How to Measure Brand Awareness: Share of Voice

What’s better than going viral? Being relevant. 

Brand clients today are coming to us and asking, “What can we do to be more relevant?” Virality is still an online win (that is if it’s for the right reasons), but it’s a fleeting moment in the great yawning span of internet culture and discussion that’s moving and morphing faster than ever. But if your brand is relevant, it means you’re popping up in the right search queries, that people are talking about your company and, generally, they know that you exist, so they’ll seek you out when the time comes. 

Relevancy, however, is an amorphous thing to measure – unless you have the right tools. Thanks to better tracking capabilities, Acadia is now able to help brands measure their share of voice, a metric that unlocks the window into relevancy. It helps companies understand their level of brand awareness in the context of their competitive landscape, know when and why they come up in conversation, and narrow down the type of audiences that they’re resonating with the most within their category. 

For brands that want to learn not just how their campaigns are performing, but how they stack up against the broader conversation, share of voice is an essential metric to track – not a leg up, but a necessity. Being able to do so is a lesson in knowing your competitors, your target audience, and how you can angle your brand to stand out even against the biggest budgets. 

Unpacking the brand awareness toolbox

Brand awareness is something that has typically been measured by impressions and engagement rates. Brands wanting to see if their new campaign is landing would look at video views, and click-throughs and reach, and compare these figures to past campaigns to know if the latest efforts stack up against past ones. These are still important metrics to use to understand how a campaign is performing, but they only tell part of the story. They essentially exist in a vacuum, as you check your work against itself.

Share of voice tells brands where they fall in the full marketplace. It adds context to impressions and engagement by showing whether or not a brand’s online campaigns and creative are breaking through in the right conversations and search queries. More manual share of voice metrics in the past have included keyword mentions, hashtags, and tagged photos – but broadening out share of voice tracking capabilities gives brands more insight into what they can’t control. How are people talking about your brand on Reddit? Share of voice analysis will take this type of information and put it alongside things you can control, like paid promotions behind a video.

Share of voice: Plan and attack

There’s a method behind getting the most out of our share of voice metrics, which can paint a picture of just how relevant your brand is compared to where you want it to be. 

Identify your competitors: Think about who you’re going head-to-head against, and put together a list of your top 10 most relevant competitors. Take budget and positioning into consideration – a small mom-and-pop soda brand may technically be competing in the same field as Coca-Cola, but there are more players closer in size and seeking out the same customers who are more important to stack yourself up against. 

Pick your lane: Where is it essential that your brand is showing up? The more broad your business proposition is, the more specific you’ll need to be. Acadia worked with one sexual wellness brand that is competing in a relatively small space. The brand wanted to be in the conversation when people searched “sexual wellness” on Instagram or Google. But one company competing in the healthcare industry had to be more specific. As a startup, it can’t stand up to the massive budgets and established brand awareness of other players, but through share of voice monitoring, we learned that it was resonating among gig workers – the exact audience the brand was hoping to reach. 

Listen: Don’t think about your brand’s output as a one-way conversation. Social listening can tell you what questions your potential customers have about the space you’re in, and you can reverse-engineer that to gear your content around answering those questions. This can apply to places your brand doesn’t even have a presence. What Reddit threads are lighting up in your area? That’s a space that’s less welcoming to branded content, but if users there have those questions, it’s likely that others will too. Your next Instagram campaign could center around providing clarity to those topics, and the next time that conversation happens across the internet, you have a better chance of standing out. 

Track over time: Think about what you want to know most about your brand in terms of relevancy. What conceptions do people have when they hear your brand name? By setting up search queries, keywords and even negative sentiments to track across social platforms, you’ll get an idea of where you stand. You can even track what people are saying about your competitors in reviews, and identify areas of opportunity. If you’re looking to improve relevancy, think about what might be standing in the way. Is your brand older? Is it small and unknown? From there, you can set a specific goal, like changing a misconception or gaining share of voice among your competitors. As that shifts over time, you’ll be able to track it. 

Unlocking New Social Potential

Social performance has historically been difficult to track – while good for top-of-funnel awareness, tracing that all the way to sales is often opaque. Consider share of voice the new business case for social. If you can say to your team that your brands is the number one most talked about brand in your category, that will move the needle. 

This is a measurement tool that’s still evolving, so mastering it now will give you an advantage as more capabilities come around. But consider it table stakes. To compete in the fast-changing social environment, you need this extra layer of insight to understand how you stack up. It’s not enough to know that a video got 1,000 views – what are they saying about it? Campaigns can constantly be reassessed and optimized as you check engagement levels against what’s happening in the broader market landscape, and the latest iterations of the algorithm show that while virality may be fleeting, content can always be resurfaced. Set yourself up for success over the next year and beyond by owning share of voice.

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Maire Davitt and Paula Ersly