Four Sources of Brand Intel You Can’t Afford to Miss

Monitoring your brand’s Facebook page for comments is a great way to gauge what your customers are feeling about your products and services. One of the great (and simultaneously awful) aspects of social media is that they tend to inspire honesty.

But comments on your social pages provide a biased picture of how people perceive your brand for two reasons. One, they’re coming from people who have chosen to engage with your business. We can assume they’re mostly fans intermixed with the occasional visiting crank. Two, the commenters are writing directly to you. As a result, listening to Facebook is like gathering comments from family and friends. They may know you best, but wouldn’t you like to know what the rest of the world thinks of you?

The following sources provide intelligence of a different sort. They’re places where you’ll find out what people are saying about you when you’re not “in the room.” They’re comments about you, not for you, from people who may or may not be fans.

Reviews

Reviews on ecommerce sites such as Amazon and on dedicated review sites such as Trip Advisor are an invaluable resource for marketers. They have several advantages:

1. They’re highly structured, using consistent rating systems and criteria.

2. They sample a large, public audience.

3. Many sites verify purchases to ensure accuracy and neutrality.

4. The writers are writing for peers—not for the businesses they’re reviewing.

Monitoring every review site where people are posting about your industry is a terrific way to find out what people are saying about you—and maybe more importantly, your competitors.

Forums

Another great source of brand “chatter” that we regularly monitor for clients is dedicated forums. Because there are so many, sorting through them can take a bit of time, but the results are worth it. For example, in construction alone there are myriad forums, some dedicated to DIYers, others to professionals, many covering a specific product or trade. What’s great about forums is that the comments posted are even more neutral than reviews because people post to them for peer consultation and help. They aren’t writing with the intention of rating you. Forums are probably the purest and most underused source of marketing intelligence out there.

Blogs

The blogosphere is also a rich source of brand intelligence for marketers. Like your own social pages, they represent a biased set of results depending on the audience and the purpose of the blog. Many blogs have social or political agendas; others exist primarily to advertise. Every blog has a different audience and dynamic that affects the comments. But blogs are a highly influential source that should be part of any effective “listening” program.

Comments

Finally, visitor comments on all of the above venues as well as on news sites and other websites are another invaluable source of marketing intelligence. Like Facebook posts, comments on blogs and news articles suffer from bias. The commenters are people with strong opinions, whether good or bad, and they’re writing with the intention of taking a public stance. In addition, every website draws a specific audience that may or may not represent the population at large. Again, that doesn’t make it bad intelligence, it’s just intelligence with a specific context.

Being a Good Listener

The great thing about search engines is that they make it easy to collect comments from all of these sources with a simple search of your brand name. I recommend doing a comprehensive search and then running periodic updates with the date filtered to eliminate prior responses. Regularly searching your brand name for any mentions in the past 24 hours or week is an excellent way to monitor online chatter. Searching competitors’ brands is another great way to get marketing insights.

In addition, frequenting forums, blogs and review sites that are most relevant to your brand will give you a great picture of what people are saying about you when you’re not around. And that’s essential to getting the results you want from your next marketing effort.

If you want some help gathering intelligence or tailoring your marketing efforts to match, talk to us about a free consultation and quote today.

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