Brand recognition has a lot to do with the success of companies like Coca-Coca and Nike. Other companies offer similar products but people trust names they recognise. Names are important. Domain names can help or hinder a company. Your online footprint can make or break you. Your website, blog, social media account, lifestyle business, or startup can live or die by how it is marketed.
Branding is one of the most important aspects of your business.
Branding doesn't stop at naming your company. Companies must continue to build their reputation and name recognition along with it. I'll talk about which products help you listen for comments about your business on the Internet, and how to get maximum marketing value from the mentions.
Google and Branding
Google’s search algorithm focuses on brands. In fact, I believe that one day the only sites ranking on Google will be big name brands. Gone will be the days of niche sites and the small guy taking on the giants brands. But for now, the small players can still rank well in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Producing great content and getting high-quality backlinks are the cornerstones of building your brand and ranking high on Google.
Making sure you benefit from every mention of your brand, website, or target topic on the Internet can be difficult and time-consuming. Discovering who's talking about your business can eat up resources. But you don't have to hope for luck to put the occasional mention on your radar. Clever people have built tools to make sure you never miss a mention.
Why Monitor Brand Mentions on the Internet?
Listening to who's talking about you online is not an ego-boosting exercise. To know who is talking about your brand or your target topics gives you marketing power. If you can track your brand’s reach on the Internet you can discover opportunities for relationship building, cooperation, and link building.
What to look for when tracking brand mentions:
- Check for a link back to your domain. If you find a link and it’s a Nofollow, decide if it’s worth contacting the site owner to request a Follow link instead. Unlinked ‘brand mentions' are an opportunity to gain backlinks and boost your website's SEO
- If the case of a social mention, examine the tweeter's role as an influencer. Decide whether to cultivate a relationship with this person
- Web chatter about your competitors. Create a strategy for getting involved in the discussion. Spy on your competitors and try to steal your competitor's thunder by creating a more compelling reason for the influencer to mention your brand instead.
Software Tools for Tracking Web and Social Mentions
Here are the top brand tracking and social media monitoring tools available to help scale your online marketing. Find out who's talking about you!
Brand24 sports a beautiful and modern interface (always a huge plus for me) on which I congratulate the UX designers.
To get started, set up a project. This can be your website, brand, or campaign you want to monitor. Add your keywords, domain, URLs, or anything else that you want to track.
Brand24 features some sophisticated levels of granularity for filtering mentions.
Filter results by
- Sentiment – A positive or negative sentiment slider makes it easy to find fans and haters
- Influencer Score – Every source is rated by brand24. Use the filter to find only highly-influential tweeters and bloggers
- Interactions – Engagement is very important in the over-saturated social space. Anyone can post on social 15 times a day but getting people to comment, like, and share your posts is another thing. Filter out accounts with low engagement and target the people that get shares and likes
- Number of visits – If you want to find out which sites with more than 1000 visitors a day have mentioned your brand, you can do so with the Filter By Number Of Visits filter
- Domain – Interested in finding out just how much a particular website loves your brand? Show only results from a single domain with the Domain filter
- Author – Exclude all mentions except for the author you’re most interested in
- Groups – Brand24 has a Group feature where you can put similar topics together
- Mark – Mark each mention you are interested in and filter out the rest with this option
- Order – Sort by mentions Recently Created and mentions Recently Found by Brand24
- Date – Display mentions based on dates you specify
- Visited – If you’ve checked out a mention that counts as a Visited result. Filter by Visited or Not Visited.
Zeroing in on valuable mentions is easy with Brand24's powerful targeting options.
The analysis tab is another powerful tool that helps you understand who the most influential people that have mentioned you brand are and on which social channels they live. Sort by the most interactive mentions or the most popular authors. View the total social media shares count, the likes count, and the negative mentions for the keyword.
Brand24 is one of the most expensive tools in this review but it’s also one of the most versatile. A powerful brand tracker and social media analysis tool. I can’t think of anything it hasn’t covered.
Awario delivers an impressive amount of results for each query. In fact, it beat most of the other tools apart from Talkwalker. But the quality of results far surpassed that of Talkwalker.
I wasn't initially enthused about User Interface but it's fast and uncluttered. It grew on me and now I'm quite happy to use it regularly. Awario does a great job of snooping the internet for social comments and references. You can set up tracking in most languages, create alerts, and monitor mentions of Brands, Personas, Campaigns, or Topics.
The Alerts Statistics section where mentions and reach over time display on a graph is useful for plotting campaigns. Awario displays the share counts below the graph so you can see how each social network and the Web are contributing to your brand's marketing efforts.
It would be nice to see some integrations for social posting or for saving tweets to Google sheets, for example. That's in the pipeline. Right now though, Awario is a solid contender.
