Did you know that 90% of all the data on the web today was created in just the last 2 years alone?
People share everything on the web, especially in social media: private thoughts, personal files, baby pictures… even photos of their credit cards. More importantly, they also share their personal opinions & experiences using different brands, products and services on social.
Never in the entire course of our history have we ever had better access to such a massive amount (billions) of candid customer insights, such as product reviews or brand mentions, and it’s all available across the web and in social.
All these fancy terms like big data or actionable insights might sound like hot buzzwords, but they don’t necessarily communicate benefits. That’s why I’ve decided to list some practical applications for all the web monitoring data that you collect. Here are a few tips and hacks that you can apply immediately for growth – and they can be used for businesses of all sizes!
Tip 1. Get to know your customers
Web monitoring (a.k.a. social media monitoring) tools give you access to public mentions about your brand, product or service. You get to hear your customers’ raw opinions on the web and see why they like & buy your product.
See how much Tesla’s customers love the company for their self-driving mode:
Web monitoring can also show you the reasons why people may like or dislike your brand:
I hate coming to a restaurant and waitin for food. This is why I like McDonald's
— Samantha Lamonte (@samanthalamonte) February 13, 2013
Customer insights on the web help you improve your product based on honest & relevant user feedback.
Sometimes what you think customers like and what they actually like are two different things. Boost your marketing by talking through the benefits that actually matter to them!
Moreover, accessing negative mentions across the web will show you where your weaknesses are, so you’ll be better prepared to respond to any potentially unhappy customers. Keep in mind that all brands have unhappy customers. The only difference between the brands we love and the brands we hate is in the way that they handle their unhappy customers, especially in social media.
Tip 2. Engage your audience
Getting to know your customers is cool. But engaging them is way cooler! Once you find that people are talking about your company on the web or in social media – respond! Thank them for their kind words. Apologize to your unhappy customers, and try to resolve any problems. Doesn’t sound like rocket science, right? Because it’s not! Audience engagement in social media is absolutely the best growth hack I can recommend.
Engaging your customers on the web will allow you to quickly grow your brand ambassadors – happy customers are more willing to recommend your company, both on- and off-line.
Here’s an example of a brand mention in social media for City Lodge Hotel GrandWest, located in Cape Town, South Africa:
at grand west for lunch the other day, i noticed all their main posters in the foyer were missing apostrophes in "what's on". no one cares.
— Jason Elk (@jasonelk) July 7, 2012
And this is the hotel’s response from their official profile (notice the hotel’s Twitter profile wasn’t tagged in the original post):
— GrandWest (@GrandWestSA) July 11, 2012
Needless to say, the customer was very happy with receiving a response on social:
@GrandWestSA you guys deserve an award for brand care and innovation – fantastic response, thank you! 🙂
— Jason Elk (@jasonelk) July 11, 2012
And here, my favorite example of a brand (Virgin Trains) engaging a customer in social media:
I've just had a reasonably large poo and there is no toilet roll left on the @virgintrains 19.30 train from Euston to Glasgow pls send help.
— Adam (@AdamYT) December 2, 2014
The social media managers behind Virgin Trains were quick on their feet and reacted well:
The problem was taken care of in a matter of minutes:
This online conversation received a huge amount of exposure via social, blogs, BuzzFeed, and much more. Literally, millions of people learned about Virgin Trains as a company. A lot of their customers went ahead to become their brand ambassadors, myself included (as seen above).
According to the Harvard Business Review, customers who encounter positive customer care experiences from a brand in social media are nearly 3X more likely to recommend them!
And it’s not just about the mentions that you engage with: this will make a good impression on all the people who observe the public conversations that you have in social media with your customers.
Turn your observers into promoters, and your promoters into devotees.
This has worked for many companies. For instance, take Zappos. When they first started, they had a limited marketing budget, so they focused on providing outstanding customer service, especially via social media. Their happy customers quickly turned into their promoters, both on- and off-line. The company is now super successful and known worldwide. Engaging mentions for your brand on social can help you do the same for your own business!
