Nearly half of the global population is on some form of social media. These online channels continue to change the way consumers interact with brands. Brands are more accessible to the public than ever before. With just a few taps on a screen, a user can engage with a company in real time.
And users expect brands to talk back.
This always-on expectation can be difficult to manage. You can’t simply set up a bunch of auto-responders or templates to use whenever someone mentions you. According to research from Salesforce, 84 percent of consumers want to be treated like a human, not just a sale.
So, what do you do when a user talks about your company on social media? Let’s explore what social mentions are and how brands can leverage them to drive sales and long-term customer loyalty.
- What Are Social Mentions?
- How to Respond to Social Mentions
- How to Track Social Mentions
- How to Use Social Mentions
- Best Social Media Monitoring Tools
- Conclusions on Social Mentions
- Want to Learn More?
What Are Social Mentions?
A social mention is when a user on social media talks about your company, brand, or product. Sometimes users will tag your social media page, and other times you’re not tagged at all. Social mentions might also feature your branded hashtags in some cases. Social mentions happen across all networks, even if you don’t have a presence on every channel.
In this example, the Twitter user tags sneaker brand Allbirds.
Here’s an example of a social mention of the brand where the user doesn’t tag them:
And here’s one where the user tags the #allbirds hashtag:
Social mentions are important as they can harm or help your brand’s reputation. Not only does the content of the social mention convey a message about your brand, but your response to these mentions also reiterates your brand’s positioning and strengthens (or hurts!) customer relationships.
How to Respond to Social Mentions
Social mentions are only as valuable as what you do with them. While many brands might ignore social mentions, the ones who stand out will engage with these call-outs.
Consumers know you’re listening. In fact, one Netbase study found that 68 percent of consumers know companies are listening, even if they don’t directly tag the brand. So it’s important to jump in when it makes sense.
I once had the chance to chat with Snapchat influencer Michael Platco. He told me of an experience he had with glasses brand Warby Parker. Platco had mentioned on Snapchat how he broke his glasses while traveling, so they reached out and shipped him a new pair. He then shared with his followers about how great the brand is, and we’re even talking about it here years later.
Keep in mind that there are different reasons why users may mention you on social media. Some of those might include:
- Coveting product: Some people might be a fan of your brand without ever actually buying a product. This is a great opportunity to reach out and push them towards conversion. One creative tactic is to provide a promo code they can use on their first purchase.
- Brand love: Customers might be showing off their purchases in the real world, or maybe they’re thanking you for providing such awesome merchandise. Share the love and express gratitude for these interactions.
- Feedback: Customers often come to social media to air their praises and grievances about a product. These mentions might include feature requests, new product requests, product improvements, etc. Tell users how you’re implementing this feedback and that you’ve shared it with the appropriate internal team.
- Criticism: As much as you might try to avoid them, there are always going to be trolls on social media. Who knows, you just might be able to change their opinion: 69% of people who Tweeted negatively say they feel more favorable when a business replies to their concern. Wendy’s is an amazing example of shutting down trolls.
- Press mentions: This is when a media outlet or someone prominent in your industry talks about your brand. Often, these social mentions also include a link to an article that the page is trying to drive traffic to.
- Pre-purchase questions: For those who haven’t yet purchased from your site, they might be asking questions to help them determine whether it’s worth the investment. Tim Ferriss once asked his audience about Harry’s vs. Dollar Shave Club. This would’ve been a great opportunity for either brand – or one of their competitors – to jump in on the comment thread.
- Support inquiries: Customers who’ve purchased a product might be seeking support on their order status, setting it up and using it, or troubleshooting an issue. Be proactive in your customer service for these situations.
The biggest takeaway: Respond.
Seventy-one percent of consumers will recommend your brand to friends and family after a positive social media interaction. Twitter also found that consumers not only have a more favorable impression of companies that respond to their tweets, but they’re also willing to spend up to 20 percent more with them.
The more you can engage with these social mentions, the more opportunity you have to amplify your reach, convey your brand message, and turn social browsers into loyal customers. Consider this:
It’s important to be consistent with all other customer touchpoints. Three-quarters of consumers expect a seamless experience across multiple channels – and 73 percent will do business elsewhere if they don’t get it.
While your tone may change, the core brand voice should be the same. Think about it this way: In your personal life, you always have the same voice. However, you may adjust your tone if you’re talking to a young child vs. a college-educated adult. Tone also changes based on context – speaking with someone at home is more casual than speaking with someone at a professional networking event.
Many brands have multiple social media employees. It may not always be the same person responding to social mentions. To maintain consistency, document a brand voice style guide and share with the wider team. Make sure you include examples of dos and don’ts so people can see the guidelines in action.
Provide an update or next steps
If the mention warrants it, let users know how you’re taking action. For example, if a customer is seeking support, you’ll want to respond with what your next steps are and how they can expect to hear from you. It’s always best to take action yourself rather than directing the user to take additional steps on your site or via email.
