When you click "post," "publish," "send," or "update," you're putting a little bit of your brand out into the world for your target audience to see. But do you know what they are saying about you on their social media channels or their websites?
Let's talk about brand monitoring.
Media monitoring is “the process of reading, watching or listening to the editorial content of media sources on a continuing basis, and then, identifying, saving and analyzing content that contains specific keywords or topics." In other words, media monitoring is simply paying attention to what the media (meaning bloggers and journalists) are saying about you and your industry.
Brand monitoring is similar, except you're not just reviewing media sources; you're looking for mentions of your brand anywhere, whether it might be a blog post, a review on a site like Yelp, someone's Instagram photo of your cool piece of marketing, or even a former customer referring your company to someone else online.
Some people refer to monitoring as "listening," and that's accurate. You're paying attention to what's being said in order to learn more about how your brand is perceived, and give you better insight into whether you're meeting your goals or if you're missing some opportunities.
This is a key step for your communications workflow, and building your listening skills can help you be not only a better marketer but a better friend. Monitoring helps you:
- Get to know your audience: Through brand monitoring, you’re better prepared to answer The Question: who is your audience? Seeing who is talking about both you and your industry will challenge your assumptions. You'll be able to identify your biggest fans (and those who are not fans), the most useful influencers with whom to connect, and your potential industry besties. Like all good conversations, this involves feelings. Seeing who is saying what about your company lets you gauge audience sentiments and receive critical feedback.
- Build your community: Get out there and get talking! Monitoring shows you opportunities to engage with your community that you might have missed, and helps you understand what they're looking for. Ultimately, your audience wants to feel acknowledged and understood, so you should put the time into doing just that.
- Curate content: Ever draw a blank when it comes to what to share with your audience? Brand monitoring allows you to stay on top of relevant and timely content to share on your social channels. Your newest blog post might seem like a total game-changer, but if you don't spend the time seeing what others in your industry are putting out there, you might not realize that your blog post is extremely similar to one of your key competitors'. Eek!
Okay, but how do you actually find what people are saying? Just be thankful you don’t have to pour over paper newspapers like in the olden days of PR. These tools and tips bring the latest headlines and media mentions straight to you:
- Who said what now?: Schedule time for yourself to check the notifications on all of your social channels. You can get these in your email, too, but we think it's better to open those channels and spend some time there each day to get into the habit. Respond to your audience’s comments in a timely way, and treat each one like a guest in your home; show that you care about them as much as they care about you!
- Search it out: Regularly use the search functions on each of your social channels to look up relevant keywords and the name of your company or organization. For example, Twitter has a powerful (and underused) search tool that can help you find users with whom to connect directly and Instagram's Explore tab can inspire you with new ideas for visuals while also showing you what your target customers like to post, so you can match their style. Book some time for yourself to explore and research so you can get to know your audience better.
- Did you see this?: Use Google Alerts to receive notifications of any new mention of your company or relevant industry keywords. You can set an alert for anything from the name of your company to the latest Beyonce news (hello, new Nala!). Think about the most relevant keywords for your company, whether it’s international development, holiday recipes, or solar power in the DC area.
- It’s all in the feed: Say hello to one of our favorite tools, Feedly! Feedly is an RSS-based news aggregator; you can organize and read new blog posts and news articles based on keywords, trusted sources, or curated channels, and you can integrate those Google Alerts too. The Pro version costs under $6 a month and lets you search, share, and save like a PR master. Follow this handy tutorial and tell us if you like it, because it really is one of our favorite things.
There are lots and lots and lots of monitoring tools out there, both paid and free, so do some experimenting. Let us know what your favorites are and we'll feature them in a future Slice!