Furthermore, less than 5% of companies currently engage their customers in social media, so you can really stand out by reaching out to your online audience. Keep in mind that according to the McKinsey & Co Report 2016, social customer care costs 6X less than the cost of traditional customer contact channels such as call centers.
This all paints a pretty picture, but it also seems a bit time-consuming. It doesn’t have to be, though. Even if your brand generates tens of thousands of online mentions in social media on a daily or weekly basis – you can start by engaging just the most popular mentions. Top web monitoring tools come with filters so that you can easily find the most important mentions.
Even if you only have 10 minutes a week to spare – you can still generate significant value for your company just by engaging the top mentions on the web.
The most useful tools also have a mobile app for web monitoring. This lets you respond to people who are talking about your company at your convenience. I often respond to online mentions of our company while stuck in traffic or waiting in line at the mall.
Tip 3. Find the right websites for your ad campaign
Web monitoring tools can also tell you which sites generate the highest volume of mentions for your company, industry, and competitors. This shows you where your audience spends their time on the web. Greater user affinity means you can create ad campaigns with much higher conversion rates, while higher conversion equals more customers with lower acquisition costs.
Here’s an example from Zortrax – a leading 3d printing solution. Zortrax could leverage web monitoring to pinpoint Thingiverse.com as one of the most active websites mentioning their products. Web monitoring reveals that this would be a perfect channel for them to reach potential customers.
The most active websites for your brand mentions are also great places to respond to current customers. In many cases, they provide greater value than even very popular social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, and are ideal channels for engaging your audience and building your brand authority.
Tip 4. Find influencers!
Social media monitoring (aka web monitoring) tools help you identify industry influencers – key individuals who have influence over potential buyers. Once you’ve found them, you can reach out to them and try to get their attention to generate exposure for your brand and product. The most common form of influencer marketing is done by sending your product out to an influencer for review. Not only do you receive valuable insights from a high-end user, but you can also get a great deal of exposure from the influencer’s social media channels or blogs.
Here’s an example: Dying Light is a popular, open world survival-horror video game developed by Techland. Through social media monitoring, they would find that they can track and engage top influencers who’ve mentioned their game during the past few months. JackSepticEye or theRadBrad appear to be perfect candidates.
They both have large followings and, more importantly, generate a lot of engagement with their posts. Moreover, they’ve already mentioned Dying Light on the web in previous months – 28 times, combined. These were mentions that also served as opportune openings for social media managers to reach out and start building relationships. As mentioned above, this is the best way to turn observers into promoters, and promoters into devotees.
Top social media monitoring tools identify influencers not just through their reach, but also take into account their interactivity index. This allows you to find true influencers who are able to reach and engage your target audience.
Tip 5. Detect sales & marketing opportunities
Most consumers do research or ask for input on the web prior to making a purchase decision. Modern marketers will retrace buyer journeys and create exposure for their brands along these paths. Path markers include message boards, review sites, blog posts and social media threads, as well as conversations relevant to the industry. In other words: social selling.
By using social media monitoring tools, you can engage the conversations that truly matter – the ones that have huge influence over buying decisions! Engage them to create exposure for your brand, drive traffic to your website, and generate sales.
Example: During the Winter Olympics in Sochi (Russia), Airbnb monitored mentions on the web about their services by influencers who were unhappy with their accommodations. They engaged these mentions via social media and turned them into conversations where they could also promote their services in a humorous light.
— Airbnb (@Airbnb) February 7, 2014
AirBnb didn’t just increase exposure for their company on Twitter, but the engagement also got them featured in Mashable, BusinessInsider and many more influential social media platforms.
Another example of engaging conversations on the web to drive sales is … our own company. I know, I know – that was a super smooth way to plug our own company as a case study, but our results have been pretty amazing, so I had to share.
At Brand24, we engage conversations in social media related to our business all the time. Whenever and wherever people talk about “marketing tools”, “social media tools”, “social listening tools”, “PR tools”, etc – we engage – gently.
It’s not about selling your product, it’s about solving people’s problems! It’s about building authority and trust.
