SMToolbox: Monitor the Conversations That Matter with Brandwatch Social Analytics


smtoolbox review of brandwatch social

Social media monitoring is a key task for all organizations, whether big or small. Companies need to know what consumers are saying about their brand, products and services as much as they need to know the company’s share price or financial performance. How do you monitor conversations that are important to your business? This week in the SMToolbox, we take a look at how Brandwatch can help you monitor, listen to and engage in the conversations that matter.

Brighton is one of the most innovative digital cities in the UK and home to many creative start ups. Brandwatch is a company that grew out of this creative digital community to become a global player in the world of social media monitoring. The team recently opened their latest office in San Francisco.

Brandwatch was one of the first companies to recognize the potential and power of social media monitoring. They built their first product back in 2007 and had their first customer in 2008. This early start and the experience the team have gained is evident in the sophisticated monitoring platform they have built.

Monitoring Social Conversations

Brandwatch has been built to monitor and listen to conversations across the web. Brandwatch collects data from many millions of sources, including Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, websites, news sites, blogs and forums. They then allow you to slice and dice this data to find very specific conversations or mentions that matter to your business. 

It is the agility and flexibility of the tool which immediately strikes you. You can monitor in very precise ways such as:

  • monitoring for negative mentions of a particular product in one of 27 languages in a particular location

  • listening for conversations where a potential customer is expressing a need or asking for help

  • monitoring the topics around your brand being discussed by women or by people in particular professions or with particular interests

Brandwatch allows you to analyze the data in many different ways: you can create charts, filter lists, create word clouds or set up email alerts for mentions that meet your specified criteria.

Creating a Project in Brandwatch

You start by creating a project in Brandwatch that can relate to your company, a product or a topic — in essence, anything you want to monitor. You then set up a query or add a channel.

A query is basically a web search where you can use a range of advanced operators. This acts liked a saved search and generates data for your dashboard. The advanced operators let you narrow down your query to ensure it is targeted and relevant. A channel is a public profile on Twitter or Facebook. You can track your own profiles or that of competitors or compare them. Finally, you can group queries and channels to compare them and assess factors like share of voice.

Brandwatch Dashboards

Once you have set up your project, you can start to have fun. For each query or channel, you get a dashboard and a summary screen such as the one below:

brandwatch dashboard

This dashboard analyzes all mentions for my query for ‘Kineo’ (an elearning company) across Twitter, Facebook and a wide range of websites such as blogs and forums. The summary shows me where the mentions came from, the sentiment and the volumes over time. On the volume chart at the bottom, you can click on any day to bring up the mentions on that day. I should add at this point that Brandwatch works in 27 languages and assesses sentiment in all 27 languages.

brandwatch tabs

In each dashboard there are 6 default top tabs, as shown above. You can also create further top tabs by adding components or you can alternatively add these components to the bottom of each page in the dashboard. For example, I added a demographics component to the bottom of my summary page, which created the additional data below.

brandwatch demographics

The demographics component shows me the split of mentions by gender. It also shows me the interests of those mentioning Kineo, their profession and their location.

The second default tab, ‘Top Sites,’ gives me more information on the sites where the mentions took place and the top news sites where a mention occurs. Brandwatch claim to crawl over 70m sources daily, but if there are specific sites you want included they will add them for you.

The third tab, ‘Authors,’ gives you detailed information about the authors. It shows you at a glance the number of mentions, the sentiment, the number of followers and Brandwatch scores for their influence and outreach potential. See the image below.

brandwatch authors

The next tab is ‘Topics’. This provides a simple word cloud of the most used topic names and allows you to click on each word to drill down to the the actual mentions of that topic.

brandwatch topics

The next tab, ‘Charts,’ provides you with a number of very useful charts. I particularly liked the one below. It doesn’t simply show the volume of mentions, but where the mentions came from. The light blue blocks are Twitter, the red blocks are news sites, the dark blue blocks are Facebook and the green blocks are forums.

brandwatch chart

Thus you can very quickly see where mentions are taking place. You can also click any block to instantly view the mentions and the source website if appropriate.

The final default tab, ‘Mentions,’ provides you with each mention in list format, showing the sentiment and impact; below is an example for mentions of ‘BuzzSumo’. You can re-sort this list for example by those mentions with the most impact.

brandwatch mentions

There are many additional features and components that allow you to analyze the data in your dashboard, far too many for me to mention in this post. Below, for example, is a gender analysis. This shows the topics mentioned by gender, with the topics more frequently mentioned by women on the left and the topics more frequently mentioned by men on the right. It also shows the top male and female authors.

brandwatch gender

Brandwatch Alerts

brandwatch alertsThe final feature I want to mention in this review is alerts. In Brandwatch you can set up email alerts that can be sent to anyone inside or outside your organization. 

The alerts give you an indication of the flexibility and power of Brandwatch and how you can slice and dice the data to meet your needs.

You can set up an alert by simply entering the email address and subject line. You can then add filters so that the alert is very precise. You can create an alert for a query or a channel and add a further query or mention.

Thus you might want to set up an alert for say a product and make this more precise by adding the product version, color or flavor.

You can further add any of the filters shown here. Thus you can specify you only want to see negative sentiment mentions; you can specify the source type such as say Twitter, a blog or a forum; you can specify a particular location; and continue to tailor your alert in this way.

This allows you to create very precise alerts for say a particular product, with negative sentiment in a particular region. This could be very useful for brands which get thousands of mentions to allow you to filter out the noise and get to exactly what you are searching for.


Brandwatch aims to be the best in class at what it does. Thus it has a very clear focus and doesn’t try to do everything such as the management and scheduling of posts. The team have integrated with popular tools such as Hootsuite; thus, in Hootsuite you can set up Brandwatch streams with your other Twitter streams and see the data for your Brandwatch queries.


Whether you are an agency, a big brand or a small brand social media monitoring is a key task. Companies cannot ignore the conversations taking place on the web. In a complex world of multiple social networks Brandwatch is a tool that can help you cut through the noise to monitor conversations that are important to your business.

Brandwatch prices start at around $ 750 a month for unlimited users, training, support and 10,000 mentions a month.

Want to explore the tool for yourself? You can get free demo access to Brandwatch by filling in the form here

Do you use Brandwatch? I would love to get your feedback.

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