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11.3 The Second Step: Measure What’s Being Said by Whom

Learning Objective

  1. Understand how to analyze what is being said online.

As a marketer, the first step in looking at who is saying what is to take stock of the messages being sent by your own company. This includes all Web sites and domains owned by a company, all blogs maintained by employees (whether company blogs or personal blogs), and all blogs maintained by former employees. An audit should give an idea of the content that is available to the public and what that content is saying.

With regular RSS updates declaring that selected keywords have been used in some form of social media, a growing list is being created of mentions surrounding a brand. Now what?

Even in the democratized world of the Internet, not all mentions are equal. They vary in terms of positivity or negativity and influence. Not all mentions require action from a company, but some require drastic measures to be taken. But all, no matter how quiet or how loud, are an indication of consumer sentiment.

Whether a post is positive, negative, or indifferent can be quickly assessed by reading it. Influence can be a little harder to establish.

Indicators such as traffic, links, and subscriber numbers can all assist in assessing the influence of a blog. There are also services such as Social Meter ( that will show an entered URL’s audience and reach.

However, statements, particularly inflammatory ones, should still be monitored, as traffic can increase substantially and quickly online.

Influence can also assist in establishing the credibility of the author. Factors that can indicate credibility include the size of the blog’s audience, the frequency of posts, and the age of the blog. From this, metrics such as credibility, sentiment, and media distribution can be extrapolated. Furthermore, metrics such as reputation scores and volume of conversation provide insight into the health of a brand and the success of marketing and communication campaigns.

The source should also be looked at: is the mention a news item or a tag on a photo from someone’s holiday? The first would be a credible source, but the second would not be high in credibility.

To be able to monitor reputation over time, it can be a good idea to aggregate the information into a spreadsheet or database along with the factors mentioned previously. It is necessary to determine what is important to the reputation of the company you are monitoring and perhaps adapt factors accordingly.

Your database might look something like this:

Figure 11.2

There are also a number of paid-for services on the market that will assist in monitoring and aggregating this information.

BrandsEyeOnline reputation management (ORM) software, developed by Quirk eMarketing, that allows for real-time monitoring of a brand on the Web. BrandsEye combines human subjectivity with sophisticated technology, allowing the quantifying and benchmarking of online reputation. ( is a tool launched in 2008 that does just that. Not only does it track mentions, but it also allows the user to assign sentiment and importance to mentions and provides a benchmark of a brand’s reputation. Trackur ( is another tool that monitors the volume of mentions but provides limited analysis.

Key Takeaways

  • Not all mentions are equal online. They may vary in terms of positivity or negativity.
  • Posts that are positive, negative, or indifferent can be quickly assessed by reading them. But influence can be harder to establish.
  • Statements, especially inflammatory ones, should be monitored, as traffic can increase substantially and quickly online.
  • ORM can help a company to gain an inherent understanding of how consumers perceive and interact with their brand and thus can provide a platform for planning marketing campaigns.
  • ORM should monitor all mentions of a brand and guide a brand in using social media to communicate. It can help identify hot spots for viral word-of-mouth marketing and should be used to ensure that that word of mouth is positive. ORM should also be used for determining the success of any marketing campaign that is not directly related to sales. It can show growing brand recognition as well as consumer sentiment.


  1. Using the tools listed in this section, pick a brand of your choice and monitor it for a period of one week or more. See what you learn about the brand. Observe what people say and how they say it. Observe if the brand talks back and, if they do, what they say.