Definition: A mention is when a brand is referenced, or "mentioned" on the web. While often referring exclusively to social media, mentions can also describe anytime an online publication or blog uses a brand name. Mentions are an informative metric to help online businesses gauge how the perception and visibility of their brand.

Mentions encompass PR, social media, SEO, and overall brand awareness & popularity. When a business is tagged on Facebook, tweeted at, or linked to, it is factored into the brand's organic search value. Positive SEO leads to increased visibility, which can then prompt more mentions and further increased SEO value. This positive feedback loop is one of the key ways that popular brands explode seemingly overnight.

How to track mentions

While it's nearly impossible to keep track of every single mention, there are multiple tools and services that can give businesses a good directional indication of how their brand is performing. both free and paid monitoring apps which will find mentions and aggregate them automatically.

  • Google Alerts is the most widely known free service. It is a blunt tool and doesn't monitor social media, but it's a good place for small businesses just beginning their social media and online marketing campaigns. In essence, Google alerts monitors the Google search engine for your chosen keywords and puts all of the results in one place.
  • There are also more advanced free tools such as Hootsuite, Icerocket, Social Mentions, Topsy and SumAll. These services monitor both social media and the more general Internet, taking into account social signals as well as mentions. Each service has a slightly different focus and will return different information. Do some research to figure out which one has the features you need.

As your brand grows, getting more detail and professional analysis may be warranted. What all of these platforms have in common is their reliance on keywords. The information you get back is only as good as the keywords you input into the app. In every case, you should use multiple keyword searches to cover your brand from multiple angles.

  • Use your brand name of course, but also include abbreviations, misspellings or common variations.
  • Search for mottos, slogans or key phrases used in your marketing.
  • Keywords which refer to your industry as a whole
  • The names of key personnel: owners, management, popular employees - including alternates and misspellings thereof.

Interpreting and responding to mentions

Monitoring apps don't just show mentions as abstract numbers, they provide links to individual mentions. When you see mentions that are either very good or very negative, examine who is making the comment. If that person has ten followers, you may not need to respond, if he or she has 10,000, you definitely should. Find mentions on high volume sites or from popular Internet taste-makers and engage.

  • Find the active hotspots where your brand is being discussed and join in the conversation.
  • Listen to critique, no matter how extreme, and treat it as an opportunity to correct.
  • Once you have monitoring in place, check the results frequently.
  • Don't try to control or censor the conversation. Be genuine and transparent

Mentions are the best way to monitor the success of your SEO and marketing. Far from being an abstract number, they take the pulse of the internet, allowing you to respond to trends surrounding your brand in almost real time.

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