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Strategy

Why Social Mentions Matter (And How to Track Them)

Find out what social mentions are, why they matter, and how to engage with them to build a strong relationship with your audience.

Christina Newberry, Sarah Israel May 9, 2024
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If people were talking about your brand on social media, you’d want to know about it, right? Well, guess what: It’s happening all the time, whether you’ve noticed or not. If you have any kind of social presence, your brand is probably receiving social mentions.

Read on to find out why social mentions are so important, how to track them, and how to respond to people talking about your brand.

Bonus: Take action on customer insights and drive impact for your organization with our complete guide to social listening using Hootsuite x Talkwalker.

What are social mentions?

Social mentions are social posts that include a reference to your brand. This includes posts where your brand is tagged (often referred to as @mentions) or simply mentioned by name in the caption.

Here’s an example of two Hootsuite mentions in some recent comments. One is tagged, and one is untagged:

Hootsuite reminder to schedule posts

Source: Hootsuite on Instagram

With @mentions, the social user is usually trying to get your brand’s attention. With untagged mentions, they are talking about your brand but not specifically drawing your attention to that fact.

Both kinds of social mentions can be either positive or negative (or even neutral).

You’ll find social mentions on every social media platform, including Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Read on to learn how to monitor, track, and respond to tags on every platform.

Why are social mentions so important?

Being mentioned on social media means that people are taking notice of your brand, which is great news for social media managers trying to get eyes on their products or services.

Keeping tabs on social mentions allows you to tap into ongoing conversations and see what people are saying about your brand. This is an easy way for you to understand the good, the bad, the ugly, and the fabulous in those conversations and learn about your customers.

5 reasons to monitor your social mentions

Social proof

Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon that says people tend to follow others’ actions or decisions when uncertain about what to do. These social mentions of your brand act as de facto reviews, so knowing what people say is critical.

Monitoring social mentions allows you to reshare positive mentions while building a library of user-generated content (UGC) that highlights the benefits of your brand in action.

Since 75% of users turn to social sites for brand research, this is an important way of showing potential customers that you live up to your brand promise.

Social customer service

Customers view social media as a quick way to get contact a brand’s customer service. When you monitor your mentions, you can meet them where they are.

Whether it’s a quick question or an emotional complaint, every service-oriented social mention of your brand provides an opportunity to show you care. Not only will that help satisfy the customer who mentioned your brand — it also shows other social users that you take requests seriously.

Crisis control

Social mentions are an early warning system for looming problems.

Mentions can alert you to an issue before it worsens into a crisis, allowing you to take steps to resolve the issue and communicate the fix. They can also help you understand what your target audience expects from you as you navigate troubled waters.

Understanding your audience

Social mentions are an incredibly valuable source of audience research. Who is mentioning you? What are they saying? Are they tagging friends to spread the message? All these data points can reveal valuable insights about your audience.

Social mentions help you understand everything from demographics to customer expectations. With this data in hand, you can create content, products, and services that resonate with your followers.

Humanizing your brand

Responding to social mentions allows you to engage in real conversations with fans and followers. You can show off your brand personality and make your brand feel warm and welcoming. It’s a good way to build a more intentional online presence and establish lasting follower relationships.

4 tools to track your social media mentions

Manually search social media mentions

Most social networks have a notification option to alert you when someone tags your brand on social media. In order to find social mentions this way, you’ll need to open each social media account and check your notifications or alerts. One. By. One.

Each network is a little different, but they almost all involve clicking your Notifications icon, then clicking a Mentions tab. Let’s use Instagram as an example.

From your main feed, click the heart icon in the top-left corner:

instagram heart icon

This will display all your notifications:

instagram all notifications display

Slide over to the right and select Tags & mentions to filter your notifications:

notifications tags and mentions in last 30 days

For social mentions that don’t tag your brand directly, you’ll need to use the social media platform’s search function to find relevant posts.

