The Importance Of Tracking Your Brand Mentions

by | Dec 7, 2017 | Actionable SEO Tips

“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about,
and that is not being talked about” –
Oscar Wilde
The great showman, Phineas T. Barnum famously said “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”.

Of course, he didn’t live in the super transparent internet age where information (and misinformation) spreads like wildfire. Still, I think he would have quite enjoyed the challenge… and opportunity.

The Agora is no stranger to publicity. The ideas and messages most of the businesses deliver are often controversial. They’re typically polarising by nature and rarely “mainstream”.

That result is that people tend to love them or hate them. There’s not much room in the middle.

This is not accidental. A strong message, conveying a big idea, is a huge part of what makes businesses in the Agora network successful. We don’t shy away from taking a position. Our ideas are often met by excitement or anger in equal measure.

If our products were reviewed in a fair and democratic way, they’d ironically fall somewhere in the middle, deceptively average – probably 2.5 out of 5 stars. That’s because you’d have a large number of 5 stars and an equal number of ones.

For it is also true; you can’t please all of the people all of the time. And in our business we never try.

Generating an emotional reaction is essential to creating interest… and ultimately a sale. A by-product, however, is that many people will often be enraged.

The good news is, that results in big advocates. The bad news is that it creates people who will become so angry they will harm your business.

It’s tempting to dismiss the objectors. To brush them aside, thinking they’ll never be a customer and there’s no point trying to please them.

That approach doesn’t fly anymore.

These days, everyone has a platform. Social media, review sites, and blogs mean those opinions can potentially be seen by a large number of people. Many of them are your current or potential customers.

Having a strategy to manage the reputation of you and your brand is essential. At least it should be.

Most of us wouldn’t consider ourselves “brand advertisiers”. We’ve built a business on direct response principles. You could almost say many of us are “anti branding”.

Paradoxically, the “brand” may be more important than ever for direct response businesses.

Most of our businesses are not well known to the general public. We don’t have celebrity appeal or have recognisable faces or names you would typically know at a glance.

None of the gurus are Warren Buffet or Dr. Phil.

That means one of the first things someone is going to do before they buy from you is to try to find out who you really are.

This is why you need to understand the impact of “brand mentions” and how you can harness them for the good of your business.

What are Brand Mentions?

Quite simply, brand mentions are instances where your brand is mentioned in places where your prospects can find them. These include social media, review sites, blog posts, and editorial and expert opinion pieces published on media sites.

Your “brand” isn’t just your company name of course. It includes all the elements that make up your business or even specific promotions.

It can include the names of your editors, gurus, and the products you sell. It may even include some of the terms you have in your sales letters, as Brian discussed in his article on Promo Driven Search (PDS).

There are a number of reasons why you should track conversations about these elements. Today, I’m going to focus on two specific reasons that open up a number of opportunities for you.

Why you should track brand mentions

1. Reputation management

You spend a lot of time – and money – acquiring new leads or getting people to read or watch your promotions.

Most of your campaigns likely use push marketing techniques. You use email… display networks… Facebook or native ad networks to deliver your messages and get a signup or sale. Awesome!

You put a lot of effort into your email marketing.

For those using two-step (lead generation) strategies, you probably employ a well crafted welcome series (gauntlet) to get your best content in front of your new readers because you know that new leads are eager to buy. It’s proven. It works. It’s the right thing to do, right? It sure is.

A lot of our best promotions make big contrarian claims. These are the promotions that you’re sending to your newly acquired readers early in the relationship. If you’re using 1 step (direct sale) strategies, these people may not even know who you are.

Like any relationship, it takes time to build trust.

And when that relationship is unsolicited, in the form of an ad they’re seeing on the web or in their FB newsfeed, it is especially challenging.

They probably didn’t know who you were when they saw your ad. Even if they sign up for your e-letter they may have only done so to get your free report. They still don’t really know much about you.

In that early stage of the relationship, they are learning about you. They’re reading your e-letter and being introduced to your ideas… your products… and your editors. You’re telling them that if they give you $49 today, you’ll give them the name of a cryptocurrency that could make them wealthy or a secret to help make them healthier.

You may be able to back up these bold claims, but your reader may not believe you. That’s understandable this early in the relationship. There’s very little trust for you right now.

