In today’s world of endless data and frequently changing consumer sentiment, it’s become increasingly difficult to manage brand health.
Whether you’re a large multinational company or a small startup, you’re constantly interacting with consumers through traditional sales and marketing initiatives, and, nowadays, more and more through social media.
As Shiv Singh discusses on his blog Going Social Now, one of the key new brand health metrics is the SIM (Social Influence Marketing) Score. Created in 2009, it provides an accurate measure of how people perceive your brand on the social web in one specific moment in time. Singh highlights the cases of PepsiCo. and Toyota last year, both of which went through dramatic events that greatly influenced their brand health.
The fact is that your brand health is constantly fluctuating depending on how often you interact with and expose yourself to your customers. That’s why it’s crucial to monitor a few key brand health metrics over time. They’ll give you a better sense of where your product stands in the market and how people feel about it.
Christopher Stutzman of Forrester Research recommends that CMOs and marketing managers keep track of four key brand health metrics of digital influence.
Here they are, along a brief explanation of why they matter:
Yes, you can do quarterly or annual studies to measure consumer perceptions about your product on a given sample. But with 81 percent of US adults using social media today, you can now open brand tracking up to a lot more people and generate more brand impressions.
For example, Don Bulmer at Social Media Today provides some tips on using Twitter to help better understand your brand’s perception.
As mentioned above, brand tracking studies are performed too infrequently. This makes it hard to determine the impact of real-time consumer opinion. A good example of this is Kenneth Cole, which had a 64 percent decline in brand equity in just three days after it committed a significant social media sin earlier this year.
That blow to Kenneth Cole’s brand perception shows that companies need to adopt a better system that can track consumer opinions more closely and frequently.
Given the internet and social media, consumers can now present their unfiltered views of your product to millions of other consumers. If it’s a glaringly negative review or customers are making their concerns about your company known, it’s important to be proactive in handling it.
Brands like Nestle and Motrin didn’t do that and it significantly damaged their perception online. So make sure to track this factor when considering your brand’s health. Ask questions like: how visible is your brand, who’s talking about it, and what are they saying?
Gap and Starbucks are great examples of the volatility in brand sentiment. After both companies changed their long-established logos, they approached consumer sentiment in very different ways.
Gap, after receiving negative response about its new logo online, panicked and brought back its old logo within a week. Sure, the controversy sparked widespread debate and boosted customer engagement with the brand, but was it the kind of response Gap was hoping for?
Starbucks, on the other hand, was better equipped with years of consumer sentiment knowledge that was built from fostering intimate relationships with consumers through communities like its My Starbucks Idea platform. As a result, it handled the situation better and asked its consumers for their trust in the decision.
The lesson learned is the importance of tracking your brand sentiment volatility not only as a way to examine your brand’s health, but also as a means of better managing your customer relationships over time.
Take your brand’s online pulse
Mashable’s Maria Ogneva shares a few more tips for measuring your brand’s health through social media, while pointing out that there’s a significant difference between “monitoring” and “measuring” perception.
So, what are your customers saying about you? If you don’t know, it’s time to find out. Without understanding, monitoring, and measuring your brand online, it may be suffering without you knowing it.
Faria Rahman is a market research analyst with OpenView Labs. You can check out her blog, The Focal Point, for more tips and musings on the world of market research and analytics.