If we see a solution that’s compatible with a potential customer’s needs, we will openly recommend it without even mentioning our company.
This is a form of marketing that customers appreciate:
Was looking for a social listening tool & @brand24 found me. They immediately set me up with a trial and turns out, I love the platform!
— Hailey Crider (@hailey_crider) July 22, 2016
This is why social selling is a major source of our traffic & sign-ups. We get almost 4,000 new monthly users and 880 sign-ups just from Quora – one of many social marketing channels that we use to talk to potential customers.
This type of marketing isn’t really perceived as marketing, but more as peer recommendations. For the best results, mention your brand to potential customers when they have an actual need for your product, so you can be helpful and offer a real solution to their problems.
Tip 6. Measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategies
Performance marketing is gaining popularity. However, marketing effectiveness can still be difficult to track. You might wonder if people are talking about your new YouTube video, if your content marketing is working, or whether people are starting to share your content. And what do they say when they do share? Those are some of the questions that web monitoring tools can answer.
Web monitoring tools provide additional KPIs that help you track your marketing progress.
If you track the name of your brand as a keyword, you can use the number of mentions on the web to measure the amount of buzz that you generate. Additional metrics like Social Media Reach show you the number of people who could’ve had contact with online mentions of your brand, while the number of Interactions tell you how people reacted – through the amount of likes, comments, retweets, favs, and shares received, etc.
The best web monitoring tools will also include an automated sentiment analysis, which measures the number of positive and negative mentions.
Obviously, a sentiment analysis algorithm cannot compete with human analyses. Still, even an imperfect automated sentiment analysis can help you extract meaningful, emotional mentions from all the results that you’ve collected from the web for your brand.
The number of positive and negative mentions can help you measure your brand’s happiness index.
Track the progress of both your marketing and customer support teams to gain useful KPIs.
Tip 7. Tracking hashtags
More brands are now using hashtags to engage their audiences on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. Typically, they do this by interacting with people who use specific hashtags related to their brand or campaign. This allows them to measure the number of tweets & posts for a specific hashtag, and analyze the extent of their corresponding social media reach.
Important: for complete data, you should have your web monitoring project set up before your campaign begins. Most web monitoring tools will collect some historical data, but it will usually be far from complete.
Here’s an example from Red Bull’s hashtag campaign, inspired by a photo from Twitter. Using their #PutaCanOnIt hashtag, Red Bull encouraged people to create their own images for social media with energy drink cans placed in creative positions. The hashtag became very popular and people from around the world posted images in their social media channels displaying the Red Bull logo.
Red Bull also set the standard for engaging conversations in social media to build stronger relationships with their audience:
Tip 8. Social stream / social media wall
This is the best way to engage your audience and leverage their social media reach to promote your event. Setting up a dedicated conference hashtag fuels networking and helps users exchange insights.
You can display your social media wall both on your website and during your event on a large screen. For an eye-catching effect, add a mosaic of Instagram photos from your hashtag to the display.
Here’s an example of a social media wall from the Intel Extreme Masters gaming championship:
Note: Social media walls are not only used for events. An increasing number of brands are now including social media components in their in-store displays to interest and engage customers.
Tip 9. Live testimonials
92% of consumers trust peer recommendations more than advertisements.
In other words, you should promote your company through the words of your actual customers. The best customer testimonials, case studies, and showcase videos are the right ways to communicate your product on the web. There is a good chance that your website contains testimonials already. However, your average testimonial isn’t clickable, so consumers don’t necessarily trust them very much; it’s hard for them to tell if the testimonial is from last week or the last millennia.
Live testimonials are a compilation of mentions across the web (usually positive) that your potential clients can click on. They’re able to see the original posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever social media platforms they come from. Live testimonials boost your credibility since viewers on your website can see who the authors are and even verify the dates of publication.
Here’s an example of a dedicated live testimonial landing page where you can find up-to-date opinions for LiveChat:
Their slogan is that’s what customers think about LiveChat. Don’t just take our word for it; check out their tweets.
