In today’s competitive marketplace, brand awareness matters more for companies than ever before. Social media platforms not only provide a means to boost your brand, but they also generate data that, when used correctly, can steer your PR campaigns towards success.
What is Brand Awareness?
Brand awareness is the level of consumer familiarity with a particular brand’s products, services, or image. Familiarity is what motivates consumers to choose Coca-Cola over other soft drinks. It is the economic moat that wards off competition and ensures customers remain loyal. This is the first stage of the marketing funnel and the key to promoting new products, establishing loyalties, and reviving old brands.
When developing branding campaigns, companies must consider their values, reputation, and the levels of engagement their key messages receive on social platforms. Beyond engagement, brand boosts are about establishing positive relations between a company and its target audience.
Why is Brand Awareness Important?
Brand awareness is important because consumers rely on research and social proof to inform their purchasing decisions. In his TED talk, “The Post-Crisis Consumer,” John Gerzerma labels this phenomenon the “rise of the mindful consumer.” With an abundance of information at their fingertips, consumers can now sift through online reviews and compare influencer testimonials on social media before every purchase. In fact, 67% of the consumer journey now occurs digitally.
For this reason, companies need to use social media channels to build brand awareness positively influence their target audience’s consumer journey in their favor.
Social Media Metrics to Measure Brand Awareness
PR professionals’ branding strategies are most effective when informed by reliable data. Social media provides companies with access to a wealth of information on consumer engagement with and awareness of new campaigns, and influencer pick-up of key messages. With approximately 501 million tweets sent per day, companies are confronted with both a goldmine and a headache when it comes to analyzing the available data. MGP head of digital Eamonn Carey explains, “you can almost get data overload: the challenge is picking out the metrics that matter[…] The smarter brands are taking a step back from the tsunami of data.”
Amid such large quantities of data, PublicRelay has witnessed an explosion of AI-based tools that help track the key metrics used to measure brand awareness. These metrics can be broken down into four standardized categories:
Exposure and Potential Reach
Exposure and potential reach, which tell the possible number of unique viewers a post may have, are the first data points to consider when attempting to improve your brand recognition across social media platforms.
However, exposure and potential reach should be utilized as baseline metrics as they do not provide enough insight on their own to help steer a PR strategy. For instance, a post could have high impressions, but also receive low or negative engagement. Using exposure and potential reach in conjunction with other metrics, such as engagement, will help you glean more insight from the data at hand.
Put simply, engagement is the number of users who interact with a campaign and the degree of that interaction over time. Extrapolating engagement can be done in multiple ways. Often, data analytics tools will create a metric that is a combination of likes, retweets, comments, and shares.
High levels of positive engagement often indicate a healthy relationship with your target audience and a successful branding campaign. However, these metrics also need to be understood within their context. For instance, a post may receive a high number of likes and shares but relatively few comments, indicating that the topic doesn’t stimulate discussion. On the other hand, the motivations for sharing or retweeting your company’s coverage may be negative. For this reason, engagement metrics are just one part of a wide range of data points that need to be taken into consideration.
Measuring impact on social media refers to the overall changes in consumer behavior and sentiment towards your brand as the result of your PR campaigns. Often companies will compare their initial rates of engagement and exposure to those during and after a campaign. In this case, social media analytics can provide a useful benchmark to inform your next steps.
Further, social media platforms are data treasure troves when it comes to evaluating your brand awareness relative to your rivals. A key goal for any awareness strategy should be about establishing your brand as the central player among competitors.
In every campaign, influencers are vital to swaying opinions and increasing awareness. Strategists must understand industry influencers’ topical interests and the degree of engagement they can generate.
The appropriate metrics can reveal the extent to which influencers promoted your key messages and help your team to identify the major influencers in the industry. Ultimately, boosting your brand recognition is about intelligent engagement. Find the right influencers and you can reach the audiences that truly matter.
Ensuring Accurate Assessment and Intelligent Engagement
PR teams that engage with this standardized model lay a strong analytical foundation upon which to develop their brand awareness strategies. As Neil Kleiner, former head of social media at Golin argues, “exposure, engagement, impact, [and] advocacy are important, and there are demographic elements to it as well: it’s about reaching 10,000 of the right people, not ten million.”
Indeed, PR strategists should be looking for intelligent engagement when improving their brands and that means going beyond base-level metrics that are supplied by AI. Although AI is useful for processing large amounts of data, it encounters issues with accuracy and meaning when it comes to nuance and developing insights that matter, and especially when gauging sentiment.
How is Sentiment Analysis Used for Brand Management?
Sentiment analysis is crucial to brand management when staging a brand awareness campaign. Applying sentiment to the four-baseline metrics is the final element in a PR strategist’s information armory. Receiving high volumes of mentions, retweets, and influencer traction are all signs of growth. However, without an awareness of the sentiment of social engagement, your campaign assessment may be deceptive.
Sentiment refers to the tone or emotion attached to social media posts or engagement. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence, many products are appearing on the market that offer sentiment analysis with unlimited data pools.
While the tone of your coverage is important, sentiment also extends to social media coverage of your company values and reputational drivers. However, AI cannot accurately identify reputational drivers and value systems that human analysts can. By understanding the kinds of reputational drivers and values that have emerged during a campaign combined with tone, PR strategists can understand how their brand awareness strategies are having a real-time impact. Applying sentiment to the four-baseline metrics through a synthesis of human intelligence and AI tools allows PR teams to pinpoint the positives and negatives of their campaigns to increase brand awareness.
Using Social Media Analytics the Right Way
When measuring boosts in brand awareness using social media analytics, employing a variety of baseline metrics paired with accurate sentiment analysis will yield the most reliable results.
At PublicRelay, we utilize the four-baseline metrics for a holistic approach that compliments AI systems with purposeful, human-generated insights. Our human-AI hybrid approach focuses on intelligent engagement, whereby we filter out the noise and pinpoint the most valuable insights to help you increase your brand awareness. Click here to learn more.