Social media platforms are at the forefront of communications, and where most of the leads are being generated. Whenever a small business or enterprise uses social media promotion, it is important for them to be armed with the most sophisticated social media listening services at their fingertips.
SearchTarget defines social media listening, as the process of identifying and assessing what is being said about a company, individual, product or brand on the web.
Top Social Media Monitoring Tools at Your Disposal
Trying to collect these conversations from each channel is one time-consuming task, and that’s where social media monitoring tools come in. Here are the top six tools that will take your social listening to a whole new level.
SentiOne is a user-friendly and effective social media monitoring resource. Not only does it keep tabs on your brands mentions, but you can interact in real-time with your audience. The tool is available in 24 languages, and includes key features from the 12 types of social media listeners. In addition, its capabilities for online reputation management provide comprehensive analytics which can be used to further understand what works, what doesn’t, why, and spot user behavior, patterns, and future trends.
Here is the main problem of today’s Social Web: many brands are still passive. If you, as a consumer, have an urgent need, and wish to reach out to your favorite brand, you do it with the mindset that this present need will not be met right away. In a way, the consumer loses hope of getting an instant response even before sending a message, because most of the times, there is no real-time engagement. If you use the Facebook search graph to identify the pages of your favorite brands in your country, for example, most brand pages will display a response rate of under 75%, and “likely to respond in within a day”.
By offering a real-time engagement solution, tools such as SentiOne manage to create a space of connection for brands and consumers. This helps enterprises in staying connected with their audiences independent of region, country, industry – which is the basis of a functional, healthy community.
#2. Sprout Social
Sprout Social is another easy-to-use tool. You have important functions like integrated analytics. The ability to schedule and queue posts from the different social networks enables users to really target their message, and save time in the process. What could be added down the road to the software is being able to get a consolidated report.
When coordinating multiple teams (marketing, local marketing group, dealerships and supporting agencies), Falcon.io makes collaboration simple, and ensures a consistent brand message. It means the incorporated functionality allows the targeting of their messages to be similar across different locations.
The social media monitoring tool options from Oktopost offer in-depth reporting. It is a fantastic data-driven marketing software since you can track conversions dollar-for-dollar. No need for previous experience, or a dedicated social media person or team. What some users have reported missing is the integrated customer service function within the tool. But the tool offers plenty of advantages in terms of ROI. This article explains more.
Hootsuite has been around for many years. The software allows you to monitor keywords, manage multiple social media accounts and schedule posts. You can view all your social networks within a single place. Aside from the comprehensive functionality and reporting, the cost compared to the rest of the competition makes one wonder why it is not more affordable.
One issue to look out for though is the scheduling part: if not setup accordingly, you can wake up one morning to find your Twitter filled with “monologues” of text without any actual links or images. Happened to many!
The AgoraPulse tool can be characterized as a social media marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) suite. A lot of ease in scheduling, managing, and publishing posts across different social media platforms. The only functionality to be addressed is you cannot group social media channels per brand along with the scheduled publications in a brand group.
Social Media Care and The Importance of Social Media Monitoring
The use of social media care, social media customer service, is the process of answering questions from users about your products and services in a specific time frame. According to Socialbakers, “Using social listening to generate leads means tracking conversation around your own company and your competition in order to discover interested prospects.”
Another important aspect is it allows businesses and organizations to leverage their online reputation. Answering within a reasonable time frame to posts by users shows the brand is listening, and makes interactions more meaningful since you are responding to concerns.
Compiling these top social listening tools was the result of examining reviews and references via G2Crowd. All these tools stood out from tens of apps and software solutions available worldwide, each offering unique features to their respective markets.
Beyond social media listening, it is clear just how much of an impact social media marketing has on our daily lives. Not just as brands, but also as consumers. Brands can no longer rely solely on pushing sales pitches. It’s time to upgrade: they must resort on effective story-telling, and addressing questions from potential customers.
Just like Gary Vee said in one of his LinkedIn video stories, discussing why ToysRUs disappeared, “If you don’t upgrade, you die” – a bit harsh, but it’s the truth. If you’re not following the consumers and their path, you won’t ever meet them half way.
SEO isn’t just about optimizing your own content to be easily found by people performing search queries directly in search engines or social media platforms. More sweat is involved to ensure your brand is facing its audience correctly and competently.