You already like and trust them a little bit more, don’t you?
Greater trust for a brand also translates to a higher conversion rate, more happy customers, and increased sales!
Tip 10. Track competitors
There’s an old saying, don’t worry about the competition, let them worry about you. It’s a good idea to use a web monitoring tool so you can learn about your main competitor’s strengths as well as their weaknesses. This helps you improve your communication with the public while speaking through the advantages of using your product.
You can use web monitoring to analyze your competitor’s marketing channels and find the most influential authors or most active sources of discussions.
Benchmark your marketing results against those of your competitors. Compare KPIs such as the total number of mentions on the web and overall public sentiment towards your brand (positive or negative) to see how you’re doing and where you should be.
Tip 11. Learn from the best and find new ways to communicate with and acquire customers
Even though I believe in original marketing strategies that stand out, I also support finding inspiration from watching professionals at work. I look up to companies like DollarShaveClub or MailChimp and try to learn by observing their marketing strategies, even if we might be in totally different industries.
Web monitoring helps you dissect marketing strategies for most companies. You get to see how they interact with their audiences – what type of content do they push? Which influencers are mentioning them? Where are their most active sources of discussions? Which social media channels do they use? This is all valuable information for your own company.
Tip 12. (For agencies) Research potential clients
It’s what Don Draper would do. Know your target clients better than they know themselves. I see a growing number of agencies that research their potential clients on social before they even meet. They find insights that lead to creative campaigns, and improve their understanding of target groups.
Once you win a client – you can even give them access to your web monitoring projects, so they can view the data and see that you’ve done your homework.
Most social agencies offer services that are based on social media monitoring tools. Our technology is valuable, but it’s up to the people who use it to get the most that they can out of it: they need to know how to leverage the collected data and engage conversations on the web. That’s why some clients prefer to let agencies run social media monitoring tools for them.
Using web monitoring to manage keywords that help you extract insights and engage conversations on the web will result in steep improvements in your customer satisfaction.
Tip 13. Uncover sources of direct traffic in Google Analytics
One of the most frustrating marketing-related issues is lack of knowledge. It’s OK when you have a spike in sales due to unknown reasons, but it’s not so great when your sales plummet and you have no clue why. In this respect, online marketing is much better than off-line marketing because almost all activity can be tracked. Almost.
There’s a significant part of your traffic that you’re virtually unable to break down: “direct traffic” in Google Analytics.
Most of your website visitors can potentially come from “direct traffic”, leaving you clueless about how these people actually heard about your product or service. There could have been a notable mention about your company on a well-known podcast. Or maybe people have been recommending your product on a popular Quora thread, or somewhere else in social media.
Brand24 lets you uncover the source of most of your direct traffic by linking it to news stories, blog posts, social media posts, etc.
Here’s an example: on March 1st, we noticed a spike in the number of new users visiting our website. The spike was generated mostly by “direct traffic”, but there weren’t any indicators about where those people were actually coming from.
Fortunately, using Brand24, we were able to trace this traffic back to an article that had been published on Inc.com, as well as a podcast episode that had mentioned our company. Our number of daily mentions spiked. The same thing happened to our social media reach, which represents the number of people who could have potentially had contact with any content on the web that mentions us.
This led us to invest more resources towards guest posts and leveraging podcasts as a great way to reach our target audience.
Tip 14. Marketing campaigns based on social media monitoring
Social media monitoring makes it possible for you to leverage data to launch innovative marketing campaigns. For instance, a pizza franchise decided to use Brand24 to find people who had been tweeting about pizza cravings.
Once they found some hungry pizza fans, they tried to pinpoint the location of their tweets so they could deliver some free pizza to their workplaces!
Obviously, everybody was thrilled to get a free snack based on their social media activity. A lot of them shared pictures of the free pizza on-line. You can read the full story here:
Another cool example of this is from a social media campaign called the Snickers Hungerithm. They created a hunger algorithm that uses web monitoring to monitor moods online. Whenever online anger would go up, the price of Snickers bars would go down – amazing stuff! See more details in the video bellow:
And one more really cool example is from Kleenex’s “Feel Good” web campaign, where they searched through social media to identify status updates indicating sickness. Then, they contacted friends of the people who had been feeling sick via social, and they were able to obtain postal addresses to send them “get well soon” Kleenex goody bags.