Talkwalker is a free tool which scours News, discussions, and blogs for keywords. The tool can track up to 50 alerts per account and there’s no reason you can’t use a different email address to create another 50 alerts. It’s not quite a powerful as some of the other keyword monitoring tools but it's possible to get good results by tweaking.
The app claims to be the best free alternative to Google Alerts, and it works in a similar fashion to Google’s service.
You can create customised alerts with the following modifiers:
Alert types: News, Blogs, Discussions, or Everything (the first three combined).
Language: Search in other languages for your terms.
How often: As it happens, once and day, and once a week.
How many: Only the best results, all results.
Be careful with the last two as popular keywords can trigger alerts that will flood your Inbox all day.
The first thing you will notice about Talkwalker is the sheer number of alerts. It beats Google alerts and most of the other services on quantity. The sources, however, may not be high quality. Expect alerts from low-quality spammy sites and random unrelated sources. The algorithm needs tone improved before Talkwalker can take the fire away from Google alerts.
You can look at Google’s results in one of two ways
1. Alerts only from the highest quality sources to give maximum benefit to the user
2. Alerts focused on News sites and established brands with maximum benefit gained by established brands.
Not everyone wants to receive alerts when CNN and The Huffington Post publish content. Sometimes the most interesting mentions are on smaller sites. Google ignores these in general. Talkwalker, in contrast, will pick up on these smaller niche blogs but the quality filter isn’t perfected yet.
Here's how to set up Google Alerts:
Head over to google.com/alerts
Enter your keyphrase. Use search operators such as quotation marks, AND, OR, and NOT to be more specific with your searches. Social media symbols such as @ and # work too. Using @fatfrogmediacom would create an alert for the Fat Frog Media Twitter account.
I'd recommend using the At Most Once A Day frequency option unless you like your Inbox crammed full of alerts. If you're interested in hearing about mentions of forums or news sites then select your preference the Sources pull down menu. For most people, the default of Automatic will be fine. You can select language and region to further hone the results.
For popular topics, I'd suggest leaving the How Many selector set to Only The Best Results. Brands or topics that don't get a lot of mentions could benefit more from the All Results selection. Then choose where to receive the alerts
Quora is a great place to build your brands profile and answer questions on your favourite topics. I use Google alerts to trigger mentions of my target brand mentions and topic mentions. Enter site:quora.com “brand or topic” into the alert box and wait to be first in the queue to answer questions.
SEMrush is one of the most trusted SEO tools in the search marketing world. And it’s not without merit. SEMrush offers a solid keyword research tool, a backlink checker, a domain analytics service, and other tools for SEOs and marketers. It's one of my favourite SEO tools.
SEMrush recently added a Brand Monitoring feature. It's still in Beta but does a great job in tests.
The Statistics tab contains a Mention Volume Trend graph which shows the volume of mentions by date. Check your social media or outreach campaigns against the dates to understand which campaigns are working.
The brand monitoring tool is a useful addition to SEMrush and with the Pro version, you can create up to five projects. Each project can monitor 10 keywords based on your brand. The free version of SEMrush gives you three Brand Monitoring campaigns so I’d recommend getting an account and testing out the brand analysis tools.
Anewstip’s focus is on connecting entrepreneurs and marketers with influencers (journalists, newspapers, and publications). The interface makes it easy to find and pitch journalists who might be interested in covering your story. If you’ve got a new startup, app, or business that has something newsworthy to tell the world, find the right people to promote your content to using Anewstip’s search.
You can search for tweets, news articles, journalist profiles, or outlet profiles. Whenever you find a relevant contact that you’d like to contact, add them to a Media List for later.
Once you’ve added enough journalists and outlets to your Media List, click the Pitch menu. The Pitch section is where you compose emails aimed at promoting your idea or content to journalists and outlets. To send an email to the contacts from your media list click the TO field of the email composer and add the desired list. You can add merge fields for each contact’s first and last names which change for each copy of the email sent.
My gripe with Anewstip was the quality of the results. Compared to Buzzsumo, for example, the results for news articles are often outdated, which hardly makes them News.
Ahrefs New Alert service supplements its excellent backlink checker and keyword tool.
There are three types of alerts that you can create:
- Backlinks, which triggers an alert every time a domain on your list gains or loses a backlink
- New Keywords, which notifies you when an URL ranks for a keyword
- Mentions, which alerts you by email when a mention of your keywords pop up on the internet. This is the one we're most interested in here.
You can specify that the alert appears in the Title or Content giving you greater control over the amount and quality of mentions. Choose between most of the world’s main languages as the content language. Enter blocked domains such as Google.com (to prevent SERP results from triggering alerts). Add up to 3 email address to receive alerts.
Choose between most of the world’s main languages as the content language. Enter blocked domains such as Google.com (to prevent SERP results from triggering alerts). Add up to 3 email address to receive alerts.
Add up to 3 email address to receive alerts.
