There are tons of valuable stories in the data about your brand. Stories that can inform you about how your brand is perceived by the public. Stories about what your potential customers really need. Stories about how your competitors connect with the marketplace.
No matter how big or how small your business is, there are data sets that you should be tracking on a regular basis. This article will highlight what your business should be tracking, and how that information can be tracked.
Brand awareness is simply an indication of how well known your business is in your industry and in the general public. Tracking this important information can be tricky and is often difficult to place a value on. Although it is important to gage how you brand is growing over time, awareness is only indicative of business potential and not a particular sales conversion in itself. For this reason, many brands don’t spend time and resources tracking what they consider to be a soft metric. But without awareness, there is no further potential for business. Brand awareness is what gets the ball rolling.
Tracking Brand Awareness
- Growth of social following is an indication of awareness. Digging into the specifics of who is following your brand is an indication of how you rate within certain niches. Are your followers really potential customers? Are they useless bot accounts? Don’t simply count heads and call it good for brand awareness, determine who exactly is becoming aware.
- Growth of searches for branded terms is also an indication of awareness. Keep track of how you rank for your branded terms on both desktop and mobile. Depending on you business, even though mobile visitors might not convert, mobile traffic on branded terms may indicate people in research mode. Dig deeper to understand how people get to know your brand.
Reputation (Brand Sentiment)
Any brand that has had issues with maintaining a good reputation will tell you very quickly that negative brand perception will have a negative impact on your ability to do business. The flip-side of that coin is that when there’s lots of positive buzz about your brand, people actively making the effort to sing your praises for excellent service, other potential customers are drawn to your business. It is important, therefore, to regularly monitor brand mentions for both positive and negative sentiment.
- Keep an eye on both tagged and untagged mentions of your brand across social media. This may mean tracking channels that you aren’t active on. Remember to check common misspellings of your brand name when tracking these mentions. Tools like Buzzmetrics, Trackur, Brands Eye, and Nuvi offer a variety of options and price points to fit your needs.
- Keep an eye on what else might show up in search for your brand. Has a seriously disgruntled former employee or customer started a website bashing your brand? What about blog articles mentioning your brand are they positive or negative? It’s not enough to simply track your page rankings for branded terms. You need to watch what the whole page of results may be communicating about your brand.
Take reputation monitoring a step further by keeping an eye on your competitors. This information will give you insight into where your competitors are successfully spreading their messages. It can also highlight where the gaps in their communications open doors of opportunity for you. Public sentiment about these brands can also guide you to more and better opportunities within your industry.
- While the process is much the same as tracking your own brand reputation in social with both tagged and untagged mentions of your competitors, this is STRICTLY a listening exercise. Do not use this exercise to bash other brands in your space. This information should not be used directly against a competitor in the public eye.
- Make sure that you are tracking how your competitors are ranking in search on the keywords and terms most important to you. Regularly research what other relevant terms may be driving traffic to competitor sites rather than yours.
People and search engines are becoming more sophisticated about how they interpret online conversations. Those conversations beyond the direct relationship with your brand or your competitors are critical to understanding the deeper needs of customers and advocates. Social listening has evolved beyond listening to conversations about your industry to include other items of interest common to your communities.
- Time should be devoted on a regular basis to understanding new and existing followers. Sort existing followers into Twitter lists and Google+ circles so that you can get a custom feed from your community. Read and engage with those feeds. When someone new follows your brand, take a moment to add them to a feed and investigate some of the content they’ve shared in the past. Community is more than just how this group gathers around your brand.
- Based on your wider social listening, what sets of keywords can you begin to track and optimize? What are the common terms used for voice search on a mobile device? How well does new content that includes broader community topics drive traffic? Are there co-created content opportunities surfacing in the listening process?
A critical aspect of link building is the influencers working to link to your brand. Those influencers need to truly know their stuff and demonstrate that both their social communities and the search engines recognize their relevant contribution on important topics.
- Keep tabs not only on the active social channels and number of followers for potential influencers, but how truly relevant those audiences are to your brand. If a potential influencer has a huge following of cat lovers due to cat memes, your accounting software isn’t going to get much traction with that community even though the influencer is an accountant. How actively does an influencer’s community share content? Do they just consume or do they share?
- How does search-driven traffic stack up to social-driven traffic? Does a potential influencer have the search clout for the long haul or does their influence only last as long as there is social buzz?
All of these data points require tracking and reporting of search and social data. Make sure that you have the tools for the job.