Brandwatch: How to monitor your social media performance

Hi Giles, what's the Brandwatch story? 

Brandwatch is one of the world’s leading social media listening and analytics technology platforms. Headquartered in Brighton, the company was founded in 2007.

Today, conversations on social media are massive indicators of consumer influence, market insights and brand reputations. So for companies to know what, why and where discussions are taking place surrounding their brand or market is imperative – the problem often lies in being able to cut through all the online noise and listen in only on the conversation that matters. Brandwatch Analytics technology is designed to do exactly this. 

What’s the USP?

Put simply, Brandwatch does more – more to take away the real pain of working with social media data, helping companies find more conversations about their brand or market online, in real-time. By using fast crawlers, best band detection and more filters than any platform in the market, Brandwatch gives customers the highest quality data combined with the ability to slice and dice it as they need. 

Working with social media data can also be tricky so we provide full support through direct help within the application, 24/7 phone support and a support portal – all to make it easier for Brandwatch users. I know from experience that working with software applications can be hugely frustrating and that because of this, people consider software a necessary evil. Our mission is to empower our customers; we want people to love using Brandwatch. 

What is the importance of startups monitoring their social media performance?

The way your brand is being discussed and viewed is just as important, perhaps even more so, when a business is first getting started in the market. As the ‘new kid’ you need to ensure that you are monitoring what is being said about your business (and your competition) if you want to gain an edge and build a loyal customer base. 

The first question you have to ask yourself therefore is where are your customers represented online? Does your target market prefer Facebook to Twitter, for example? Or perhaps online forums are more their style. In fact, are they online at all? You can’t hear what they are saying and respond to actionable mentions if you are looking in the wrong places! 

The good news is that social media offers you access to a massive audience that are willing to give your startup feedback and insights for free. All you need to do is listen. Paying attention to how your audience interacts with one another and other brands can help guide your startup and show you how best to engage, to best capture their attention and business. 

How does your service work?

Brandwatch harvests millions of online conversations every day and provides clients with the tools to analyse them, empowering brands and agencies across the globe to make smarter, data-driven business decisions. 

Our web-crawlers inspect every corner of the social web to find the data your business is interested in, then constantly revisit all those sources to check for new data as it is generated. We crawl over 70 million publically accessible sources every single day, including blogs, forums, news sites and, of course, all major social networks across the world. Brandwatch can also identify and deliver you conversations in over 27 languages, and we’re constantly adding more to our crawling capabilities.

Through filtering and Boolean search queries, our users can pinpoint highly specific conversations that relate to exactly what they are looking for – be it a topic, tracking an event or campaign, or checking out what’s being said in ‘white-space conversations’ that are related to your brand without specifically mentioning you or your competitors. 

There’s a feeling amongst small businesses that you can put a lot of time into social media but with little reward, how do you feel about this?

When it comes to social media, I think you reap what you sow. If you as a person, are active on social media, it’s likely that the promotion of recent news from your startup will come as second nature to you. But in order to maximize the reward from your efforts you do need to put in the ground research. 

Before you dive into posting on social media for your startup, you first need to identify which are the most relevant networks. Once you have created a presence you also need to be committed to it. There is no point in creating a Twitter account for your business, only posting once a month and rarely replying to inquiries. 

Another tip, don’t assume that your audience will stay the same; you need to make sure that your business continues to engage and communicate with the audience as the relationship grows. When it comes to social media and customer service there is also a fine line between focusing all your time on being responsive to the queries/concerns that are raised and equally figuring out why those comments have been made so you can adapt your business model to ensure they do not happen again. One of the benefits of being a startup is that you have the flexibility to be responsive and change as and when is needed.

How have you guys grown?

Our first web crawler was commissioned by the UK government and built from scratch. That was back in 2005, when Facebook hadn’t graduated from Harvard and Twitter had yet to leave the nest. In 2007, Brandwatch 1.0 launched; six months later we moved to the next level and the pace of evolution has continued to accelerate. 

We’re growing exponentially, adding new staffers to the Brandwatch family taking our total to over 200 employees across five offices around the world. We have continued to expand and improve our technical capabilities ever since, focusing on investing in our technology as a priority. 

How did the expansion to Europe and America come about?

Between 2009 and 2010, subscription revenue rose 150% with clients coming on board at an astonishing rate. We were rapidly expanding and decided to look further afield from our sunny Brighton location and head into Continental Europe and New York. Our growth has continued to increase and allow us to open up more offices in the US; with New York office launched in 2012 and in January 2014 we added the latest dot to our map in San Francisco.

How important is brand consistency and engagement for startup companies to succeed with their social media strategy?

Once a brand vision is established, it’s vital to continuously infiltrate the industry with your startup message. Regularly referring back to your message is a way to let clients, competitors, and your industry as a whole know who you are and what you do. With so much competition out there you need to make it as simple for your customers to understand your business. 

In terms of actual engagement – my number one piece of advice would be to make sure your responses are timely and above all, to use a human tone – you’re not a robot, why communicate like one? A best practice is to respond within an hour to a customer question/issue, and within one day for a more general mention (such as a “thanks for the RT).

What is the most important piece of advice you would give a company to improve their usage of social media?

You can’t have social media activity without social media strategy. Before the first post gets Tweeted, Instagrammed, or posted on LinkedIn, create a social media strategy. To do that, startups need to think about the following questions:

  • What type of company do we want to be? 
  • What’s our personality? Are we quirky, controversial, or more corporate?
  • Do we want to entertain, educate, or question?
  • Are we dedicated to responding quickly to customers? 
  • Should we hire a dedicated community manager to post, engage, and manage our social media presence?

Do you think that social media is more important than real life offline networking - or is there a place for the two to work in synergy?

Social media is becoming even more important than offline networking. What someone says online about us or our brand can quickly become viral – for better or for worse. We’re in a culture of Yelp reviews, LinkedIn recommendations and image ‘likes.’ Soon what people say about us will be more powerful than what we say about ourselves. 

The correlation between “in real life” and online networking is vital. If you meet someone at a networking event, immediately following each other and connecting on Twitter, LinkedIn, and the like is paramount to continuing communication, researching what they and their company are all about, and leveraging them as a potential influencer. 

Want to know more about Brandwatch? You can follow them on Twitter, like their Facebook page or check out their YouTube channel 

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