Media Metrics that Matter to Businesses and Brands
The explosion of online information can be overwhelming to major brands and their Chief Communications Officers, who want to harness the power of media intelligence data in a meaningful way, and understand the impact of their communications efforts as easily, efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
Unfortunately, an abundance of media metrics sometimes makes the process even more bewildering. How do you choose the best metrics to validate your brand’s media performance success?
The answer is to select metrics that align with your business goals and communications programs. In other words, use metrics that matter, not all metrics, to demonstrate success in media coverage and conversations.
Five Categories of Basic Metrics
Business and communications goals require different metrics to showcase your brand’s achievements. For example, a goal to enhance executive visibility needs different metrics than a goal to increase customer loyalty.
Metrics can typically be found in five categories: brand awareness, brand reputation, brand preference, competitive metrics and customer metrics. These categories provide you with options to cherry-pick and customize the best analytics program for your brand. Let’s explore each of these categories.
Mentions: The most frequently used metric is the volume of mentions about your brand. But not all mentions are created equal. A mention on The New York Times website is obviously valuable. A mention on a trade site or a popular industry blog might also be important. But a mention on a site that is not frequented by your target audience doesn’t matter as much. So only count your mentions in your brand’s top-tier sites, to lower the volume of data that you are analyzing.
Sentiment: Recent studies show that approximately 80% of all conversations and coverage is neutral, regardless of industry. (An exception, of course, is during a communications crisis.) Therefore, it is necessary to understand what drives positive and negative coverage, so you know what strategies and tactics work and why.
Message Penetration: This is a crucial metric to track, to make sure your key messages resonate with your audiences. Analyze the stories and conversations that contain your messages, and discover which ones are used the most and why. This helps you revise your messages to reach a wider (or a more targeted) audience.
Engagement: Similar to mentions, not all engagement is created equal. A “like” is easy to do and tells you very little. A comment takes more time and thought, and therefore carries more weight. Comments or shares with endorsements are even more significant.
Share of Voice: Share of Voice (SOV) is the percentage of coverage and conversations about your brand compared to your competitors. But without context, SOV lacks relevance. For example, a competitor in the midst of a crisis will likely have a higher SOV than your brand. According to Mashable, “It matters less how much share of the industry voice you have, and more about the quality of voice and whether or not your key constituents are understanding what it is you have to say.” See “Competitive Metrics” below for more details.
Share of Media Channel: This metric identifies the media channels where your brand coverage and conversations occur, and can guide your strategy to focus on where the most people will be receptive to your messages.
Market Leadership References: This simple metric is calculated on how frequently your brand is referenced as a market leader. You can also find out how often your brand is mentioned in relation to leadership qualities such as integrity or innovation.
Executive Visibility and Thought Leadership: If your spokespeople are quoted, you can determine the frequency and context of their visibility, and the sentiment in reaction to their messages. Thought leadership also displays the attention and sentiment given to your white papers, bylined articles, research studies and more.
Rankings and Awards: Reputation can be favorably affected by your brand’s appearance in positive top-ten lists and consumer rankings, or by receiving industry awards. Obviously, there is even more value if a list contains additional commentary about why your brand is named.
Endorsements: Endorsements are the cornerstone of brand reputation. Evaluate the number of endorsements over time, and analyze what is being said about your brand and by whom. New strategies can be developed when armed with this valuable information.
Word Association: During a crisis, you can find the volume and context of negative words associated with your brand, to inform your strategic reaction.
Shares: Also during a crisis, successful strategies depend on knowing how many times and where negative content about your brand has been shared.
Preference: This metric unveils recognition by influencers and consumers. Typically, they state a preference for your brand over others in the marketplace, or they endorse your brand as the best.
Recommendations: Recommendations go one step further than brand preference, because influencers and consumers not only tell people that they prefer your brand, but they also recommend it.
Advocacy: Aligned with preference and recommendations, people become advocates by consistently supporting your brand over time.
Share of Voice: As mentioned, SOV is the percentage of coverage and conversations about your brand compared to your competitors. Mine the data to find out what activities or messages contributed to competitors’ SOV. Was there a popular event? Was there a backlash to an initiative, new product or company statement?
Share of Topic: You can also find out which company has the largest voice for industry topics that are important to your brand. Uncover competitors’ messages, positioning and approaches. Find out why one competitor “owns” a conversation, and adjust your strategy, if needed.
Other “Share of” Metrics: SOV can be examined in different ways. What happens when you look at Share of Positive Sentiment, or Share of Trade Media? How do the results differ and why? You can identify competitors’ strategies and tactics by analyzing this media intelligence.
Purchase Interest and Purchase Intent: There is a slight but notable difference between these two metrics: purchase interest is when someone states an interest in possibly buying an item; purchase intent is a stated intention to buy it. Evaluating the number of times people discuss their interest or intent in purchasing a product or service can be helpful on many levels. Analytics can find trends and patterns, in addition to ideas to follow-up with these potential customers.
Customer Loyalty: A complex search string can find examples of why a customer is loyal to a brand, and how frequently that loyalty is stated.
Customer Satisfaction: Similarly, a complex search string can find examples of why and how often a customer expresses satisfaction with a brand, its products and services.
Customer Service: If customer service is a major part of your business, tracking customer questions, complaints and other feedback is crucial. Again, a complex search string will be your guide to discovering these posts, which should be reviewed daily, hourly or in real time, depending on your needs. Of course, quick response might also be necessary.
Brand Preference and Recommendations: These two metrics unveil a customer preference for your brand or a recommendation by customers.
The most successful approach to analyzing an abundance of media data is to choose metrics that align with your business and communication goals. In addition to tallying numbers, analyze the results to help inform business decisions, refine your messages, revise media outreach plans and jump on trends in influencer opinions. In my next blog post, I will explore media metrics that do not necessarily show the impact of your communications efforts.
Margot Sinclair Savell is an award-winning writer who has decades of experience crafting and editing content. During 15 years at agencies such as Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Weber Shandwick, she specialized in strategic counsel for measurement, insights and analytics. In 2016, she was inducted into the PR Measurement Hall of Fame.