Share of voice

Sharing is caring: why you should care about your media share of voice

share of voice analysis is one of the oldest tools in the PR toolbox. Since we’ve been able to pull media mentions, we’ve been comparing groups of competitors. It helps us set KPIs, benchmark against competitors, and gain insight into what topics are cutting through in the media – it’s far from just an ego measurement.

Just like everything in our industry, digitalisation has taken over. Whether it’s traditional marketing efforts turning into digital marketing efforts, or in-person events to webinars, there is no getting away from the digital revolution. When it comes to share of voice, we now have a whole host of tools that have optimised the process, enabling us to provide even more value to our clients.

A share of voice exercise has value both for us as PRs and for our clients. However, there is far more to a share of voice than meets the eye. Well, at AMBITIOUS there is anyway.


The issue with the share of voice status quo

Although a traditional media share of voice analysis certainly has value, it’s ultimately a linear percentage figure. There is a limit to what it tells us and relying on it can actually be detrimental to strategy.

Because really, what does having the largest share of voice actually mean?

Not a lot if the quality of your brand mentions is low or if coverage is unfavourable. Business heads can obsess over this percentage. It’s simply misguided. What leaders should be concerning themselves with more so is:

What key conversation topics are we hitting with our coverage? 

Every company should have goals for topics they want to have authority on in the media. Without them, it’s simply a scattergun approach, which could well earn you a large overall share of voice, but does it turn the dial in terms of your brand and reputation? Probably not.

What is more likely to turn the dial is having a strong share of voice on the topics that really matter to your business and being able to demonstrate expertise on topics that your customers will resonate with. That’s why a brand’s share of voice needs to be viewed through the lens of business-critical topics.

What are the key media trends within the industry?

Widening the scope of the assessment, past that of your and your competitor’s media profiles, allows for inspiration. Looking at the issues that affect your industry at large will spark ideas that can inform strategy.

Riding trends within wider media conversations will drive coverage, improving the value and volume of your media mentions. 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?

Positive, negative, or neutral? The difference is pretty big. You could have the largest share of voice within your competitor set, but if 72% of that coverage is negative in sentiment, is that really a good thing?

The adage is that all publicity is good publicity, but let’s be honest, that’s never been true, has it? Bad media coverage is often what it says on the tin. It’s reputation damaging and bad for your brand. Therefore, assessing the sentiment of coverage is critical to properly assessing a media profile.

We will preface this with the fact that sentiment analysis is far from perfect; however, even a floored sentiment analysis is better than none at all.

What sort of publications are we getting into? 

If all your coverage is a mere fleeting mention in a regional paper no one has heard of, or worse, a university paper, then there is no real value in having a high percentage share of voice.

One well-written, topical, favourable piece of coverage in a true top-tier publication, is worth far more than 50 rubbish mentions. It’s food for thought that adds another layer of nuance to a media analysis.

What does the social media picture look like?

Social media mentions are where the true, unfiltered opinions come out. In this context, we aren’t looking at your company’s owned channels, we are looking into what the general public is saying about you on social media. Whether that is looking at the comments sections on your posts, direct mentions, or replies, major social media networks are where we will find the true views on your brand.

The media also plays out on social media, so we also need to look at the social reaction to your media mentions. Often social media mentions are where we get the most useful insights because they haven’t had to go through the media filter to get to publication. A social media platform doesn’t have to conform to the same standards as a traditional media platform, so, therefore, is more unfiltered in its nature, which lends itself to the insight we are looking for.

While this doesn’t directly factor into what share of voice analysis, it does add helpful colour that can inform media strategy, which is the ultimate aim of a share of voice activity anyway.

How does this impact Google search?

A Google search is the first thing a stakeholder does when trying to find out more about your business and online visibility is key. Therefore, how your media presence is affecting Google search is critical to understanding how big an effect your media coverage is having on your overall reputation. A favourable well-written article ranking on the first page of Google results for a branded search is hugely beneficial; however, on the flip side, a negative article can be hugely detrimental.

It should be clear that having the largest share of voice doesn’t equal having the best media profile. Far from it. Even a focus on the traditional ‘media profile’ is old hat. We need to look at the whole picture, including Google search and social media.

Our approach

We’ve enhanced how we measure share of voice to deliver clearer, deeper, and more varied insights for our clients. There is a variety of the share of voice tools that we use to conduct our research, so instead of just focusing on a singular percentage point, we aim to answer all of the questions we’ve laid out above. This gives a more holistic picture of a brand’s share of voice and allows us to create targeted media strategies.

By doing this, we paint the whole picture. By digging into trends, we can choose the ones to hop on and which to hop off. By looking at the sentiment, we can assess and seek to predict reputational threats. By looking at the type of publications our clients are featured in, we can gain deeper insight into which to target in the future. By linking media coverage to social media and Google SERPs, we can also inform our digital PR strategy.

We leverage a range of different tools to measure share of voice, including looking at brand mentions, trawling news websites, social listening tools to trawl social media platforms and specific social media accounts, conducting an organic search to determine search engine result page (SERP) configuration, and assessing other competitive metrics.

Accurate share of voice assessment

Ultimately, we are giving a varied assessment to determine not just market share but the quality of that share of voice. There is no one exact share of voice formula that will work for every client, so we look to adapt and use a combination of different assessments for each client. By following a formula that is linear, you risk stagnation. We want to provide a competitive analysis, so we need to tailor it depending on our client’s needs.

Once we have gained the relevant insight for each client, we can then use this to inform strategy. Firstly, looking to use our competitor research to properly benchmark and set realistic KPIs for media coverage. Then looking to set long-term strategic goals based on the topics and trends we have uncovered, and not just looking to increase the overall percentage share, with no clear goal attached.

Aside from the media, we can look to calculate the share of voice on a variety of other metrics. For example, looking at paid advertising and PPC share, or looking solely at owned social media channels, looking at the social media share of voice in terms of mentions, amongst other more specialist assessments, if relevant to the client.

This level of insight sets our clients free. Free from chasing that number one spot. Through the nuance, we can set specific, helpful objectives and gain the knowledge we need to achieve them.

Get in contact today to find out more: [email protected] or call us on 0117 905 1177.