As many know, social media plays a significant role in how consumers perceive brands and even in how easily they can find them. Because of this it is more important than ever to include brand monitoring as part of a comprehensive SEO plan. Here is how to do it.
Where to Start
To effectively implement brand monitoring you will need a tool. Relying on Google Alerts is a good start but there are far more effective apps available which provide detailed information and analysis.
Connecting with Influencers
People care about what other people say. Especially if the ones saying it are public figures. Or influencers for that matter. Now, it’s important to understand there are three types of influencers:
- Local Influencers – their opinion impacts the local industry.
- Industry-Specific Influencers – these are people that have high authority over specific topics, skills, and industries.
- General Influencers – people who are public figures, have often hundreds of thousands, if not millions of followers on social media.
Five years later, and this post from Copyblogger still outlines the best way to connect with influencers. A few ideas, besides social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or Instagram, include:
- Signing up for their program, product, service – putting some money in before asking for "free" stuff.
- Joining their on-site events or meetups: hey, if you have an opportunity to connect 1-on-1, do it!
- Asking the right relevant questions: One smart question can open many doors for you. Prove that you are smart, and that you know what you want from other people in terms of information.
Using Brand Monitoring Tools: Introducing Brand24
Brand24 is one of the newest faces on the brand monitoring tools scene, and has gained a lot of popularity among brands. The tool provides real-time insight into what is being said about your brand and your competition.
Membership plans start at $49 and can go up to as much as $399, plus customer plan for larger brands. However, a $49 plan is sufficient enough for an early-stage startup to monitor their brand successfully. Bonus: this is a pay-as-you-go type of service, which offers the user more flexibility and doesn’t force him into a 12-months contract or an automated payment scheme. The tool is fully automated, offers Slack integration, and has a mobile app available for iOS and Android devices.
The analytics section provides unique factoring such as advanced search queries, interactivity analytics, estimated social reach, and so on. A demo is available for testing if you need more time to think about it.
If you’ve read my recent article on customer journey mapping examples, then you should understand why knowing how people find you matters in the evolution of your services/products.
How Brand24 Works
Signing up for a free Brand24 account can be done with an email or using their Facebook integration.
Once you sign up, you will be asked to type in your target keywords or phrases. You can also specify what language you want results to be targeting.
The menu is located on the left of the dashboard and offers intuitive controls.
The overview portion of the dashboard is equally intuitive. It allows users to sort information by days, weeks, or months and to view by the most popular mentions or the most popular authors.
The bottom of the dashboard is especially valuable for identifiying the influencers who dominate the converstaion for your project’s keywords. Users can view the most influential profiles or sites and view associated statistical information.
The free version of Brand24 is robust. Those who want additional features can also choose to upgrade the service to one of the paid subscriptions.
Once you are monitoring brand mentions there are two powerful ways to use this knowledge to support your SEO efforts.
Request Mentions beyond Citations
Just because someone has cited a brand somewhere doesn’t mean they have linked to the website. Inbound links from authoritative websites are a valuable portion for your marketing efforts.
If a person is already citing a brand by name, they are more likely to be willing to include a proper mention with a link to their website, social media, or email address. You can use services such as HARO, or simply go the old fashion "blogger outreach" way.
Control the Narrative
If people are talking about your brand on social media, you need to be part of the conversation. Brand monitoring makes it possible to take action and instantly reshape the narrative if the brand is being mentioned in a negative light.
Alternatively, if the brand being complained about is a competitor why not swoop in and save the day? Monitoring your brand is a powerful tool but monitoring the competition can offer even wider perspective into what potential customers are happy with and what need has yet to be fulfilled.
Brand monitoring can maximize marketing efforts by providing direct consumer insight from those consumers who are already invested in your service or product. This allows you to learn exactly what they want so you can provide it and gain greater brand loyalty.
It will make it easier to identify the platforms on which they are most active so marketing efforts can be directed toward the right locations. If you know more people are mentioning your brand on Snapchat suddenly, it makes sense to invest the resources into developing a presence there. This is true for the reverse as well. You can avoid those platforms that have limited brand engagement to maximize marketing resources.
