Customer-centric marketing is the name of the game this year.

And that involves knowing how much your customers are talking about you.

It also involves paying attention to how much is being said about your competition. Who in your niche is mentioned in online conversations the most? And if it’s not you, what can you do to change that?

To borrow a well-worn chestnut: There’s a KPI for that. A KPI, or Key Performance Indicator, is a measurable value that lets you know how effectively you’re meeting key business objectives. And one KPI that every brand should be focusing on this year is Share of Voice.

It sounds a bit grandiose, but the premise is simple. Basically, share of voice is the share of brand exposure that a brand is getting compared to their competitors and the rest of the industry. It’s similar to market share, but focuses entirely on how prevalent a brand is in media and social conversations.

How do you calculate that?

Essentially, Share of Voice (or SOV) is the percentage of mentions that your brand owns within a conversation compared to the mentions of your competitors. It’s an important part of competitive analysis, of setting a brand’s content marketing goals, and of measuring your content’s effectiveness. If your Share of Voice is low, study the competition to see what they’re doing so that you can better optimize your content creation and distribution practices.

For example: Furniture Company A wants to find out how many times its brand name is namedropped in the media. To do that, it sets up Google Alerts or a search in its PR or media outreach database to count exactly how many times its brand gets mentioned on blogs, websites, and other digital publications over a period of time.

Using Google AdWords or similar analytics tools, Company A counts the number of impressions it has received, as well as the number of impressions of its top four or five major competitors. With that information Company A can set up a benchmark and see where they currently are in the conversation compared to its competition. After a bit of review and analysis, Company A finds out that it got 200 mentions over the last 12 months. Meanwhile, Furniture Company B received 250 mentions and Furniture Company C got 1000 mentions.

Company A then takes those numbers and figures out the percentage of Share of Voice it owns. Let’s say Company A owns about 10 percent, Company B owns about 20 percent, and Company C owns a whopping 70 percent of the conversation.

The easiest way to visualize Share of Voice is to imagine a pie chart. How much of that pie belongs to your brand? A slim sliver? A nice, savory slice? Or a big chunk? In our example, it’s safe to say Company C owns a hefty hunk of the conversation—for now. And there are likely some good reasons Company C ran away with the pie, too, reasons that the other companies must analyze. Although the reason could also be a simple one: it’s likely Company C is a much larger business, with a bigger budget that it can throw at content marketing, PR, and media outreach efforts.

But let’s assume Furniture Company B is roughly the same size, with the same kind of marketing budget, as Furniture Company A. How are they getting more media coverage? In order to stay competitive, this is something Company A needs to figure out.

Share of Voice is not a perfect KPI, but it can tell you at a glance what your level of brand awareness is like, what your competition is like, and allow you to figure out what your competition is doing well, so you can leverage some of their tactics or find a strong differentiator to boost your own media presence.

Rounding up our furniture niche example, let’s say Company B is a modest one, but it excels at responding to customer conversations on Facebook and Twitter. They reliably provide their customers with fast answers, and they consistently produce valuable content at regular times that their customers often share with their friends. Company A may create a lot of quality content, but maybe their distribution methods have a few bottlenecks that need sorting out. Or maybe they’re not targeting the right publications in their niche. This is an issue that share of voice can highlight in your marketing efforts, so that you can quickly revise your strategy and make improvements.   

The outcome of your media outreach is important, and there are many more ways to stay on top of sentiment by tracking share of voice. Keep an eye on this blog as we explore more ways to analyze your impact throughout 2019.  

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