Note that some interactions may require a more private approach. You don’t want to unintentionally share any customer data to your whole audience. In these cases, move the conversation to a private or direct message.
Personalize your interactions
Consumers interact with you on social media to interact with a human, not a robot. It’s called “social” media after all. And while it may be tempting to create a generic, canned response for each type of mention, this isn’t the best way to go.
Customize each interaction to the user. Take Brooklinen for example. When they received a question on social media from a potential customer, they addressed him by name and answered all of his questions.
Remember, it’s social media, not corporate communications. This audience expects humans to interact – and that means it’s okay, encouraged even, to get creative and have some fun with it.
Apparel brand Outerknown received some constructive criticism about the frequency of their marketing emails from one user. Rather than responding with a “thanks for the feedback, we’ll pass it along!”, they opted for something with more color.
Respond in a timely fashion
Social media interactions are instant; it’s important to be timely when responding to social mentions. If you wait a week, you risk the user forgetting about their initial mention in the first place – or worse, losing out on a sale to the competition.
In this interaction, Thread Wallets responded to the user in the same day.
Be kind and respectful
“The customer is always right.” It’s an old adage but it still rings true. And when you’re posting on social media, it’s not just the user you’re engaging with who sees your posts – anyone can. While you want to have fun, be personable, and get creative, you also need to keep it professional.
Treat all users with kindness and respect, even if they’re offering not-so-nice criticism of your brand. One Peak Design customer had an issue with their product, which was gifted to them. The brand offered support, along with a friendly smiley face, to help the customer get what they need.
How to Track Social Mentions
Tracking social mentions for a newer brand might be fairly simple, but as you grow and more users interact with you, manual processes will become unwieldy, expensive, and time-consuming. That’s where social listening tools come in.
Social listening is when companies track conversations and topics that happen on social media channels. To track social mentions, you’d use social listening and monitoring tools that can monitor what people are saying about your brand and products on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
If there are too many mentions and it becomes unrealistic to respond to them all, determine a system for prioritization. Categorize each social mention and when you see trends, develop consistent responses for each type. Remember to tweak each one slightly to customize it.
The way you prioritize depends on your business and your goals with social media. If you’re focusing on product feedback as your No. 1 goal, then those are the social mentions you want to prioritize. If you’re more interested in brand awareness and PR, then focus on media mentions.
How to Use Social Mentions
Beyond responding to social mentions, there are ways you can leverage this engagement for other purposes and in different channels. This can give the moment a longer shelf life.
- Curate UGC: User-generated content (UGC) doesn’t only save you time and money, but it’s also more impactful: UGC is 35 percent more memorable than other media. You can turn positive social mentions into content for your social media posts, website, email, and other digital campaigns. THINX requests permission to use the content in the example below:
- Find influencers: Almost half of consumers depend on influencer recommendations on social media. This form of social proof is a great way to get new audiences to know and trust your brand. Many social listening tools will help you determine which users have the most reach, or influence, on social media – and which ones are worth pursuing larger collaborations with.
- Improve your business: Many social mentions might contain feedback or ideas which would be useful to pass on to the appropriate team at your company. This is also a great way to show users that you hear them and respect their input, which can drive more engagement and loyalty. Looking for deeper insights? Follow up with the users who’ve mentioned your brand and see if they’re willing to provide more in-depth feedback.
- Develop audience insights: By tracking the types of users who are mentioning your brand, you might start to see commonalities. Maybe it’s other brands they follow, a geographic location they’re clustered in, or a specific hobby they share. Build audiences and segments you can use to target in paid social and other marketing campaigns. Track commonly used hashtags and incorporate them into your own strategy.
Best Social Media Monitoring Tools
There are tons of tools out there, so we’ve listed a few of the best ones to help you get started.
- Sprout Social
- Rival IQ
A tool built specifically for tracking brand mentions, Mention also has an API if you’re looking for more flexibility and customization. “With Mention, I can identify coverage and mentions quickly; I’m notified about press coverage before editors inform me personally,” Kent Lewis, president and founder of Anvil Media, told us. “This allows me to promote the coverage quickly and impress the editors that I’ve already seen their article.”
Lewis says Mention takes a lot of the “work” out of finding and engaging with social mentions. “The passive nature is fantastic,” he said of the daily email notifications for all mentions. You can also generate custom reports, check out your competitors’ mentions, and create Boolean alerts for highly targeted tracking.
Keyhole also tracks mentions, sentiment, and influencers. But what makes it special is their AI technology, which automatically notifies you if abnormal circumstances occur –— things like an unexpected spike in negative mentions, or if a post about your brand goes viral. This is critical for reputation management and dealing with small issues before they turn into big PR disasters.
Awarios is a robust social listening tool which crawls more than 13 billion pages on the web every day. Using several different data providers instead of just one, Awario boasts itself as one of the most comprehensive options available.
