3 Tips for Improving Your Online Share of Voice

  |  July 25, 2011   |  Comments

Keep track of your share of voice and sentiment over time so you can see how your social engagement and promotions are affecting your overall trends.

The wonderful thing about social media is the ability to "listen in" to an online conversation and learn what people are saying about your brand. It's like an ongoing, online focus group and all you have to do is tune in and listen, which is a strategy that is at the top of many companies' social media agendas. As you listen in, you will learn about customers' likes, wants, and needs. This comes in the form of positive, neutral, or negative statements or mentions. This collective sentiment compared to your competitors is called "share of voice."

In social media, share of voice refers to the number of conversations about your brand vs. your competitors/market. You will want to use a monitoring program that can assist you in keeping track of all mentions of conversations about your brand and your competitors' brands over a given time period. When looking at these mentions, you'll want to make sure to track those that have positive, negative, or neutral sentiment. Then you can assign a weight to each of these categories and calculate your average sentiment and share of voice.

It's good to keep track of your share of voice and sentiment over time so you can see how your social engagement and promotions are affecting your overall trends. Also, if your sentiment and share of voice jumps or drops suddenly, then you will want to investigate why and act accordingly.

Tip 1: Calculate Your Share of Voice

The first tip is to calculate and monitor your share of voice. Radian6 and Social Mention are excellent social media tools that can help you measure both of these variables. I will show you an example of how you can do this with Social Mention. To see how to calculate the share of voice with Radian6, see this post by Jacqueline Antworth.


Go to Social Mention and type in your company name in quotes ("organization name") and click search. Make sure you select "all" in the pull-down menu next to the search box. This will make sure you are using only exact, relevant matches. For this example, I will analyze the top fast food burger chains.

On the results page you can see the total number of mentions at the top right as you can see below. In our case, there are 353 mentions. You can adjust the date range if you like to suit your needs. You should then scan through the mentions to get a feel for what is being said and by whom. This will help you put the mentions in proper context.


Now go over to the chart on the left and look at the "sentiment" panel. You will see positive, neutral, and negative sentiment figures. If you add these up, it will equal the total mentions.

Open up a spreadsheet and jot down each of these numbers like I have done below. Now do a search on each of your competitors you are tracking and record the same numbers in the spreadsheet.


To calculate the share of voice, you need to add up the positive and neutral mentions for each company and divide by the total number of mentions. So for McDonald's I would add up 77 + 263, which is 340. Now divide this by 1,723 to get 19.73 percent. This is the online share of voice for McDonald's. So here is the formula:

(positive mentions) + (neutral mentions) / (total mentions for all companies)

To get the average sentiment, we will use a five point scale with positive = 5, neutral = 3, and negative = 1. So take each type of mention and multiply by the scale number and divide by the total number of mentions. So for McDonald's we would take (77 x 5) + (263 x 3) + (13 x 1) / 353 = 3.36. Do this for each company to get the average sentiment. Here is the formula:

(positive mentions x 5) + (neutral mentions x 3) + (negative sentiment x 1) / total company mentions

Now, in your spreadsheet select the organization column and the share of voice column and insert a pie chart to get a nice graph you can show your boss.

Tip 2: Building Online Awareness

Now that you know where you stand, you can start taking active steps toward improving your position. You need to develop methods to generate more brand awareness. If you want your customers to talk about you, they need to be out there with memorable content. Top-of-mind awareness comes from having social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. Make sure you not only have these social media accounts set up, but you have an editorial calendar in place with plans to produce memorable content and interactions on a consistent basis. The more you do this, the more you will be top of mind to your customers. The beautiful thing is if you are truly "listening in," you will know what they want and can give them what they need.

Tip 3: Engage Customers in Helpful Ways

Customer satisfaction is an art that many organizations seek to improve. A happy customer will translate to positive sentiment and mentions. Again, as you tune in to the conversation, you will know what your weaknesses are and what is ailing your customers. Make the necessary improvements and tell everyone. Additionally, find ways to help individual people out online. I have seen many examples where helping one person with their problem turned a negative customer into a positive, outspoken advocate. Delighted customers will in turn create satisfaction-driven content.

If you want to increase your share of voice, you need to first be able to measure it and then act to make improvements. As you engage your customers by helping them, thanking them, and providing sharable, memorable content, they will respond in kind, which will increase your share of voice within your market. Make sure you continue tracking so you visualize if you are on the right track and improving.


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Ron Jones

Ron was president/CEO of Symetri Internet Marketing, which provides strategic SEM consulting and training. Ron was actively involved in the SEM community and spoke and trained at conferences and seminars. Ron also served on the Board of Directors for SEMPO and was one of the authors for the SEMPO Institute Fundamentals and Advanced courses.

Ron also published a book called Keyword Intelligence: Keyword Research for Search Social and Beyond. This book outlines various methods and tips for conducting keyword research but more importantly outlines many ways to use keyword research for social media, site design, content development and marketing, and even traditional marketing and branding.

Ron passed away on June 30, 2012.

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