100% of goody bag recipients uploaded pictures of their kits on their Facebook timelines to express their surprise and gratitude. As a result, Kleenex had very high levels of interaction on social media. From just 50 kits, Kleenex received over 650,000 impressions and 1,800 interactions!
Tip 15. Handle a PR Crisis
There are many tutorials that tell you how to handle a PR Crisis. The problem is, most PR crises occur outside of channels that we own. They mostly happen outside of our Facebook page, appearing on message boards, personal social media profiles, or review sites. This creates a major challenge – how can you quickly identify a PR crisis?
As you might have already guessed, web monitoring / social media monitoring presents the best solution.
Web monitoring helps you stay on top of a crisis and shows you how it spreads to other channels and social media platforms, etc. It doesn’t matter if it’s a reputation-busting blog post or news article – you can track social media shares and be aware of new warning signs.
This is exactly how a major CEE on-line publisher – Onet – turned their PR crisis into a positive experience. Onet was an official broadcaster for a Champions League competition – the most prestigious and popular football competition in the world. They provided live streaming access on the web, and you could easily pay for it via SMS.
During one of the most popular games (Manchester United vs Real Madrid), their SMS system broke: after charging customers, the system failed to send out passwords so users could access the live stream.
Through web monitoring, Onet was able to discover the problem even before their IT team did!
Not only were they able to quickly fix the issue, but they then used the web monitoring data to reach out to each and every user who had been affected by the malfunction and offered them free access for the rest of the Champions League season.
Needless to say, people were positively surprised and some of them turned into loyal brand ambassadors.
Tip 16. Enrich your content marketing
One of the most popular ways to enrich new articles on blogs and news sites is to use opinions and feedback collected from all over the web. This helps to reinforce a thesis or can also show readers totally new perspectives.
Social media monitoring helps you find interesting quotes and conversations that can all make your content more appealing.
Much more appealing! Just like I’m making this blog post way more appealing by embedding a random Ryan Gosling photo with a lion cub.
— Ryan Gosling (@RyanGosling) May 10, 2016
What’s more, you can also find out how many people actually talk about the topic that you want to base your article on. Social media monitoring provides you with a number of meaningful stats and metrics.
A few examples here: our analysis of buzz on the web related to the Billboard Music Awards 2017 as well as from Netflix announcing its new TV show based on The Witcher (video game).
Using Brand24, you can quickly do a sentiment analysis to find out how your new product, movie, or event is being received by your audience.
Tip 17. Automated reports
I used to work in the advertising space and, of course, I just loved it whenever a customer would ask me for a progress report on a campaign… late Friday afternoon. This is precisely where social media monitoring tools save you time! With automated PDF reports, Excel reports, and with infographics – you can generate personalized reports in a matter of seconds.
Congratulations! You got this far – most people won’t.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that web monitoring can bring a lot of value to your business. You can try it for yourself; a free trial costs nothing but your time. Obviously, we recommend Brand24 – our own web monitoring tool. However, there are plenty of valuable tools out there. Every tool is different, and each one has its own set of pros and cons. Luckily, the tips that we’ve gathered above are universal, so you’ll be able to use them no matter which web monitoring tool you choose.
Taking the time to learn more about web monitoring tools and how to use them is a smart investment as this is one of the fastest-growing and most in-demand skills that you can have, at least according to this Linkedin report.
Please let me know if you have any questions about social media monitoring (aka web monitoring)! This probably sounds like something we’re supposed to say at the end of a blog post, but it’s true! I’m really here to help. Drop me a line via comments, Facebook, LinkedIn – or just add the #brand24 or #brand24CEOisTheWorst hashtag anywhere on social, like Insta or Twitter, and I’ll come to you. Try me!