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All businesses from startups to million-dollar corporations can benefit from paying attention to how people talk about their brands on social media. In fact, getting people to talk about you online is one reason you engage in social media or content marketing at all. Today, we discuss what social mentions are and why tracking them can help you learn more about your target audience and brand perception.

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Image via Unsplash by @1eemingwell

What Are Social Mentions?

A social mention is any instance when someone uses a person’s or brand’s name online. This can include tagging a personal or company page, using a hashtag, or simply including the name in a text post or comment. Social mentions can be positive, negative, or neutral. No matter the connotation, each one is a chance to interact with your audience and shape your brand image.

You can follow these mentions through the process of social media monitoring or listening. Both methods work by using tools to monitor things said about your brand online. You may not receive direct notifications every time someone mentions your brand online unless they tag your profile name or handle in their content. For a text-only mention, you may never know about it unless you engage in some type of social listening strategy.

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Areas Affected by Social Mentions

Marketers can track social media content from multiple sources, beyond the traditional platforms of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Other places to look for social mentions include blogs, forums, wikis, message boards, and photo or video-sharing platforms. Watching content from these sources can help your business in areas such as:

Reputation Management

Building your online reputation is just one component of crafting a brand with its own unique voice. Monitoring that reputation online can tell you what people really think of your business. In this screen era of communication, many people don’t temper or hold back their opinions when they have something to say about people or companies online, whether the feedback is good or bad. Watching your social mentions can help you see where you fall in the court of public opinion and make adjustments as needed.

Competitor Monitoring

If people are talking about your business online, chances are they’re also talking about your competitors online. Watching what people say about the competition can be helpful. Are they responding to their customers? What are they saying? How do they engage? Is it working? You can learn a lot about what to do and what not to do by watching these interactions from the outside. If the audience asks questions and a competitor company isn’t engaging, you can insert yourself and offer your own products, services, or solutions without putting down the other company.

If you’re interested in learning more about the marketing of your competition, try our new Content Market Analysis tool to help improve your strategy and social mentions:

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Social Media Customer Services

Today, people may use social media as the first point of contact with companies instead of emailing, making a phone call, or visiting a store as they may have before the days of e-commerce businesses. Monitoring your social mentions can help you see if your brand has a reputation for excellent customer service. It also creates opportunities for you to provide help right through your online channels. Responding to customers on social media increases their chances of spending money with your company. Depending on the industry, it may even increase how much money they’re willing to spend on your products and services.

Other ways social customer service can help your business include:

  • Encouraging your audience to share their experiences within their network
  • Recommending your brand to others
  • Giving better scores on customer satisfaction surveys

Public Relations

Paying attention to your social mentions can help you identify public relations (PR) issues more quickly. Responding to social mentions may be enough to prevent a PR crisis simply because it creates a connection with an individual or subgroup of your audience members. It can make your brand appear caring, competent, and efficient. Paying attention to the conversations surrounding your social mentions and posting timely, thoughtful responses to both positive and negative feedback not only helps you handle PR issues, but may also attract beneficial media attention.

Product and Content Management

Looking at your social mentions can help you understand some of the most frequently asked questions people have about your products and services. It can also help you understand what people want more or less of in terms of the content you publish. Their feedback lets you know exactly which items you offer that apply to their needs. Understanding both areas can help improve your company offerings, including physical products, service packages, and content creation.

Do you need help to create a content strategy that meets the needs of all your social followers? Contact CopyPress to start a call with our team and determine how we can help you write everything from blogs to eBooks to keep your followers engaged.

Marketing

Interacting with customers on social media can help shape your brand voice and set a reputation for the company online. Some brands use a professional voice, while others explore humor or other tactics to craft their social presence. Perfecting your social marketing technique comes from understanding your audience and what they like to see from a brand. One way to do this is through social listening and tracking your mentions to see how customers speak to your company representatives.

For example, if a customer tweets at your brand with a genuine question, it might not be best to answer with a sarcastic comment. By misreading the audience, you could lose a customer or bring bad PR to the company. But answering with factual information or even links and references to answer the question may be most appropriate.

