Monitoring Your Brand: What Data You Should Be Collecting

Social media and news monitoring is not a new concept. Companies have long known that, in order to understand and shape the conversation surrounding their brand, they need to know what’s being said online and in print. However, as the digital media ecosystem has expanded and grown more complex, it’s no longer sufficient for companies to simply grab the headlines or calculate the total number of mentions on Twitter. There’s a whole wealth of information out there when it comes to public conversations about brands, and it’s critical that the companies behind them are equipped to collect this data and interpret it.

Here are some of the biggest data points you should be collecting--and what they mean. 

The Bigger Picture: Moving from Mentions to Narratives 

An isolated Tweet or a single blogpost isn’t going to tell you much about your brand, particularly amidst a 24/7 news cycle. Neither will a list of headlines or placements in external media. Stats like this may give you an idea of what a select few are saying about your brand or to what extent or perhaps how successful a campaign has been, but they don’t provide any insights into the overall discussion that’s taking place. That’s why companies need to look at brand narratives.

PeakMetrics defines a narrative as any conversation or overarching story surrounding a topic, person, company or brand that emerges online and over time. In other words, it’s about analyzing a collection of data points as a whole--for example, multiple social media posts that share a common theme--rather than looking at media mentions in isolation.

Narratives have immense power for a brand. In fact, a negative narrative--that the bank was on the verge of collapse-- contributed to Silicon Valley Bank’s downfall. However, if people just read one or two news stories or saw a single Tweet, it would have been easy to miss the bigger picture. For example, many people noted that Peter Thiel, a prominent venture capitalist, had told his companies to pull out of SVB. However, what was more important for the bank to know is that multiple, prominent tech experts were issuing this recommendation, creating a broader narrative about the bank’s financial state. Arguably, if the company had a better grasp on the overall conversation surrounding the bank’s recent financial reportings, they may have been able to avert the crisis that unfolded. 

Of course, just knowing what the narratives are isn’t enough. There is additional data to collect surrounding those narratives.

Tracking the Origin 

Companies need to know not only what a narrative is but where a narrative originates. Only then can a proper strategy be crafted. Is a narrative appearing on a fringe blog site with a small following or a mainstream news website? Was there a Tweet by a major influencer or someone with just a few followers? In the case of SVB, the problem wasn’t that random clients were panicking about the bank’s financial standing but that prominent investors and journalists were worried. Who was tweeting gave the narrative its power. 

In addition, brands have different audiences. If a negative narrative is spreading across outlets that are not relevant to the company, then perhaps no crisis response is warranted. If, however, a negative narrative is picking up steam amidst your core audience, then an intervention may be necessary. And, in order to squash a narrative, you need to be able to go directly to the source.

A tool like PeakMetrics can help customers conceptualize the source or context of the narrative by flagging those sites that are common for spreading misinformation, as well as illuminating whether the website is left or right leaning for a better understanding of the targeted audience.

Understanding and Predicting Timeline

When did a narrative first appear? When did it peak? Has it reappeared? Narratives, once within the public space, may never truly disappear--and that’s why it’s important to monitor how they ebb and flow within the public discussion. The calls to ban TikTok and the subsequent Congressional hearing in March, didn’t appear overnight. Arguably, the story began back in 2022 with several stories about the companies’ China ties, and a major turning point was the revelation that the company has been using the app to spy on U.S. journalists. This narrative would reappear as relationships with China soured and more accusations against TikTok emerged. And, arguably, the downfall of SVB was spurred on by concerns surrounding the Silvergate.

Narratives can intersect and build off one another, meaning a timeline of a narrative provides important context for responding to future crises or understanding seemingly new brand stories as they emerge.

Narrative Volume

Is it a fringe narrative that is quickly dying off or an ongoing conversation that may need continued damage control? This is where the total number of mentions of a narrative comes in. 

It offers a quick way to measure whether or not a narrative is truly making waves within the public discourse or can simply be ignored.

Other Contextual Information

While narratives, and their related statistics, are critical in today’s media environment, they are not the only data points companies should be collecting. Below are a few more statistics for gaining a fuller picture of online conversations.

Brand Sentiment

Not all media mentions are created equally. Some may be negative towards your brand, while others are positive. And, most of the time, brands need to know whether or not the positives outweigh the negatives. That’s where brand sentiment comes in. Tools like PeakMetrics can offer a quick, easy-to-interpret depiction of a media mention’s brand sentiment. 

A List of Media Mentions 

While a full list of where your brand has been mentioned or a collection of headlines isn’t enough to understand the full conversation surrounding your brand, they’re still important data points to have. Brands still need to know to what extent they’re present in the public discourse or whether, say, an advertising campaign, made any sort of impact. There may be multiple narratives surrounding a company at any one time, but if those narratives have only emerged from the same handful of publications, then that may be a sign that you haven’t succeeded in getting your message across. That means, even if you understand the narratives, you’re still going to need that full list of all the mentions of your brand across online and print publications.

Website Credibility 

With any narrative or headline it’s important to understand context--and that includes information about where an article is published. Is the source of the article credible? Is the publication known to spread fake news? Will the company make a correction? This information is critical from a crisis communications standpoint because it allows brands to hone in on articles that may be problematic for the brand--and move quickly to respond to them. 

PeakMetric integrates with NewsGuard, which provides detailed analyses about the overall reliability and integrity of thousands of news and information sources. 

Where to Get Started 

The first step to gaining a better understanding of your brand’s reputation is gathering the right data. And to gain the right data--including the data above--you need to find the right tool. Companies need a media monitoring partner that offers insights into the full context surrounding their brand, rather than a set of disparate data points and mentions. 

Once you have a tool in place, the next step is collecting the data as it relates to key moments or events for your company. In doing so, you can create a plan for guaranteeing your customers are talking about your brand the way you want them to. 

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