It’s no secret that consumers buy from brands they like and trust. But how much merit does your brand boast? Knowing your brand has value, or equity, is one thing; measuring just how much equity is quite another.
One way to do brand equity measurement is by using social listening tools. Social media gives brands direct insight into real conversations and opinions about their brand. With more than 91% of U.S. marketers using social media in their brand strategies, there’s a good chance that people are talking about your brand whether or not you realize it.
Here’s how you can use social listening tools to better understand your brand’s equity and how to grow its value.
What Is Brand Equity?
By definition, brand equity is the value of a company that comes from a strong, positive reputation and public perception. When brands appear valuable to consumers, they’re able to charge a premium for their products or services.
It’s fair to say that not all brands are created equal. Some are known for high-quality products (like Honda or L.L. Bean). Others are famous for outstanding customer service (here’s looking at you, Zappos.com). Brands that have high equity often have a “wow” factor that makes them best-in-class for a reason.
It’s not just global names that benefit from brand equity. Smaller brands and companies can earn equity, too, even if you only operate in a local or regional market. No matter the size and scope of your business, building a reputation around your core strengths will make you the go-to for your target audience.
Why Should Brands Care About Brand Equity?
Brand equity isn’t just a marketing buzzword. When marketers truly understand the extent of brand equity, they can leverage it to generate more sales and long-term loyalty.
Think about the last time you had to purchase a computer, for example. Did a certain brand come to mind? Did you start looking at current products or sales from that brand? Did you choose that brand based on recommendations or previous personal experience with that brand?
A large slice of brand equity comes from trust. Over time, as customers use your products and enjoy consistent, positive experiences with your brand, your equity grows. As a result, you can expect the following outcomes:
- Market leadership, or at least more favorability to buyers than other brands
- Greater revenue and profits when consumers choose your brand over another even if it costs more
- Future purchasing opportunities when consumers recall your brand over another and have positive sentiments about your brand
All that said, the quality of your product or service isn’t the only thing that influences your brand equity. Public opinion plays a big role in shaping other peoples’ perceptions about your brand and its reputation.
People feel comfortable buying from brands that other people recommend. They feel it’s less of a risk, especially if you’re a new company or a brand they’ve never heard of. Plus, the more they hear about a brand or product, the more comfortable they feel buying it.
But even if you do have the best product on the market, a bad review or negative publicity can quickly make people think otherwise. More than 91% of consumers aged 18-34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Generating too much negative publicity can quickly kill sales and damage your reputation. That’s why it’s essential to tune into what others are saying about you so you can maximize positive publicity and shut down negativity before it spreads.
6 Ways to Measure Brand Equity with Social Listening Tools
Today’s digital marketers have a seemingly bottomless toolkit to execute and support their strategies. One item that deserves a spot here is a social listening platform.
Social listening tools allow brands to keep tabs on what’s being said about them across multiple channels. Not to be confused with social media tracking tools, social listening tools monitor the where and why behind what people are saying. They put context alongside content so that you can gain a better sense of your audience’s sentiments.
With social listening data, brands can understand what’s being said about their brand, who is saying it, and why they’re saying it. Then, you can use that data to prepare a response and become part of those conversations.
How exactly does social listening tie into brand equity? It’s simple: when you know when people are speaking positively of your brand, you can adjust your marketing to cater to the things people love about you. And when you know that people are speaking negatively about your brand, you can take quick action to curb any reputational damage and present yourself in a better light.
Here are some ways that you can use social listening tools to address both sides of this same coin:
1. Measure Brand Awareness
Brand awareness refers to how popular or well-known your brand is among your target audience. The greater the brand awareness, the more potential customers that will choose you when they need what you offer.
In the past, brand awareness was largely measured through focus groups, surveys, and consumer research. Market researchers would ask questions related to a customer’s intent to buy something, whether they knew of a specific brand, whether they have bought from a brand in the past, and whether they may buy from that brand again.