Remember to search for common misspellings, too. For example, Hootsuite could be misspelled Hoot Suite or Hootsweet. Search for each of these misspellings or any other ways people might refer to your brand to find your mentions.

Let’s look at LinkedIn as an example this time. Type your brand name (or misspelling) into the search bar, then click Posts to find your mentions.

search for LinkedIn posts with mention of Hootsuite

Track and respond to mentions using Hootsuite

Using software to monitor social media mentions saves a ton of time and makes sure you don’t miss anything, since you can check mentions for multiple accounts from one screen.

Hootsuite comes with a built-in social mention tool you can use to see who’s talking about your brand on these social media platforms:

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • X (formerly Twitter)
  • LinkedIn
  • Tiktok
  • YouTube

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.

Don’t have Hootsuite yet? Here, this should help:

Ready to go? Here’s how to monitor social mentions with Hootsuite:

Step 1: From the Hootsuite dashboard, click the Streams icon in the left menu, then click New Board.

Hootsuite Streams new board

Step 2: Under Board type, you’ll have a few options. Choose Follow personalized feeds.

Hootsuite Streams Follow personalized feeds

Step 3: From the dropdown box, choose one of the networks where you’d like to start tracking mentions. Then, select @Mentions from the stream options.

add a stream networks @ mentions

Step 4: Repeat for any other accounts you’d like to track.

Step 5: In the left menu, click on your new board to rename it Social Mentions.

social mentions option on my boards

You can also use keyword and hashtag streams in Hootsuite for social media mentions tracking when you are not directly tagged.

This is where software to track social media mentions really comes in handy, since you can set up multiple search and hashtag streams rather than having to conduct multiple searches using the native platform tools.

For more information, check out our post on how to set up social listening.

If you want to take this even further, you can tap into a super-powered social listening tool like Talkwalker.

Talkwalker graph owned versus earned and engagement

Source: Talkwalker

Social media pros use Talkwalker to monitor mentions and analyze engagement, reach, comments, brand sentiment, important influencers, conversation clusters, and much more.

Psst: Hootsuite is set to acquire Talkwalker VERY SOON. This means that you will get access to Talkwalker social listening and analytics directly in your Hootsuite dashboard!

Hootsuite Talkwalker logo

Set up Google alerts

1. Go to google.com/alerts

2. Type the keyword you’d like to monitor in the search bar. A preview will appear below to show the kind of results your alert will generate.

Google Alerts Hootsuite Search

3. Click Create Alert.

my alerts hootsuite

4. Click the cog on the left-hand side to change your notification settings and delivery time.

select delivery time and digest options

5. That’s it! Google will send you an email every time your keyword appears in Google’s search engine results.

Set up an RSS feed

A tool like RSS.app allows you to convert searches on some social networks into RSS feeds that you can then follow to keep an eye on your social mentions.

Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Head to the RSS.app feed generator.

Step 2: Scroll down to the social network for which you want to create an RSS feed. You can create search-based RSS feeds for most of the major social media networks, including Instagram, Tiktok, LinkedIn, and more.

We’ll use Instagram as an example here, so click on Instagram RSS Feed.

Instagram RSS feed option

Step 3: Head over to Instagram. Copy the URL for the page you want to monitor.

Step 4: Paste this URL into the feed creation box on RSS.app and click Generate. You’re almost done!

Instagram RSS feed search for Hootsuite Instagram URL

Step 5: The app will generate your RSS feed.

RSS feed generator link Hootsuite

Step 6: To track your feed, you’ll need to add it to an RSS reader. If you don’t already have a preferred one, Hootsuite has a free RSS syndicator app you can find in the Hootsuite App Directory.

Once you add it to your dashboard, you can monitor RSS feeds as Hootsuite streams.

add RSS syndicator app to Hootsuite Streams

Click here to learn more about the Hootsuite RSS Syndicator.

How to respond to social mentions: 7 best practices

1. Answer every mention

If someone takes the time to mention your brand on social media, it only makes sense for you to respond. According to Salesforce, 64% of consumers expect to have real-time interactions with brands.