Ask yourself this. When somebody who you don’t fully know or trust makes a big claim to you, and you don’t know whether to believe it or not, what’s the first thing you do?

You look for external proof. You do your research. Possibly, that’s in person, maybe asking a friend, a financial advisor, or perhaps a doctor. More likely you Google it, right? I know I do.

Your newly acquired reader will do the same. 81% of people perform online research before making a large purchase.

AIM tip: Brian recently wrote an article about dating your readers, giving some tips on how to start the relationship off on the right foot, to help build trust, stay out of the spam folder, and stay in the inbox. You can read it here.

Tracking brand mentions can give you some other very quick SEO wins too. The main one being it’s an easy source of backlinks.

2. Claiming Unlinked Mentions

Link building is hard. Probably the most difficult part of SEO, but what if I told you there’s a way that you could potentially pick up 5, 10, or even more backlinks for a few hours work?

Well, if you follow my advice above, you’ll probably ask somebody else in your office, or Google it, to see if it’s true… and I wouldn’t blame you. It’s a big claim. But it is certainly true.

People reference brand names online all the time-in articles, editorial, and expert opinion pieces, and in reviews without actually linking to the page or product that they’re talking about.

I die a little inside each time I see a guru interviewed on huge media sites such as CNBC, CNN, Bloomberg, The New York Times etc… without a link back to their website. A link from these high authority sites can have a huge positive effect on your site’s authority and on your site’s traffic.

So how do you find these unlinked mentions?

There are a few brand monitoring tools that you can use to find where you’re being mentioned and to set up alerts to notify you of mentions in the future.

Personally, I use a combination of Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer & SEMrush’s Brand Monitoring tool. Both are paid tools, but both provide free trials if you want to check them out, and grab your first 5 to 10 easy backlinks. I’ve also heard great things about Buzzsumo’s Brand Mention alerts tool but haven’t taken it for a test-drive yet. If you have, please add your feedback on the tool, on our Ready Fire Aim Facebook group.

I really like the SEMrush tool, as I find it filters out inaccurate mentions better than the other tools. If your editor has a common name, it can be time-consuming and frustrating to sieve through hundreds of results to find a handful of mentions, some of which already have links. With SEMrush, you can filter out the noise using their additional targeting features. For example, if you’re tracking mentions of John Smith, you don’t want to see mentions for the UK based Kenyan professor of the same name who has published & contributed to various books and articles, so you’d either only include articles that also mention specific keywords, or you’d exclude articles mentioning John Smith and the word Professor, or the names of some of the Professor’s publications. You can include & exclude up to 5 keywords so with a little tweaking, you’ll only receive the mentions that are relevant to your company.

Here’s the screen in SEMrush where you can target the mentions that you want to get notified about.

SEMrush Screen

Not all brand monitoring tools are paid. Some of the free ones are pretty good. Here’s two that I’ve used, and found useful:

Pro Tip: If you don’t have access to the paid tools, use the free trials of the paid software to find out what unlinked mentions are currently out there. The paid tools usually find more unlinked mentions than the free software.

Once you’ve set up your brand monitoring alerts, and received the list of sites mentioning you, without linking to you, you can reach out to the author or webmaster asking for a link back to your website. These are the warmest link-building leads you’re likely to ever get.

Also, it’s an opportunity to begin a relationship with the site you’re reaching out to. When you reach out, make sure to thank them for their feedback and ask them if there’s anything else that you can do for them. It may lead to some guest posting opportunities for you, or it may mean that the author you’re reaching out to will be more inclined to write about you again in the future.

Keep a list of anybody who writes about you and the publications it appears in. When you write a piece of content that might interest them (for example, you release a whitepaper or launch an annual index or maybe even conduct an interview with somebody very relevant to your niche), you have an opening to make them aware of it.

If you’ve a huge event, or a big promotion coming up, you could also offer it to your list under embargo, a few days in advance. They can then release a piece on it the day that your promotion goes public. It gives them a scoop on the story, and it gives you a lot of extra exposure.

My final tip in relation to monitoring brand mentions is don’t forget about your competitors. Track where they’re being mentioned, also. If a site mentions them, they’ll likely be open to mentioning you, too.

Thanks for reading.
Colm O'Sullivan
Colm O’Sullivan, AIM

P.S. If you’re interested in hearing more about our reputation management services, or want to avail of our new promo driven search service please reach out to schedule a call.