Customer Insights

Social mentions can tell you a lot about your customer base, like who they are as people, why they follow you, and what they want from your brand. People share on social media for a variety of reasons, including:

  • To define their self-image or group status
  • To bring value to others
  • To create and sustain relationships
  • To feel good about themselves
  • To support issues that matter
  • To learn what’s popular or trendy

For any of these reasons, or others, someone may feel the need to interact with your brand. Whether they share a product review or their experience with your company, these interactions can tell you things like:

  • The demographic information about your customers
  • The ways people use your products
  • Customer satisfaction with services, items, or the company culture
  • Changes people want to see from your organization
  • The locations where your audience spends time online

Why Should I Track Social Mentions?

When people talk about your brand online, they’re letting others, especially people in their network, know you exist. This audience holds the power to tell others how outstanding your company is or if it’s one to avoid. The better the buzz online, the more likely you may be to get more customers and see an increase in revenue. But you won’t know what people say about you, good or bad, if you’re not actively looking for and tracking your social mentions.

How Should I React to Social Mentions?

There are different methods you can use to handle reacting and responding to social mentions online, depending on their sentiments and connotations:

Positive

Positive social mentions are the most fun to receive. They can make you, as an employee or company leader, feel good, and it’s polite to thank people when you receive them. Think of positive social mentions like compliments you’d receive in real life. If someone tells you they like your outfit or new haircut, how do you respond? You probably say thank you and give them a little more information about where you shopped or your hairstylist.

You can use this same practice with your social mentions. Thank your audience for talking about you. You may respond to each individual mention or create a collective thank you post. You can also provide more information about the product, service, or promotion that prompted the positive mention. This method also works for people who share product photos or include mentions of your products in videos or blog posts. A simple “thanks for sharing” lets the person know you saw their mention and appreciate the free plug.

Negative

Negative social mentions are less fun compared to positive ones. Those that address a problem may be easy to fix. You can often offer a few solutions for the customer to try, refer them to the correct point of contact, or otherwise try to help solve the issue. For problems you can’t solve immediately, let the customer know you’re searching for answers and offer to transfer them to a direct message or another service option if necessary.

For opinion-based negative mentions, apologize for the situation. Even if your company isn’t at fault, the brand takes the responsibility for the issue. Acknowledge mistakes or oversights and try to move the conversation to a private forum. Some social mentions that come across as negative may just be feedback or suggestions. In these situations, thank people for their thoughts and then share their feedback with the right people or departments.

Neutral

Many of your social mentions may be neutral. This happens when people encounter your brand, products, or services out in the world while doing other things. For example, someone may share a picture of their office vending machine to their Instagram story and start a poll to get their followers to decide if they should buy Coke or Pepsi. This neutral mention would be an opportunity for the social teams of both brands to make cases for their product.

Other neutral mentions may come from writers mentioning your company, product, or service in a list roundup, article, blog, or video review. If this happens, you can share the article to your own feed or reply to acknowledge gratitude for the inclusion. These types of mentions allow you to capture new customers, show off your brand voice, or strengthen connections with your online communities. Neutral mentions can also give you information such as:

  • Demographics of your target audience
  • Consumer likes and dislikes
  • Competitor names
  • Product or service improvements
  • Product or service encounters

3 Ways To Track Your Social Mentions

Use these three methods to track your social mentions:

1. Create Hashtags

Create your own hashtags that customers can use to produce user-generated content. These may include contest entry posts or other collective initiatives on social media. Hashtags make it easier to find and track your social mentions, even if someone doesn’t mention your brand by name. Share your hashtags in your own posts, put them in your bio, or print and share them anywhere you distribute marketing materials.

2. Search Your Name

Search your brand name on each social media platform. This can help you spot anywhere it appears in posts or comments. Searches let you spot brand mentions not included in hashtags or with a direct link to your business account. This method may also show your own company posts, which you can ignore.

When using search features, put your brand name in quotation marks, like “CopyPress,” to get results for the exact wording, spelling, and capitalization. Use filters on each search to narrow down the results. You can use these same tricks to search for company mentions through search engines like Google and Bing.

3. Use Social Tools

Social monitoring tools exist to find your mentions online. Each one functions differently in how they use feeds, dashboards, and monitoring campaign creation. Some social tools are free, while other, more comprehensive ones include paid plans. Keep reading to find a list of helpful social monitoring and listening tools at the end of this article.

