Building a successful startup hinges on understanding how your target audience perceives your brand. Traditional marketing research can provide valuable insights, but it doesn’t always capture the full picture. This is where media monitoring for startups comes in.

💡Read Media Monitoring: The Ultimate Guide

By harnessing the power of online conversations, media monitoring empowers you to listen in on what your customers are truly saying. It’s like having a constant focus group, providing a wealth of information you can leverage.

In this article, we’ll explore how media monitoring for startups can uncover hidden brand perceptions, identify emerging trends and more.

Understanding Consumer Perception

The first thing we have to address is the importance of proper customer perception.

Sure, when you just start out, you have a vague idea of how you want people to perceive your business. However, this won’t always resonate with reality. Sometimes, your market research process is not accurate, or there are changes in the circumstances. That’s why you should go through proof of concept (check the POC meaning). Then, there are instances where your plan is a really good one, but the execution has some serious flaws.

Just think about Viagra. Originally, it was intended to be a blood pressure medication. However, today, the majority of people are not even aware of this original intention.

As Mike Tyson once said, everyone’s got a plan until they get hit in the mouth. Without media monitoring, you’ll hit the canvas before even realizing that you’ve been hit.

Even if the customer impressions are positive, this praise and appreciation may take some unforeseen directions. For instance, do you really think the creators of My Little Pony ever expected that their most fanatical demographic would be adult males? This is something that no analytical tool could have ever guessed, but a rudimentary media monitoring process could tell right away.

The main reason why you won’t always be able to figure this out theoretically is because you’re not necessarily fitting your own customer profile. Understanding your customers is the first step to making more accurate targeted marketing efforts.

Identifying Opportunities and Brand Mentions

Media monitoring for startups

Have you ever heard of link-building? This is an off-site SEO practice where you boost the rank of your pages by generating high-quality content, publishing it on sites with high domain authority (DA), and linking back to your own pages.

The process is simple, and it boosts your rank by increasing several important metrics. 

  • First of all, these high DA pages usually have decent traffic, which means that a part of that traffic may seep your way. 
  • Provided that the content is high quality and that the anchor text is organic and contextual, those who click will already be qualified leads. This increases the average chance of a high conversion rate and the average visit duration and reduces the potential bounce rate.
  • You also get some reputational benefits by association. These sites have a high DA because they’ve passed a number of algorithmic checks. For them to link back to your site, it would mean that someone of value has recognized your value. It’s an accountability system that search engines take very seriously, even if they don’t talk about it as much.

The bottleneck of this system is the fact that high-quality content is quite expensive and time/effort consuming to produce. Also, it’s sometimes painfully obvious that a marketeer wrote it with marketing purposes in mind. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. However, it does make your audience a bit suspicious about the agenda behind the content.

But what if you could recognize these branded mentions “in the wild.” Someone is mentioning your brand in a positive context in a conversational setup. Just asking them to also link to your brand and add a tag or a hashtag could earn you a free link. Moreover, it adds to the authenticity.

A Chance for an Organic Interaction

All of these things mentioned give you a concrete (technical) boost; however, what about the reputational opportunity? What about a chance to boost your PR? 

We all know that brands are learning to meme. The main reason why this leaves such a strong impression on the target audience is because it’s unexpected. What people are accustomed to is an image of a brand as a massive, formal entity with little to no human traits. People, however, run brands and it’s in their best interest to display their humanized side.

The bar is a lot lower for brands. A meme can be 6/10, but when you see a meme published by a major brand like Wendy’s or McDonald’s, it becomes an instant hit (at least 9/10).

That one guy conversing with Toyota via their social media DMs has gone viral. Why? Well, because it’s an example of a multi-billion dollar conglomerate interacting with their customers on a personal level.

Example of organic interaction with customers by a brand, monitorined through media monitoring software

Now, while you can randomly share posts of your customers and respond to them in DMs, what’s wrong with actively seeking brand mentions and actively inserting yourself into the conversation? 

For instance, you could find a Reddit thread praising your brand and thanking the person for their kind words. This is a huge PR boost for your enterprise, and it will leave a lasting impression on everyone going through the thread. After all, you’ve heard their voice even without being addressed directly.

Even if it’s a negative comment, you can mitigate the damage by being gratuitous. This turns bitter critics into avid supporters.

