A brief overview of social listening for small and personal brands: benefits, tools, and tips

Twitter stream

Photo credit: Brad P via photopin cc

Hello Cendrine,
I wanted to send a quick note to thank you for mentioning our company on your blog.
Much appreciated,
XXXX

When I received this email in my Inbox a long time ago, I remember experiencing a feeling of contentment. How could a company to which I had never talked before know about my writeup? “Wow,” I thought. “I must have done something right.”

As it turns out, they were doing what every brand should do on social media: They were monitoring conversations around their name.

For those who would not know what social media monitoring is, here is a short definition from TechTarget:

Social media listening, also known as social media monitoring, is the process of identifying and assessing what is being said about a company, individual, product or brand.

When people mention, it means that they are aware of your existence. However, more importantly, they find your content, work, product, or service worthy enough to vouch for it.

Tapping into that kind of engagement will allow you to:

  • Gain insight into your audience and serve them better.
  • Catch problems, complaints, and questions — and address them accordingly.
  • Continue the conversation, show people that you care, and humanize your brand in the process.
  • Turn your audience into community of advocates and/or customers.

Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of that?

Tools to monitor your presence on social media

The social media realm is a universe in itself. People posts millions of Tweets, Facebook updates, and blog posts every day. So, the prospect of having to monitor all that can be daunting. Trust me, I was there once. I know the feeling!

Thankfully, there are now many tools that scour the murky recesses of the Internet to find the information for you. My favorites are below:

  • Google Alerts – Receive email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries.
  • Topsy - This tool indexes and ranks search results based upon the most influential conversations millions of people are having every day about each specific term, topic, page or domain queried.
  • Social Mention – Social Mention monitors more than 100 social media properties (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) to allow you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you and your brand.
  • PinAlerts – Receive email notifications whenever someone pins something from your website.
  • Talkwalker Alerts - A Google Alerts alternative.
  • Mention.net
  • Twitter Search + TweetDeck (and/or HootSuite)
  • Google+

For more tools, check out Ken Burbary’s Wiki list.

Tips for thorough monitoring

A question people often ask me is: “How can I make sure I catch as many mentions as possible?” Here is a short list of tips I have used successfully over the years:

  • Do not just monitor your name or the name of your website. Include your domain name too (e.g. socialmediaslant.com).
  • If you have a unique or unusual name, chances are that people will misspell it. Take advantage of it! For domain names, Domain Name Typo Generator will give you great ideas on what to monitor. Keyword Typo Generator is a solid option for personal names.
  • Do you have a slogan? Keep an eye on engagement around it as well.
  • Do the same thing with the titles of your articles, videos, photos, infographics, and announcements.
  • Negative mentions matter! Try combining keywords like “brand name + fail / bad / negative / unhappy.” (See screenshot below)

British Airways fail

What tools do you use for social media monitoring? And what is your favorite tip for monitoring success?

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