Best Practices for Responding to Social Mentions

Follow these best practices when responding to customers and clients that mention your brand on social media and elsewhere on the internet:

Be Quick

If you receive a brand mention from a public figure or news outlet, repost, like, share, or comment on the content to get it on your own feeds as soon as possible. This is a good rule to follow, whether the content is positive or negative. If it’s positive, it’s good for your brand image and can help you get exposure to a larger audience. If it’s negative, speed allows your PR team to make changes as soon as possible.

Responding to customer inquires and mentions quickly is also helpful. These “real-time” interactions with consumers may make them more satisfied with your company. The faster you respond to social mentions, the easier you can control the narrative of the interactions and shape public perceptions of the encounter.

Watch Your Tone

Whether you have one social media representative or 20, the entire social team should be able to adopt the same voice and tone in their written content and audience responses. One way to make this easier is to write guidelines and create a manual or reference guide your social teams can use when interacting with followers online.

Use clear and simple language that’s accessible to the widest audience. Typically, in most conversations, writing for a seventh or eighth-grade audience makes it easiest to understand for everyone. Be conscious of the visuals, GIFs, and emojis you use. Make sure they’re appropriate for your audience and they don’t have any inappropriate or unexpected secondary meanings.

Handle Criticism With Grace

View negative feedback and reviews as constructive criticism rather than as an attack, no matter how someone words the mention. While the internet population may benefit from etiquette and decorum classes, you as the brand representative should try to stay professional and calm. Address all mentions with a positive spin. Don’t delete audience messages with negative content, but respond to them constructively. This makes your brand appear courteous while still addressing customer issues.

Switch to DMs

Some problems are too large or sensitive to handle on a public social feed. Mentions that require an exchange of personal information, like a phone number or address, should move to direct messages (DMs). This helps protect customer privacy and sets the tone for a more professional conversation.

Another situation where you can move to DMs is if an argument gets out of control on your feed. Moving the conversation to a DM gets it out of the public eye. Any issues that you can’t resolve with just one or two simple comments or replies may also be worth taking off the feed. This can provide a record of the communication and cut off outside interference from other commenters.

Step Back

Some people use the internet for personal validation or to troll other people and get a response. Brands aren’t exempt from this kind of behavior. You may spot these types of mentions by their outlandish language or blatant attempts to bait your social team into an unprofessional response. Internet trolls like to cause trouble, so learn when to step back from a conversation or ignore it in the first place.

If you engage with someone who tries to make the situation worse when you’ve followed all the other tips, simply let it go. When the trolls see there’s no longer the opportunity for a fight, they may get bored and move on.

What Tools Can I Use To Track Social Mentions Effectively?

Use these tools to help track your social mentions online:

Brandwatch

Brandwatch includes a variety of social listening tools that can let you track mentions from around the internet, not just on social media. It can crawl over 95 million data sources to get you the information you need about the online perception of your company. Brandwatch integrates with Hootsuite to provide even more insights into your mentions and data. It even lets you save keywords to find patterns you may miss in basic social monitoring practices.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts lets you monitor the internet for any content you choose, in this case, social mentions. Add a keyword for your company name or another relevant brand term. You can choose how often to receive alerts, the languages, and regions from which they come, and which sources to track. These alerts come straight to your inbox.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is one of many social media scheduling and monitoring tools you can use to handle the bulk of your strategy issues. It includes a mention feed that lets you track alerts for your company in tags and content across traditional platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also post, repost, or comment on mentions right from within the dashboard.

Social Searcher

Social Searcher is a free tool that lets you monitor trending links from a variety of sites to see where your content appears. The filters let you choose the most relevant language for your results and link to posts that mention your content. Search the results by sentiments, users, mention types, and social network.

Talkwalker

Talkwalker allows you to search both hashtags and social mentions across channels. Filter the results by demographic, location, or sentiment to consider the emotions and opinions in the content surrounding your mention. This program also lets you identify hashtags that are most commonly used with your mentions or brand to help identify trends and plan marketing campaigns.

Creating a social media strategy is partly how you speak to your customers and partly how you get them to respond. Listening to your social mentions is just as important as getting your audience to read the content you put out. Ensuring they’re talking about your brand online is key to getting the most out of your social media marketing.

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