If someone tags you on social, they usually expect a response. If someone mentions your brand without tagging you, responding provides an extra opportunity to impress them by showing that you’re really paying attention.

It doesn’t have to be complicated:hashtag info via Hootsuite with creator reply

Source: Hootsuite on Instagram

2. Share your learnings

You’ll learn a lot from monitoring your social media mentions. It’s important to share that knowledge with the relevant teams throughout the company. For example, if users are tagging you like crazy because they love a current marketing campaign and want to engage with the message, that’s gold for your marketing team.

Likewise, if customers are repeatedly tagging you because of a particular issue with your product, or a feature they wish you would make available, that’s critical intel for product development.

3. Thank the user for reaching out

If someone shares something positive about your brand on social, you’ll obviously want to thank them. They’re helping you reach a new audience of potential customers and vouching for how great you are as a brand.

But it’s also important to thank users for reaching out with queries and even complaints. Every negative mention is a chance to win back a frustrated customer and show others how classy and helpful you can be.

Make sure your thanks ring true rather than cheeky. You don’t need to thank someone for an insult, but you can always thank them for drawing a concern to your attention.

Tim Hortons reply about donut availability in stores

Source: Tim Hortons on Instagram

4. Reshare positive mentions

Resharing positive mentions is a great way to build up that social proof we talked about earlier. You can also use reshares to highlight aspects of your offering you might not highlight yourself.

For instance, St. Lawrence Market in Toronto reshared this piece of user-generated content that shows off the market’s many vendors. This was an easy way to show visitors what they could expect without incurring extra work for their social media manager.

St Lawrence Market promo via Canada Culinary Instagram account on stories

Source: @stlawrencemarket

Most social platforms make it easy to reshare content, especially when your account has been tagged. Instagram’s main feed also allows for collaborator tagging, so you can add posts created by other users to your feed.

One great way to literally highlight positive social mentions is to reshare Instagram stories that you’re tagged in, then add them to a Stories highlight so you can show them off for longer than 24 hours.

A highlight with lots of social media mentions indicates that you’re a well-loved brand on the platform and can inspire confidence in new followers.

5. Stay positive and provide solutions

It’s important to view less-than-glowing feedback as critique rather than criticism. Even an angry comment can help you gain a deeper understanding of your audience’s pain points. So, it’s important to address every mention with a positive attitude—even those with a negative approach.

When you get a negative comment, focus on providing solutions to make the user’s experience better next time. 85% of customers are likely to recommend your brand if they have a satisfactory interaction with you online.

6. Build trust by keeping yourself accountable

Deleting messages and purposefully suppressing conversations is rarely a good look. People will notice if you delete their negative comments and may call you out on it. This just starts a never-ending cycle of trying to keep negativity under control. Redirecting things in a more positive direction is far more helpful for all involved.

If the user is sharing a real problem or issue, invite them to contact you via DM or email to share more details and speak to a customer service rep, especially if a situation involves someone’s personal information. This will allow you to offer a more nuanced response and involve others as necessary.

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

7. Stay true to your brand’s voice and tone

The team member(s) responding to your social mentions should be experts in your brand’s voice and tone.

Your marketing and customer service styles should be well aligned, even if they’re not exactly the same. Use clear, simple language that’s accessible to everyone. An eighth-grader should be able to easily understand your replies. And if you like spicing up your responses with GIFs, make sure that they’re appropriate for all audiences.

Hootsuite makes it easy to monitor keywords and conversations on social media, so you can focus on taking action on the insights available. Try it free today.

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By Christina Newberry

Christina Newberry is an award-winning writer and editor whose greatest passions include food, travel, urban gardening, and the Oxford comma—not necessarily in that order.

By Sarah Israel

Sarah Israel is a Toronto-based content strategist and creator. When she’s not writing about emerging technologies, she’s hunting for treasures in dusty antique shops across Eastern Canada. See more of her work at sarahisrael.com.

Read more by Sarah Israel

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