Today, social listening tools can help you measure brand awareness by seeing how often you appear in conversations across social media. It monitors your share of voice compared to other brands in your niche and tracks mentions of your brand name and branded keywords. It can also review website search volumes of your brand or branded keywords to see who is thinking about your brand but not necessarily talking about it to others.
Measuring brand awareness can be helpful in knowing how much of your target audience you’ve already reached and how much of your addressable market is still untouched. If you aren’t generating much buzz on social media (positive or negative), then a brand awareness campaign might become a top priority. After all, you can’t grow your brand equity if too few people know about you.
2. Track Consumer Sentiments in Real Time
A person’s perception of a brand when listening to the opinions of others hinge on two things: what’s being said and how it’s being said. It’s not enough for brands to get a feel for what people are saying about them. They also need to understand why those things are said and what they ultimately mean.
That’s why good social listening tools do more than just “listen.” They should also analyze. Linkfluence’s AI consumer intelligence tools monitor for brand mentions and relevant keywords, then drill down another layer to uncover the meaning behind the mentions.
What’s more, AI consumer intelligence tools work in real time across a myriad of platforms and channels. This gives brands an up-to-the-minute look at how their customers feel about them. This instant insight can be particularly helpful if a brand is trying to recover from negative publicity. You can see just how your PR efforts are moving the needle and changing the narrative among your audience.
3. Identify Potential Influencers and Content Creators
There’s truly nothing more flattering for a brand than to see your biggest brand fans creating content on your behalf. User-generated content is a clear sign that your brand is doing something right. It’s inspired someone to create content on your behalf, which is just like free marketing.
The best brand influencers are those who are already advocates of your brand. They already know and love you. Finding organic content creators might lead you to your next big promotional campaign.
Use social listening tools to find your biggest fans and consider striking up a partnership. They’ll feel honored you took notice of their content. Plus, you’ll be able to tap into their audiences to expand your brand reach, create positive sentiments, and maintain the loyalty of your content creators.
4. Generate Competitive Benchmarks
Your customers and prospects aren’t the only ones talking about your brand. Your competitors might be using your name in their social media strategies, too. Even if they aren’t, their marketing and PR will most certainly have an effect on your brand. A great campaign can quickly shift conversations away from you, which means they might start taking customers and leads away from you.
Social listening tools can help you keep a finger on the pulse of your competition. When you notice a competitor stealing the spotlight, you can adapt your strategy to regain control and maintain your brand equity.
You can also use social listening to set a baseline with your competitors, such as market reach, share of voice, and brand desirability. Gauge these benchmarks over time to see how your PR and marketing are helping you to grow faster and become a preferred choice over the competition.
5. Understand Your Brand’s Relevance and Desirability
You might have a product that people need or want. But do they want it from you? That’s why brand relevance and desirability matter.
Take KMart for instance. The company sells a hodgepodge of items that people buy every day. But the brand has failed to maintain relevance and desirability in a modern era and is now on the brink of extinction.
It’s not the first, either: Blockbuster, Pan Am, and Circuit City have all gone the way of the buffalo. They didn’t evolve with consumer tastes and needs and eventually fell out of relevance.
Consumer intelligence tools give brands a heads-up that something is no longer resonating with consumers. These insights might not spell the end of days, but they can certainly put it on brands’ radars that they need to pay close attention to what today’s consumers need and want. Because consumer tastes and preferences evolve so quickly, every missed opportunity could be risky.
6. Gauge Brand Growth Over Time
With general metrics and values of your brand’s equity, you can start tracking your data over time to compare your branding efforts with outcomes. Ideally, your brand equity will only grow over time as more people become aware of your brand. Brand awareness is the gateway for conversations to happen, which can lead to user-generated content and an ability to align your brand with what consumers need and want from you.
As your brand grows, you can watch how your growth affects the competitors in your niche or industry.
At Linkfluence, we empower our consumer intelligence tools with AI and natural language processing to help brands dive deeper into their customers’ experiences. We take social listening to the next level by providing data on demand and turning it into usable insights that you can act on right away.
See Linkfluence in action when you request a demo.