Brand perception can make or break a small business brand. Learn how to track, monitor, and turn brand mentions into a revenue-driving machine.
In today’s fragmented media landscape, maintaining a consistent brand that connects authentically with its audience is not a simple task: With social media and review-obsessed consumers, brands are becoming more community-driven than ever.
In fact, a recent study states that social media is most likely to influence or change brand perception – as well as favorability – over other channels such as TV ads, press releases, search engines, and word-of-mouth.
As a small business owner, day-to-day operations can understandably overtake branding and marketing. Staying atop multiple digital channels and communities may be time-consuming, but you should not overlook the opportunities of monitoring and managing your brand.
Before we delve into the tactics of how and where to keep track of your brand mentions, let’s walk through the top three reasons why it’s worth the investment for small businesses.
1. A Favorable Brand Image Is a Competitive Advantage
Your brand consists of a variety of components (some of which you can control, while others are subject to your audience’s opinions): your visual and verbal branding, owned channels such as your website and social media, your product or service, and how your customers perceive your brand.
Prospective customers are more likely to select you when their experiences and reviews match positively to what you say about the quality of your offering.
2. When Things Go Awry, People Talk
There are 2.1 million negative brand mentions on social media every day. It’s likely that at some point, your business will receive a less-than-favorable mention.
Learning about negative experiences right when they occur helps you craft a response and track trends in feedback to better your business: Perhaps it was a problem with shipping? Or maybe you need to address quality issues with a new product to correct your course long before disaster strikes.
People tend to leave reviews or mention a brand if they are unhappy with it.
3. Great Brand, Greater Bottom Line
Tech giant IBM increased its revenue by 20% year-over-year by changing its brand perception with an updated communication program.
The same dynamics apply to small businesses alike: By taking charge of your brand mentions, you’re ultimately taking charge of your brand narrative.
A consistent brand representation is estimated to increase small business revenues by 23%. Read on to understand how to track your brand mentions to maintain a cohesive brand.
Is Your Website in Order?
Half of small businesses still lack a website today, yet it is a crucial (and relatively affordable) branding component for small businesses.
Source: ProfitPress; graphic by author
Think about your own consumer behavior. When you’re looking for a product or service, Googling will most likely lead you to check out a few different providers and their websites.
Building a website is quite simple; there are many low-cost to even free website builders that offer either pre-designed templates or blank slates for those with a knack for visual design.
Your domain name (i.e., your site address) is another important branding piece you should spend some time on. Investing in a domain name pays itself back quickly; if you compile it in a smart manner, your site will drive sales in no time.
Domain Name Tips
- Include keywords that are relevant to your business: e.g., “www-andyspartysupplies-com” is better for search engines than just “www-andys-com.” People should know what your business does just by the URL.
- Include location in your name: “bestplumbingwestchester-com”
- For branding purposes, always purchase a custom domain, as having your website provider’s address next to your brand looks unprofessional. Instead of “mariashairandmakeup-squarespace-com,” go for “mariashairandmakeup-com.”
You need to have a good website before you can think about tracking website mentions.
How to Track Website Mentions
If you already have a website or are close to launching one, it’s time to put some tracking in place.
By plugging in Google Analytics for website visitor data (it’s free), you can start tracking brand mentions through traffic sources. In essence, you’ll be able to see which other websites are sending traffic to yours by linking it to articles, blogs, pages, and so on.
In addition to analytics, you can also place a Google Alert on your brand; it will send you a notification whenever someone mentions your brand on the web. You can also monitor business-specific keywords and even competitors.
Google Alerts is completely free, so it does have its limitations. If your brand is popular or constantly in the public eye, you might want to invest in a paid media-monitoring solution that scours offline channels such as radio and TV, too.
About 77% of small businesses are active on social media – but are they active enough to satisfy their customer’s needs?
As you can see from the graph, 42% of social media users expect responses from businesses within 60 minutes.
On social media, this sense of urgency correlates with your brand perception. If you actively engage your audience and answer questions and reviews, your brand will benefit from it immensely.
Depending on your business, monitoring brand mentions on social media may well become the lifeline to your sales. Think about the service industry: A restaurant or a hairdresser is only as good as the reviews it receives on Yelp, Foursquare, or TripAdvisor, to name a few. You can easily claim your free business page on Yelp, so you’re always in the know when new reviews emerge.
Your business should be aware of online brand mentions.
Stay on Top of Brand Mentions on Social Media
At its simplest, following brand chatter on social is a matter of having devoted social media resources to manage those communities. Hiring a full-time employee makes sense if your brand makes or could potentially drive a significant number of sales from social media; fashion, accessories, home goods, or beauty are all industries where social plays a key role.
If you can’t hire a full-time person, consider getting a freelancer that does it part-time, or hire a social media agency.
Finally, if your business is booming and you know there are more brand mentions out there than what a person could manage organically, it’s time to scale the operations and invest in a paid social listening tool.