PR ON THE GO February 11, 2024

Informed Startup Brand Positioning Through Media Monitoring and Social Listening

Defining a precise niche and brand positioning is crucial, and through media monitoring, along with social listening, you can make informed decisions that can be game-changing.

We've gathered practical advice from PR experts, marketing managers to founders, focusing on how to engage in targeted online discussions and use metrics to refine audience segmentation. Here are the top pieces of advice from industry experts on leveraging these strategies for your startup's success.

  • Social media is highly emotional, which can give you context.
  • Combine media monitoring with content experimentation.
  • Target the right media to deliver your message
  • Identify positioning hypotheses and start testing them
  • Identify conversations around commonly overlooked topics or underserved demographics.
  • Understand the language and tone that resonates with your target audience.
  • Engage in Targeted Online Discussions
  • Craft a Compelling Brand Narrative
  • Respond to Customer Feedback Proactively
  • Differentiate Through Competitive Analysis
  • Align Brand with Platform-Specific Needs
  • Use Metrics to Refine Audience Segmentation

Social media is highly emotional, which can give you context.

Paige Arnof-Fenn, Owner at Mavens & Moguls

"If you don't brand your product/service then the market will position you instead. Creating a positioning statement that explains what benefit you provide for who and how you do it uniquely well is important to stand out from competition. It describes your target buyer/the problem you solve/why you are distinctly different. The process I use for my business and clients is to first define the problem and see if it's worth solving, is there a market willing to pay?

Look at your business from your customer’s perspective. What are you selling/how does your target audience perceive you? What are they looking for/how do you stack up compared to other offerings on the market? What do you offer vs. your competitors? How do you benefit your customers specifically? What do you do well/better than anyone else? If you cannot answer that question quickly then you may not differentiate yourself from the market and may need to find unique space to own in your customers’ mind.

Because we spend so much time on social media it's becoming more important to listen to online conversations to derive sentiments. Social media is highly emotive so there is more context on the source of ideas, complaints, purchase behavior, and macro/micro trends. Using social listening, you can isolate the data you care about and watch for short-term indicators around consumer research to help identify actionable opportunities early. Prospects socially share so much info about their needs/wants/pain points."

Combine media monitoring with content experimentation.

Emily Reynolds-Bergh, Owner at R Public Relations

"Careful media monitoring should be paired with an experimental approach to content. Test various content buckets and see what resonates most with both your audience and those outside your audience. The types of content that gain the most traction might reveal a gap in the market that your brand can fill. Create a tracker in an Excel document or employ a social media management tool to help identify your most successful campaigns."

Target the right media to deliver your message

Julia Voloshchenko, PR Manager at Usetech

"Careful media monitoring is required in several situations:

1) When analyzing competitors: What and where they publish, to understand what media competitors use, whether they publish for a fee or for free;

2) When monitoring mentions of your brand/product: Which media are leading? How often are you mentioned?

It is important to choose thematic media of your niche, with your target audience, to communicate the value of your brand or product. This is the only way you can achieve a wide reach."

PR ON THE GO Media Lists: Carefully curated journalist contacts and verified email addresses.

Identify positioning hypotheses and start testing them

Ekaterina Sarantseva, Global PR Lead

"Analyze media and social channels quantitatively and qualitatively to get the most out of your efforts. For instance, if your startup operates in the SaaS sector, specializing in process automation for accounting, examine the media coverage within this niche over the past six months or year. In the absence of relevant mentions, delve into related keywords such as automation or fintech to identify potential niche areas.

Start with specific topics and broaden your scope to more general ones by analyzing headlines and narratives. Explore the content component, focusing on the underlying meanings. Ask why automation is emphasized. Is it driven by environmental concerns, such as saving trees, or does it align with the broader objective of fostering job preservation and educating on proactive automation for enhanced workforce efficiency? Get to know the tone of voice in interactions so you can craft your positioning with nuanced meaning.

Once you've done this, come up with a couple of positioning hypotheses and start testing them. Start small-scale testing on your social networks, blogs, and newsletters. Observe and analyze the responses to identify the most impactful hypotheses. As soon as you've got a priority hypothesis, ramp up your media coverage. Be prepared to come up with alternative hypotheses if your platform's concepts don't resonate widely with the public."

Identify conversations around commonly overlooked topics or underserved demographics.

Michael Alexis, CEO at

"As a CEO, I firmly believe that careful media monitoring and social listening are indispensable tools for startups seeking to define their niche and brand positioning. By keeping a close eye on the media landscape, entrepreneurs can gather valuable insights into industry trends, customer preferences, and competitor activities. This information can be used to shape the startup's unique selling proposition (USP) and position it strategically within its target market.

For example, imagine a startup in the fitness industry aiming to differentiate itself from competitors by offering personalized workout plans for individuals with specific health conditions. Through media monitoring and social listening, the startup could identify conversations around commonly overlooked health conditions or underserved demographics. Armed with this knowledge, they could tailor their messaging and marketing efforts towards reaching these specific groups, establishing themselves as experts in providing personalized solutions for specialized health needs. Such practical advice allows startups to refine their brand positioning effectively while addressing niche markets that may have been previously untapped."

Understand the language and tone that resonates with your target audience.