Like many tools, Awario allows you to find and connect with influencers with whom you can engage in larger, more impactful collaborations. You can track the growth of social mentions over time, as well as brand sentiment.
Perhaps the coolest feature is Awario Leads, which curates posts complaining about competitors or asking for recommendations for products similar to yours and turns those into social selling opportunities.
Hootsuite is best known as an all-in-one social media management and tracking tool, and its social listening capabilities are not to be overlooked. Megan Meade, social media marketing specialist at software comparison engine Software Path, told us that Hootsuite is their No. 1 tool for tracking brand mentions.
“It’s easy to set up a stream for a brand to track all mentions across all social channels, so everything is in one place,” she said. “You can also create teams on Hootsuite which mean you can divide the workload of responding to brand mentions to team members by assigning or tagging posts.” Hootsuite will alert the assigned individual so they can respond promptly.
Sentiment analysis, hashtag and keyword tracking, competitor analysis, and influencer identification are core features of Brand24. The tool will also give influencers a “score” based on their reach and, well, influence. An authority index score is assigned to every social mention, which can make it easier for you to prioritize when you have a mountain to get through.
With Brand24, you can group social mentions according to your own guidelines – whether it’s by topic, product, region, type of mention, or more. Slack fans, listen up: It also integrates with Slack so your social mention notifications can automatically go to the channel of your choice.
Agorapulse has the standard social listening features: tracking keywords and hashtags, identify influencers, centralize all social mentions across networks.
Beyond that, Agorapulse has a way which allows you to categorize and prioritize each social mention. This is especially great for larger teams, as you can tag mentions for action or follow-up from specific internal team members. No social mention will go unnoticed!
Sprout Social is a social media management tool with social listening features. In addition to scheduling posts to your pages and tracking engagements, you can set up feeds to track hashtags and other topics.
Rachel Ford, president and co-founder of Ford Media Lab, likes that it tracks and centralize all mentions. “Sprout compiles all direct and indirect social media mentions into one place, enabling brands to monitor and respond to consumers across multiple channels,” she told us.
Ford recommends tracking your brand name, competitors, and keywords in your niche (don’t forget frequent misspellings, she noted). “When a user mentions your words, the mention appears in your inbox for easy liking, connecting, and sharing,” she said.
Rival IQ is a tool which focus on data and reporting so you can optimize your social media marketing strategy. It’s also the tool that Jared Bauman, CEO and co-founder of 201 Creative, uses for many of their clients.
“Rival IQ has a strong range of charts and graphs which succinctly roll data up, making it easy to quickly see what’s happening with your brand on social media,” Bauman told us. Like many tools, Rival IQ centralizes data from all social media platforms.
The tool will also tell you demographics and deeper insights about the people who are engaging with your brand. “This helps for setting up better target audiences when advertising, along with learning the best times to post and engage on social media for the specific brand,” he said.
If influencer marketing is your jam – and if you can afford the $800 per month price tag – Brandwatch is the tool for you. Mostly focused on influencer-matching, Brandwatch will let you know who your larger ambassadors are, as well as those with smaller followings.
Plus, it has features that report on influencer marketing ROI (always a challenge). And once you’ve begun work with influencers Brandwatch has found for you, you can also use it to optimize those campaigns – identifying your top revenue-driving influencers and finding hidden micro-influencers who can add a boost to the existing online chatter.
Starting at $9,600/year
Talkwalker explores more than just what’s happening on the major social media channels. It also aggregates mentions from other online communities like forums and digital publications.
Talkwalker’s Influencer One tool is a great way to find brand ambassadors who are actively mentioning your brand. You can also use it to build and track the success of influencer collaborations.
To go a step further, Talkwalker also tracks visual social mentions. In other words, you input your logo and they’ll conduct visual crawls to see which images mention your brand in a visual, rather than text-based, way.
Conclusions on Social Mentions
Posting to your social profiles is just one piece of the social media marketing puzzle. It’s not just about sounding off to the world – it’s about creating connections through authentic engagements. Paying a little extra attention to who’s talking about you can be the key to standing out in a crowded space. Remember:
- Social mentions aren’t just when you’ve been explicitly tagged. Using social media listening tools can help you keep track of conversations that you otherwise wouldn’t have known about – not to mention respond in a timely manner.
- Don’t be afraid to engage with the trolls. You never know who else is listening, and you just might turn that troll into a lifelong customer.
- We’re all human. Be personable. Have fun. It’s okay to get creative. Consumers gravitate towards brands that show their authentic, human side – and engaging with social mentions is a chance for you to do exactly that.
Want to Learn More?
- 15 Ways to Increase Social Media Engagement Quickly
- 10 Social Media Statistics You Need to Know in 2019 [Infographic]
- 9 Social Media Tools for Ecommerce Store Owners
- Social Proof: What It Is and Why It’s Great for Marketing
How do you manage social listening and responding to mentions for your company? Which tools have been most valuable to you? Sound off in the comments!