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The Complete Guide to Brand Mentions

In today's hyper-connected world, brand mentions — the modern age’s version of word-of-mouth — have emerged as a compelling barometer of your company's brand reputation and visibility. They’re more than just customers name-dropping your product. They’re powerful indicators of your brand equity, status and health.

The meaning of brand mentions is also evolving along with the digital transformation. So, let’s talk about what brand mentions are, why they’re important and why you need to take a deeper dive into what they really mean in order to stand out in the overcrowded digital landscape.

What Are Brand Mentions?

Brand mentions are any instances where a business or its products and services are referenced on a digital platform, including social media, blogs, review websites, news articles and online forums.

So, what are some examples of brand mentions? Let’s break down the definition of brand mentions into two categories with examples:

  • Direct brand mentions involve explicit references to your brand name. This could be a Twitter post about your excellent (or poor) customer service, a positive (or negative) review of your product, or a news article covering your latest product launch.
  • Indirect brand mentions are references to your brand without mentioning it by name. This includes misspellings of your brand name, references to your products only (e.g. “iPhone” with no mention of “Apple”) or use of your tagline or advertising slogans without your brand name (e.g. “Think Different”).

To get a full picture of where you stand, brand mention monitoring should include both categories. 

Why Are Brand Mentions Important?

Brand mentions provide important information about who is aware of your brand and how they feel about it. They can help you predict who might convert, become a loyal customer or refer others to your brand. They can even impact sales directly: Those new shoes you had to have, that café that makes irresistible cookies or that new spot in Mexico that just made your bucket list might have been posted on your social media. In fact, research shows 80 percent of consumers have purchased products in direct response to social media content. Here are the biggest reasons brand mentions matter.

Brand Mentions Increase Brand Awareness

According to our 2023 Global Comms Report, 54% of communications industry leaders said that “building sustainable growth and value for the brand” was a priority for their organization. One way to do that is through brand awareness. Each mention of your brand broadens your online footprint, amplifying your presence to reach an increasingly larger audience. Consider each brand mention a beacon, shining your brand’s light onto potential customers. This exposure boosts your brand awareness, keeping your brand top-of-mind for consumers.

Brand Mentions Reveal Public Opinion

Not all brand awareness is good. Sometimes you need to manage your reputation. By keeping tabs on brand mentions, you get a real-time pulse on public opinion about your brand. Leveraging social listening tools to identify brand mentions gives you the ability to “listen in” across social media channels in real-time to understand what people are saying about your brand. This allows you to promptly address negative sentiments and capitalize on good vibes, helping shape a positive brand image and providing valuable insights into potential marketing strategies. This kind of online reputation management is critical for the long-term health of your brand equity.

Brand Mentions Provide Social Proof

We’ve all asked a friend or family member for a recommendation. That’s called “social proof,” and the online version of it includes testimonials, reviews and even unboxing videos. When prospective customers see others complimenting or discussing your brand with a positive mention, it boosts your brand’s credibility. And one Salsify survey found that 46% of U.S. consumers will pay more for a brand they trust.

Brand Mentions Inform Strategy

The “ability to respond to changing dynamics and opportunities in a timely manner” was also a top priority for respondents in our Global Comms Report, at 46%, while “crisis preparedness, response, and execution” came in at 34%. Both of these concerns speak to one of the biggest benefits of brand mention monitoring: Staying ahead of crises. It can also inform strategies like influencer marketing and journalist outreach, helping you find potential collaborators.

Brand mentions are crucial tools that shape your digital image, influence customer behavior and build or break down trust. But to really leverage them to control your online presence, you need to go even deeper.

Beyond Brand Mentions: Brand Sentiment

The definition of brand mentions is straightforward. It’s even right there in the name. But brand mentions alone are just the tip of the iceberg. To really leverage them, you need to put them in context. You need to know who is talking (customers or competitors), what they’re talking about (your customer service, product, news or something else) and what they’re saying (love it, hate it, neutral or just reciting the facts).

All that context adds up to brand sentiment: that is, how people feel about your brand. But to truly understand sentiment, you need to go even further. Solutions powered by artificial intelligence (AI) – like Cision’s new Stance technology, which will be released later this year – can take a deeper dive into the context of brand mentions, giving you a better understanding of the larger narrative around your brand. That’s why turning brand mentions into actionable insights starts with monitoring, but needs to go beyond traditional tools.

Brand Mention Monitoring: Going Beyond Sentiment

Listening, analyzing and reacting to what’s being said about your business, and doing it quickly but carefully, is essential to controlling your brand narrative. But keeping track of brand mentions in an endless mountain of status updates, notifications, tweets and online reviews can seem overwhelming – and you’ll also need to monitor offline spaces. This is where traditional brand monitoring tools fall short, and where more comprehensive media monitoring comes to the rescue.

Media monitoring is a multi-faceted approach that tracks and analyzes both brand mentions and brand sentiment across print, radio and television, as well as digital media. It’s a comprehensive answer to the question, “How do I find brand mentions?” Here’s where to look.

Social Media

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, keeping track of social media alone can seem like a lost cause without the right media monitoring solution. And monitoring social media brand mentions isn’t just about gathering data and metrics across social networks; it’s about fostering connections. Whether answering a query, resolving an issue or expressing gratitude for positive feedback, finding and responding to brand mentions on social media enhances your customer relationships and promotes a positive brand image.

Thankfully, social media listening tools can provide real-time alerts when your brand is mentioned, detailed analytics on the sentiment and reach of these mentions, and tools to facilitate swift and effective engagement. Cision’s social media management solution monitors social brand mentions across multiple platforms in a centralized dashboard, allowing you to spot trends, track competitors and respond quickly in real-time.

Review Sites and Forums

Review sites, forums and online communities related to your niche can provide a wealth of information on how customers feel about your brand and your product. In the Salsify survey, 54% of U.S. consumers said they research product quality before they buy, and 32% research consumer opinion. By regularly checking review sites, you can identify brand mentions and gain valuable insights into how your customers view their experience with your brand.

If you’re already using social listening or media monitoring tools, chances are you have access to these types of insights, for a more efficient process. Cision’s social media monitoring tool, for example, includes access to hundreds of online forums and review sites, including Google Reviews, Amazon, CNET, eBay and TrustPilot. Not only does this type of data provide critical insight into your brand, but the faster you can access it, the faster you can respond to help mitigate the effects of negative reviews and keep customers coming back.

Broadcast and Print

Print media is far from dead, and broadcast is evolving quickly from radio and cable TV to podcasts and streaming services. You might think it’s impossible to monitor brand mentions on these channels because of how they’re distributed, especially considering some of the largest online editions of print newspapers are behind paywalls. But you might be surprised.

Today, several media monitoring tools are available that make it easy to capture and analyze brand mentions on these disparate channels. Cision’s broadcast media monitoring solution, for example, gathers data about your brand from over 2 million TV and radio broadcasts each month and 7,000 hours of podcasts each day, while our print monitoring tool gives you access to tens of thousands of local, regional and national newspapers.

Final Thoughts: Maintain Your Brand and Its Reputation

Brand mentions play a vital role in shaping your online presence and reputation. They contribute to brand awareness, visibility and credibility while providing valuable insights into customer sentiments. By actively monitoring and engaging with brand mentions, you can manage your reputation, identify areas of improvement and leverage opportunities for growth.

The ability to stay connected and responsive to the digital conversation about your brand has never been more important. If you want to learn more about how to not only monitor brand mentions, but turn them into opportunities to grow your brand awareness and brand equity, speak to a Cision expert today