Understanding Gaps in Consumer Knowledge and Awareness

The first stage of your marketing is the customer recognition stage. This is when people can recognize your logo and vaguely understand what it is that you do. This is a transitional stage that’s aimed at hitting a massive populace, but when it comes to your target audience, you want the process to take them into the brand awareness stage quickly.

Hare, they know more about your business and your brand. This develops over multiple interactions, continuous purchases and interactions with your products, and consuming your content. The problem is that it’s a bit voluntary and random. They acquire knowledge at their own pace.

Determ analyzes hashtags, phrases and emojis most used in regards to a topic, giving insight into words customers use most online.
Determ analyzes hashtags, phrases and emojis most used in regards to a topic, giving insight into words customers use most online.

This is why, from time to time, you want to collect customer feedback by “quizzing” them. You want to see what they know. If there are any gaps in their knowledge or lack of awareness of a certain service or a product that you hav), you need to update them. If there are any misconceptions about your brand, you want to clear things out before things get out of hand.

Needless to say, this should also play a part in your content marketing strategy.

Where does media monitoring for startups belong in the relation to customers?

At the beginning of this section, we talked about the difference between customer recognition and customer awareness. The thing is that, without a media monitoring process, you won’t even be able to tell for sure how many of your customers are in which of these stages.

The line between brand awareness and brand recognition is blurrier than you think. It’s not a single piece of information, a single interaction, or a single day in which one transposes from knowing a bit about your business to knowing everything there is to know.

You need to track progression and the rate at which consumers are transitioning from one stage to another.

Analyzing Consumer Sentiment and Associations

Marketing is a deeply emotional thing. You’re not selling a product; you’re selling an idea. With that in mind, what you really want to focus on is the importance of analyzing customer sentiment and associations.

Once your brand is live, it’s out there. People will discuss it and create content about it. And generating comments and micro-reviews is a great form of user-generated content.

Your brand will live a life of its own with little regard for the direction that you want to take it in. Here is where startups can benefit from media monitoring because they get to analyze the sentiment of their brand, campaigns, trends, key people and so much more. This information is then used to plan out your next moves.

Sentiment analysis is an important part of media monitoring for startups
Determ analyzes the sentiment ratio of a topic and how sentiment is distributed across different sources.

However, the problem is that it’s not necessarily just about your actions. Sometimes, your inaction is noted, as well. Perhaps you’re slow to innovate or put too much effort into a feature that the majority of the industry sees as a gimmick. Being an early adopter is not always a positive thing.

Then, if there’s a major issue within the industry and you fail to comment on it, your silence will be interpreted both by your fans and your critics. Naturally, sometimes it’s best to stay silent, but you need to understand the narrative in order to control it. 

People who do talk about you usually talk about other things, as well. What they discuss are various market trends. Now, as we’ve said early on – you’re not necessarily your target audience. This is why you base all your conclusions on your own perception. There’s nothing wrong with employing a bit of critical thinking into the mix, but when it comes to understanding which trends are relevant for your brand, you have to be certain. 

When just reading reports, you’re usually reading the words of the development team. In this scenario, everything was made so that it represents the absolute best version of itself. 

Analyzing mentions, impressions and sources distribution is important when employing media monitoring for startups
Determ analyzes mentions, impressions and sources distribution of topics, giving insight into its popularity online.

Using social listening to understand what your audience has to say helps you learn what your target demographic is really looking for. How much do they care about the price, and how much are they willing to pay? Is there a feature that someone is offering that’s such a strong USP that they are ready to switch from the platform that they’ve been using for years and years in the past?

However, picking up market trends isn’t necessarily an exact science, and it won’t work every time. There were a lot of people prophesying that the internet would not be a big deal in the future, as well as those who could bet everything theft owned on a trend that eventually went nowhere.

One more thing worth mentioning is that you want to look out for your competitors. How well do they fare against your enterprise? How ready are they to embrace new trends? This is where media monitoring for startups also comes in hand because it helps benchmark against your competitors.

Wrap Up

Ultimately, media monitoring for startups is a challenging task but a necessary one. You need the insights that regular analytics just cannot provide. You also need to identify the right opportunities and find out what your audience really thinks about your product. The only way to get the authentic, unaltered answer is to actually listen to what they say when they don’t expect you to hear.

Other than this, you can learn quite a bit about the market, the competitors, and even the latest trends by actively monitoring. The reason why this is especially a great idea for startups is that the costs are low, and the ROI is truly amazing.

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