Any tool will work to a certain degree, whether you choose to pay $500+ a month or settle for $49. But people make the difference – and Brand24 excels in helping you reach those whose opinion counts. Other than that, you should make sure to have behind every brand monitoring tool, a sharp, detail-oriented employee or contractor who knows what they’re doing. The human factor should also be part of your marketing efforts, not just from a customer perspective, but also from an "in-house" operational point of view.
According to RuthAnn Wiesner, "if content is king, then Instagram is its own castle". As to why Instagram matters that much for business, here is a list of reasons compiled by Socialbakers:
- 300million monthly active users (MAU)
- 75million daily active users (DAU)
- Top 25 Instagram brand profiles receive 110 times more engagement than on Twitter
- Over 1Billion Likes Daily
- 3,600 new photos shared every minute everyday
Instagram Insights for Business
The visual platform itself is proving to be a good marketing tool for marketers and brands alike. As of August 2016, Instagram announced its release of Stories, aiming to take a swipe at Snapchat´s successful video messaging tool. In short, a platform that features plenty of opportunities for small and medium-sized business and just about any brand looking for a return on investment for their efforts.
Getting Your "Insta" Stories for Your Business
To get it up and running you need an "insta" business account. You can create one from scratch or upgrade your personal one. To upgrade, click the turn wheel icon in the upper right section of your profile and hit "switch". Warning: personal accounts can’t benefit from Stories at the moment.
Benefits of Insta Stories
Is there anything else besides the fresh social marketing perspective? You bet!
Stories allows your business account to be easily discovered by followers and non-followers. You also get access to Analytics, which gives a better insight to what works and what converts across your visual strategy.
Insta Tips and Tricks
It’s all about creating engagement and a sense of community with your followers. To do that, you need to transform your Instagram business channel into a visual storyteller. Here is what you can consider:
- Show personality
- Less is more: keep it 80% non-business and just 20% products/services
- Have call to action elements
- Follow back and engage
- Comment on other users’ photos
- Tag customers for contests and celebrations
- Use hashtags
- Say thank you
- Don’t over-abuse the Direct Messaging options J
The Greatness of Community
Additionally, photograph events and capture video with customers interacting with your products and services. Do not forget call to action elements such as life hacks, product reviews or suggestions for upcoming product launches, promotions and giveaways. Implicate your community members!
Getting Help from the Popular Kids
Follow back, engage and comment with #influencers of Instagram. Tagging users is a great conversation starter, however don’t overuse it.
There is no limit now for using hashtags, but don’t overdo it either, as it sends out the wrong message. Alas, keep the hashtags relevant. Don’t use only the hashtags that get massive clicks, but also the ones that get less, but more targeted traffic.
Harnessing the Power of Instagram Photos
Instagram is all about the "instant" visual: image, video and now story. How you choose to tell your story is more relevant than you think. This blog post from Yotpo showcases the uniqueness of "insta" stories:
- Instagram photos convert better than other types of visual content
- Instagram pics also convert because customer trust photos from previous customers
- Using Instagram has a positive effect on increasing e-comm conversion and engagement
- Instagram photos can be used in marketing materials
- Using Instagram photos allows you to repurpose valuable content, integrate user-generated content
Additional Practices and Curation Tools
To get a grasp of how existing businesses are succeeding, first check the Business Instagram page. Proceed by giving a chance to either of these curation tools to help you filter through stories, or to create better, more appealing stories for your insta business.
This is an Android and iOS photo-editing mobile app with high quality filters, with a free download button. You can use this part social network and photo editing platform to really set yourself apart from the rest.
Available on both iOS and Android OS, this is more than just your average photo editing mobile app. You can fine-tune photos by applying effects with a brush instead of filtering the entire image. Extra: save groups of filters as a template after the initial use, and reuse them Shakira style, "whenever, wherever".
This is an in-house Instagram goody, which allows you to create 1-second videos with no audio. Essentially super short GIFS that loop back and forth. Vinederful, in a way.
Before You Go…
Bottom line: Instagram is more than just a photo-editing & social sharing tool, proving that businesses can convert and strategize through the power of visual. One perfect example of insta success is National Geographic. Thanks to a large network of photographers their images never fail to tell a great story.
Not sure about your own Instagram marketing strategy? This infographic illustrates elements you can integrate for higher success rate.