Ally | PR Specialist at Pearl Lemon Group

"By keeping a close eye on industry news and social media trends, startups can gain a real-time understanding of their market. This includes identifying emerging trends, understanding customer pain points, and recognizing what competitors are doing. For example, at Pearl Lemon PR, we once assisted a client in the SEO space by monitoring discussions on LinkedIn and Reddit. This helped them pivot their messaging to focus on user-friendly SEO for small businesses, a niche they hadn't initially considered.

Social listening enables startups to understand the language and tone that resonates with their target audience. By analyzing the content that generates the most engagement, startups can tailor their messaging to align with their audience’s preferences, which is crucial for brand positioning.

Media monitoring isn't just about looking for opportunities; it's also about mitigating risks. By tracking brand mentions, startups can quickly respond to any negative feedback or PR crises, protecting their brand reputation. For instance, at Pearl Lemon Leads, we once identified a brewing issue for a client on Twitter. By addressing it promptly, the client not only averted potential damage but also demonstrated their commitment to customer service, enhancing their brand image.

Monitoring media and social platforms can help identify influencers and potential brand advocates within your niche. Engaging with these individuals can amplify your brand’s reach and credibility. For example, for a catering client at Pearl Lemon Catering, we identified and collaborated with a popular food blogger, significantly boosting their brand visibility in a crowded market.

Understanding what competitors are doing and how they are perceived can provide valuable insights. This information can help startups differentiate themselves and position their brand more effectively in the market.

Media monitoring and social listening are not just tools for staying informed; they are strategic assets for defining a startup's niche and positioning its brand effectively. By actively listening and responding to market signals, startups can make more informed decisions, tailor their messaging, and build a strong, resonant brand."

Engage in Targeted Online Discussions

Gaurav Rawool, Marketing Manager at Hella Infratech Pvt Ltd

"Careful media monitoring and social listening can help startups define their niche and brand positioning by analyzing conversations and trends.

One practical piece of advice is to actively engage in online discussions related to your industry, identify common pain points, and tailor your brand messaging to address those specific needs. This proactive approach allows startups to align their positioning with the concerns and preferences of their target audience, creating a more resonant and differentiated brand presence."

Craft a Compelling Brand Narrative

Michael Raymond, Healthcare Marketing Strategist at Imagine Road

"Incorporating elements of storytelling into media monitoring and social listening can significantly enhance a startup's brand positioning. Storytelling is a powerful tool to connect emotionally with the audience, making the brand more memorable and relatable.

Craft a compelling brand narrative based on audience insights. Use the data and insights gathered from media monitoring and social listening to create a brand story that resonates with your audience's values, challenges, and aspirations. This narrative should not just focus on what your product does, but also why it matters in the context of your audience's lives.

By telling a story that reflects the audience's experiences and desires, you can create a deeper emotional connection and differentiate your brand in a crowded marketplace."

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Respond to Customer Feedback Proactively

Tristan Harris, Demand Generation Senior Marketing Manager at Thrive Internet Marketing Agency

"One piece of advice I'd like to share is the power of proactive customer service. With social listening, you'll find a treasure trove of public opinions, comments, and posts about your brand. I can't stress enough how crucial it is to respond to these. Show appreciation for the positive feedback, but pay even more attention to the negative ones.

These criticisms can significantly affect your brand's reputation. Stay communicative and build relationships with your audience for trust and loyalty. Furthermore, social listening can help you detect a PR crisis in its early stages, allowing for a timely and effective response. Trust me, turning a challenging situation into an opportunity can strengthen your brand's position."

Differentiate Through Competitive Analysis

Cindi Keller, Communications Coordinator at The Criminal Defense Firm

"By monitoring the media, new businesses can study their competitors closely. By monitoring competitors' marketing techniques, customer feedback, and brand positioning, startups can find gaps in their own approaches. The startup can use this data to set itself apart from rivals by positioning its brand to emphasize its distinct value proposition.

To prevent market saturation and concentrate on areas with the most development and differentiation potential, it is helpful to understand the strengths and weaknesses of competitors."

Align Brand with Platform-Specific Needs

Aiden Higgins, Senior Editor and Writer at The Broke Backpacker

"For expanding your brand's reach to a diverse audience, social media stands out as a powerhouse. Through my experiences, I've recognized its ability to provide insights into the expectations and needs of its users.

It's crucial to acknowledge the unique nature of various social media platforms. For instance, Instagram appeals to those seeking visual delights, while Quora serves as a knowledge hub for inquisitive minds. By actively monitoring and engaging in social listening, you can discern these distinct needs and align your brand with a specific platform that aligns with your products or services.

In my case, I opted for Facebook for my company. After an analysis of the platform's trends, I recognized not only its status as the largest social media platform but also its robust travel niche. This insight led to the exponential growth of my Facebook following, amassing over 46,000 avid travel enthusiasts.

The key is to select a platform that seamlessly integrates with what your brand has to offer."

Use Metrics to Refine Audience Segmentation

Matias Rodsevich, Founder at PRHive

"Careful media monitoring and social listening can significantly contribute to defining a niche and brand positioning for startups. One practical piece of advice is to use social media metrics to increase brand awareness and measure the correlation between campaign success and brand objectives.

By fusing these metrics, startups can gain insights into audience demographics, preferences, and behaviors. This detailed understanding allows for the creation of a more refined persona and segmentation of the target audience.

Through this, startups can tailor their messaging and positioning strategies, better aligning with the needs and interests of their specific niche. This approach not only enhances brand awareness but also broadens the scope of engagement within the target market."


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