In today's digital age, understanding your market presence and engagement is crucial to your success. Until recently, most companies relied solely on Share of Voice (SOV) to determine their market presence. SOV measures the amount of marketing content a company produces compared to its competitors in a specific topic, audience, channel, vertical or geo. However, SOV only shows part of the picture. Combining engagement with SOV gives a more comprehensive view.
SOV's Missing Piece: Engagement Rate
Engagement rate adds another layer to the SOV analysis and provides insight into the impact and attention generated by each activity. With engagement rate, marketers can see which topics are more interesting, which audiences are more engaged and which channels attract more attention. This information helps companies focus their efforts on the right topics, channels and audiences to maximize their impact.
Today’s consumers rarely align themselves with a brand simply because it’s a big name or it’s one that everyone uses. They need to see, hear and experience your brand consistently and in a way that instills confidence.
But there’s a lot of competition for their limited attention, so your efforts have to be focused and strategic. This battle for Share of Voice (SOV) often appears in the form of paid ads, of course, but the most intriguing and valuable engagement comes in the forms of thought leadership (blogs, white papers, webinars, etc.) and social media discussion.
These communication modes allow you to take charge of the conversation, and demonstrate that you’re a company worthy of a customer’s business.
Understanding and Maximizing Share of Voice
What’s remarkable is that you can work on expanding your Share of Voice in two almost contradictory ways. First, you can look for topics in which your competitors are already creating content for a specific audience, and then earn a share of the spotlight as you add your own voice to the conversation. Or, as an alternative strategic approach, you can find topics nobody is actively talking about and grab the “first mover” advantage. Virtually all the tips below are relevant for both scenarios.
Keep Yourself Informed About Your Market's Movements
First things first. Before you begin collecting metrics or planning tactics, you need to do your homework:
- Research your industry and competitors
While everyone you work with can probably rattle off the names of your main competitors, keep in mind that you can easily be caught off-guard by a new, scrappy young startup with great communicators. Look to the periphery and spot the not-yet-prominent brands in your space. See who’s being touted as “up and coming,” and track them on your watchlist.
- Identify your target audience
The more focused your content for a specific audience – the publication/platform choice, terminology, examples, and advice — the better results you’ll see. Google also “prefers” to see specific, non-universal text so that it doesn’t need to add you to the mix of hundreds of similar articles written for a general, undefined audience.
- Analyze your competitors' SOV
Once you know whom you are targeting and what industries they represent, you can begin assessing your competitors' success (or failure!) to grab SOV. It’s hard to do this on your own — the internet is an infinite, swirling, dynamic content ocean — but there are terrific tools out there that do the heavy lifting for you and point you in the right direction.
Define Your Brand Voice
It’s obviously not enough (or even desirable) to simply crank out massive amounts of content. Let’s look at the three factors to consider.
Develop a clear and consistent brand message
We’ve all seen the statistics: a consumer needs to a message 9, 33, 50, or 88 times before it sinks in. The trick to making a lasting impression and avoiding the dreaded “who wrote that great article I saw last week?” is to be consistent with your messaging. Use the same tone. Drive them to the same general conclusions. Become the go-to expert on specific topics. Write in a series that creates a vibe of comprehensiveness. Also, if you have a team of communicators, ensure everyone is on board and aligned on the guidelines for all content. Ideally, assign one master editor to review all content for consistency.
Determine your brand's unique value proposition
In marketing, there’s no real value to superlatives like better, faster, more efficient, professional, and thorough… because no company in their right mind would claim to be anything but. It’s all about unique differentiators, with a message of “stop looking for a solution – we do it like no one else.” Spend the time to figure it out and then keep repeating that message or messages (if you have multiple audiences).
Create a tone of voice that guides all communications
Some brands, especially in the past decade, have gone with a chatty, informal tone. Some are serious and authoritative; some are detailed and wordy, and some avoid sentences more than a line long. However you define your tone, stick with it. How you say it is often, amazingly, more important than what you say.
Create a Content Strategy
Serious, successful content teams are fiercely dedicated to planning, discipline, and structure. In order to carefully measure success (more on that in a minute!), you need to have a sense of order built into your plan. And remember, the timing, content, and platforms can change as you see how each performs or you discover how much/little time it takes to produce.
Develop a content calendar
Your schedule can be based on your capacity and availability, or realistic expectations for attention (e.g., a customer may read a twice-monthly blog post, but daily or even weekly may be a bit much). Creating content creation tasks and assigning them to people and days means there’s less chance of losing the pace.
Create a mix of content types (e.g. blog posts, videos, infographics, and so many more)
Though you may ultimately focus on a few content types and exclude others (based on performance and in-house expertise), start with as broad a spectrum as possible to gauge the effort/result ratio of each. The cost in time, money, and production effort will quickly shape your ongoing list and schedule. This is another area where you can make decisions based on trying to outrun your competitors’ activities.
Utilize SEO best practices
While this could be an entire blog post/white paper/course in itself, make sure you have at least a basic understanding of keywords, article structure, linking, etc. You can bring in a consultant or third-party company, but at the very least, take some online courses and watch some educational videos to get up to speed. Warning – make sure they were produced in the past year – Google changes its preferences often, and what worked yesterday may not be best practice today.
Utilize Social Media
Marketers know there’s a right way to work social media, and a wrong way… it’s not a checklist item — either do it right or don’t waste your time. If that means hiring a guru (or promoting an intern!) who lives in that world, go with it. They are a good investment.
Choose the right platforms for your audience
IT managers probably aren’t using Facebook to learn about tech tools, and investment advisors aren’t using Instagram. Oh, and sports fanatics don’t spend too much time tracking teams or players on LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to double down on the platforms that make sense and ignore the others, beyond, perhaps, superficial coverage.
Engage with your audience through comments and direct messages
Social media is interactive. Period. If you post something and walk away, you’ll lose most of the benefit. People may agree, they may argue, or they may question. It’s all good. Respond both publicly so others can see, and directly, so they feel they have your attention.
Monitor and measure the success of your social media efforts
Yes, this is a toughie. You can’t read minds to know how a post affected the reader. But you can definitely measure shares, likes, discussions, and links to see if you’ve touched a nerve. Then you make the key decision: Do you focus on improving in areas where you seem to have lukewarm results, or throw more energy into what clearly works? There’s no right answer – it’s all about your bandwidth, skill set, team preferences, and business goals.
Measure and Analyze Results
Alas, most marketing departments are populated by liberal arts majors … which is great in most respects, except for when it comes to numbers. If you prefer PowerPoint to Excel, you’ll need to find either a third-party partner or software/service vendor to help you out, or grab someone in-house who loves data analysis. However you do it, never make a change — or even a next move — without being able to justify it empirically.
Use tools to track Share of Voice
This is a Big Data challenge, so use software tools that can do the tracking, analysis, benchmarking, and reporting that we humans don’t manage quite as well.
Analyze data to identify areas of improvement
You’ll end up with a lot of information to chew on. Decide in advance what you’re looking for and how you’ll respond to what you’ll find. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so make a plan before you measure.
Continuously optimize and adapt your strategy
Content marketing is anything but static. Keep an open mind, get ready to change direction, and look for opportunities where you don’t expect them … all based on the data you collect, not guesswork.
As we hope is clear, maximizing your Share of Voice through content marketing is both an art and a science. Creating exciting, engaging, attention-grabbing content is only half the battle. Deciding what topics to address, where to place your content, which competitors to track, and how to respond or adapt is even more critical to success.
And if you happen to be looking at leveraging AI to power up your brand’s SOV and Engagement rate, feel free to reach out to get a quick 15-min demo of how Brew can do just that.