You can even choose the interval of notification. Real-time means that an alert will trigger the instant Ahrefs finds a mention. Daily and Weekly might be more manageable for less time-sensitive news monitoring and brand tracking. Ahrefs constantly adds new features to its already impressive range of SEO and marketing tools. It's not cheap, by any means, but if you have the budget Ahrefs will deliver to you quality results.
If you’d prefer to follow a more DIY or hacked-together approach to social monitoring then the Applets over at IFTTT could be what you need. Applets are a way of linking services you already use to create a new service customised for your needs. An example Applet is the “If someone mentions you on Twitter, get an IF notification”. The notification goes to an Android device. Another Applets records social media mentions on a Google spreadsheet. Another alerts you by email whenever your site's name appears on Reddit. IFTTT is free so it’s a great addition to the other services or a good way to get started on zero budget.
Marketed as social media management software, Sendible boasts a neat feature called the Social Media Listening and Monitoring Tool.
Sendible offers a free trial and it’s worth checking out the social media tools as they compete with the big players, Buffer and Hootsuite.
Pick a high-level keyword like ‘travel' to use as an alert trigger and you can expect to receive hundreds of results (thankfully, all in one email) on the topic. Sendible doesn't filter out foreign language posts or tweets. So you might get emails in Russian or Chinese if your English language keyword is in the text somewhere. In testing, I also noticed that alerts trigger for images on blogs containing the target keyword. Using long tail keywords will help here but I feel that Sendible has a way to go before the results are effective.
Alerts can be daily, weekly, or monthly, and you can filter by positive or negative sentiments if you prefer. Negative reviews are often the most useful to marketers as people are honest when complaining. Understanding your brand's weaknesses can help improve your service. You can turn a negative review into a positive one and even get some PR in the process if you handle it right.
I find the interface a little clunky but if you can put up with that you’ll find the tools to be comprehensive.
To access the Review Sites monitoring tool you'll have to buy an upgrade but I don’t think it’s worth the extra money. I prefer to use a service like Repuso or Free Review Monitoring for these tasks. Repuso also offers an excellent tool for integrating reviews with your website.
Sendible is a great social media management tool. The alerts service needs to improve before Sendible becomes a contender in the brand monitoring space.
Most Internet marketers will have heard of Buzzsumo, Noah Kagan’s content discovery software that has rocketed in popularity since it’s inception several years ago. The premise is simple; Buzzsumo allows you to find the most shareable content based on your keywords.
In the Most Shared tab, enter keywords or brand names into the search box. BuzzSumo shows you the most shared content based on your preferences (date, language, word count, country, etc). The number of shares per social network displays on each row of results. Click the View Sharers button to see who shared the content. Great for outreach. You can even view backlinks to the content.
To monitor mentions of the keywords or brand click the +Create Alert button after the search box. Anytime Buzzsumo finds a mention or share of your brand name in any content published you get an alert.
Buzzsumo is great for finding unlinked brand mentions and for understanding the viral potential of a post or link.
And lastly, I have to mention Mention (see what I did there?) as a solid option. Mention does social media, brand, and web monitoring and has been around for quite a while so they know what they’re doing. A powerful tool and one that has improved a lot since I last reviewed it.
I like to use the Feed filters to exclude tweets so I can get a better view of where a keyword pops up on the web. Mention pulls in data from YouTube, Forums, RSS feeds, images, Facebook and other sources. You can filter each of these sources to your preferences.
Add your Instagram account and track Instagram influencers. Filter by location, language, or sentiment. Mention's sophisticated reports (one of the app's best features) offer easy to understand insights into your Instagram account's power.
Click on the Influencers menu to get a list of influential people that have interacted with your brand or content.
Mention's Insight Center is a powerful way of visualizing statistics in different ways. Choose from Pie Chars, Bar Graphs, World Maps, and filter by sentiment, reach, languages, and more. Mention offers a 14-day free trial to get you started.
In case you can’t tell, this tool monitors brand mentions. It works like this:
Someone shares a post, a tweet or writes anything about your business on the Internet. BrandMentions emails you and provides a link to the mention.
The search box on the main screen can also be used to check for mentions immediately, saving you the trouble of waiting for an email alert. BrandMentions allows you to create lots of keyword phrases related to your brand, your competitor’s brands and your key topics. It’s great for tracking how your content marketing is going, but also for social sharing, keyword research, and link building.
I recommend you to use long tail keywords rather than generic terms when creating alerts. Terms such as “blogging” or “marketing” will return a lot of results, many of which might not be specific enough to your market.
The app is still in Alpha stage, but it works well. Get on board before they charge for the service.
Update January 2018: BrandMentions is now a paid service starting at $49/month
Keith is the founder of Fat Frog Media. He has worked in the tech, fitness, food, and hospitality industries. Keith helps businesses improve their marketing and conversion rates.