A share of voice analysis is one of the oldest tools in the PR and advertising toolbox. Ever since we’ve been able to pull media and online mentions, there have been share of voice exercises.
This involves pull brand mentions from both media publications, news websites and major social media networks, to compare their share of voice amongst a selected competitor set.
This helps companies to set KPIs, compare against competitors and gain valuable insight into what types of stories are breaking through in the media. It certainly isn’t just an ego-smoothing activity.
Share of voice has always been useful, but there’s a lot more to share of voice than meets the eye.
The issue with the status quo
While a traditional and straight up shore of voice analysis is useful, it’s basically just a linear percentage figure. It has its limits, and following it too closely as part of a strategy can damage your PR efforts.
Because really, what does having the largest share of voice actually mean? Not a lot if the quality of your mentions is low or if coverage is unfavourable.
Say you had the highest Google search results of all your competitors. Sounds good, right? Not necessarily. Those mentions are mostly useless if they do not add any value to your organisation.
Business leaders can obsess over this percentage, but it’s a simply misguided approach. What they should concern themselves with instead is:
What key conversation topics are we hitting with our coverage?
All businesses should have targets for the topics they want to have authority on in the media. Without these targets, you will be taking a scattergun approach. This may get you a large share of voice, and potentially slightly increase visibility, it likely won’t improve your brand reputation.
What will is having a strong share of voice on the topics and issues that actually matter to your business. Share your expertise that customers look for and resonate with. This is why share of voice needs to be viewed through the lens of business-critical topics.
What are the key media trends within the industry?
Casting a larger net of assessment beyond your and your competitors’ media profiles will provide you with a better understanding of industry media trends. Looking at industry mentions and wider issues will spark ideas to form a content strategy. Jumping onto industry trends will also drive organic traffic, which will improve the value and volume of your media mentions. Some of these trends may not be discovered by your competitors, so would never have been found from a traditional share of voice analysis. Some of these trends may be completely untapped by your competitor set and wouldn’t have been discovered from a traditional share of voice analysis.
What is the sentiment of our coverage?
Your share of voice sentiment can be positive, neutral or negative. The difference can mean a lot for your business.
You might have the largest voice share of all your competitors, but if 76% of your coverage is a negative sentiment, is it really worth it? They say that all publicity is good publicity, but, that’s not really true. Bad media coverage is just that, bad media coverage. It can damage your reputation and negatively affects your brand. Therefore, looking at media sentiment should be an essential part of your PR or marketing strategy.
Bear in mind that a sentiment analysis is never 100% accurate or perfect. Some results are not consistent, especially if you do not use the same tool consistently. However, even a floored sentiment analysis is better than none at all.
What sort of outlets are publishing our content?
Where your majority of coverage comes from is important. If all of your online share of voice comes from a fleeting mention in a small regional paper, it’s not really worth anything.
One well-written, positive and meaningful piece of content in a top-tier publication is worth 50 small mentions. It is far better for measurable brand awareness to have quality over quantity.
This type of thinking will add another layer to your media analysis, and ultimately give you a stronger share of voice.
What does the social media picture look like?
Social media mentions are where you find the honest, unfiltered opinions. That’s the beauty of social media channels. In this context, we aren’t looking at your companies’ owned channels, we are looking into what the general public are saying about you on their personal social media accounts. Whether that’s looking at the comments sections on your posts, direct mentions, or replies, here is where we will find the true views on your brand. Twitter and Facebook for example can be a powerful social listening tool.
The media can also be seen on social media, so it is important to also track the reaction to your media mentions. The media also plays out on social media, so we must look at the social reaction to your media mentions. Often this is where we will see the best insights, as they are unfiltered takes.
How does this impact Google search?
A ‘quick Google’ is the first thing a stakeholder will do when researching your business. Your media presence affects what is shown on a Google search, and is key to understanding how your coverage is impacting your overall reputation.
A positive and high-standard article on the first page of a Google search page is great for your business. However, a negative article can be hugely detrimental.
A large share of voice does not always mean you have the best media profile. Far from it in fact. Even just focusing on your media profile in the news is an outdated way of thinking. We need to be looking at the whole picture.