism. Even an angry comment can help you gain a deeper understanding of your audience’s pain points.

Address every mention with a positive attitude.

Also, keep yourself accountable. Deleting messages and purposefully suppressing conversations is rarely a good look.

Know when to move a conversation to your DMs

If a situation involves someone’s personal information, suggest moving the conversation into direct messages.

Similarly, if a misunderstanding has the potential to spiral, it’s better to get that out of the public eye as quickly as possible (again, don’t delete anything).

Complex situations sometimes can’t be easily resolved with a quick tweet or reply. If a more nuanced response is necessary—or if someone has a lot of questions—then DMs, email, or another private form of communication might be more appropriate.

Know when to ignore or disengage

Did you know that, sometimes, people will try to engage with your brand on social media purely to cause trouble and make you look bad? Yes, I’m as shocked as you are!

Seriously, don’t feed the trolls.

If you can see a conversation isn’t heading anywhere productive, it’s often best to just move on. Eventually, the troll will get bored and crawl back into the hole from whence it came.

Seek out opportunities to shine

Tracking social mentions gives you plenty of opportunities to turn negatives into positives. When you address these situations publicly, it can make your brand look really good.

Slack responds to customer on Twitter

Similarly, if you’re searching a particular term on social and encounter a potential customer whose problems might be solved by your product or service, consider reaching out to them. This cold-pitch approach may help you identify new leads.

That said, proceed with caution. Sixty-four percent of consumers dislike when brands try to engage with them without being prompted. If you’re second-guessing yourself before you hit send, don’t do it!

Use Hootsuite to monitor the conversation around your brand on social, so you can identify actionable moments, build your brand, and grow your following. Try it free today.

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