This review originally was published on January 14, 2021, with the email subject line CT No. 80: "Own that brand!," alongside a 5-step guide to winning brand SEO.
From the reputation management freebies like Google Alerts* to social listening tools that cost more than an entry-level journalist's salary, good media monitoring software is tricky to find and harder to hold down. The free tools are often short-lived because they waste so much power and make no money. No one, least of all the customer service reps, knows how to use the astronomically expensive ones for meaningful insights.**
Media and brand monitoring software can also be troublesome when scaling down to the individual mention level: either the software doesn't provide full context of the mention or it takes forever to load. Features are more focused on sentiment analysis (never accurate without extensive filtering on an individual level) and word clouds (please god no). Some still only focus on social channels, rather than the far broader conversation. It can be hard to assess where exactly your brand appeared, and in what company.
So for individual brand mentions and safety, paid/earned campaign lift measurement, and general assessment of cross-channel performance, I like Brand24.
**The only Google Alerts I get anymore are to tell me that another Deborah Carver has passed away. It's creepy.
**I have so many stories.
Brand24 at a glance
Brand 24 has been my social listening software of choice for years. It's designed to be focused but thorough, and its price point is affordable for independents, agencies, brands and media organizations. My favorite features:
- low-cost enough that I can build it into my independent practice
- clear data: I know what I'm looking at (with caveats, mentioned below)
- lots of levels and balances like I'm tuning a stereo
- a la carte pricing for additional brand mentions and keywords, so you're not locked into buying more than you need
- recently added newsletter and podcast monitoring
- provides some historical data for benchmarking
Please keep in mind: I work primarily with B2B or small B2C brands. I've never needed to measure a Coke or a McDonald's or take the global temperature around any member of the British royal family. I don't work with TikTok, whose measurement at scale is a whole 'nother beast. Brand24's basic 5,000 mentions/month plan is enough for my small-scale clients and bootstrapped business.
But even with only 5,000 mentions, you can get pretty deep in understanding how your brand is discussed or excavating hashtags for trend research. Upgrades add many multiple more mentions if you want to scale up.
The quality of individual mention data is high, and the tool found both a podcast where a friend mentioned Content Technologist, along with some light brand lift from my recent ad sponsorship. Brand24 filters out most garbage on its own, but you can set your own filters.
Like many analytics tools, not every metric in Brand24 is worth your time. Their influence scores and reach metrics are way over-inflated—just as all reach metrics from Nielsen, ComScore, Facebook, and media companies are extremely rough estimates of trends, often poorly calculated.
But for its core purpose—exploring individual mentions and visualizing overall lift—Brand24 is a fantastic social listening software for measuring impact and trends.