The concept of brand equity is changing fast. In the digital era, social media conversations make up a growing part of how a brand is perceived by its customers.
To stay competitive, brands have to stay on top of what customers are saying about their products online. If you’re not measuring your social brand equity, you risk missing out on key opportunities.
This leads to an important question - as a global brand, how should you measure your social brand equity? What are the metrics you should be following, and how often should you track them?
In this post, we’ll look at a set of four key questions to define and measure your social brand equity, and introduce you to the measurement framework our social data research team uses to turn these questions into meaningful insights.
First, though, let’s start with a quick recap.
Social brand equity: a quick recap
Brand equity is the value of a brand’s perception amongst consumers.
For Apple, brand equity is about cutting edge innovation and creativity.
For Rolex, it’s about luxury and prestige.
For Nike, it’s about an active yet fashionable lifestyle.
Brand equity is a crucial asset, as it helps to differentiate one company’s products from another - it's why you're willing to pay over $1,000 for a phone, or $10,000 for a watch, when you can get the same product with the same functions at a fraction of the price. This is why companies spend so much time and effort marketing their products to create a distinct impression in the minds of consumers.
It’s possible to break brand equity down into tangible factors, such as sales revenue, market share and consumer satisfaction. However, there’s a lot about brand equity that’s hard to describe - for example, how individuals feel about specific products.
Or it was, until the advent of social media.
In the pre-social media age, consumers had a much smaller platform to voice opinions, but now, anyone can put on the boxing gloves and jump on Twitter.
This evolution in communication has given consumers the ability to influence brand equity, and has turned brand equity into a constant exchange.
Businesses now have to work hard to stay visible on social media, and respond proactively to customer queries.
On the flip side, this has created huge opportunities for companies to define and measure their brand equity. With social listening, companies can channel billions of daily exchanges to understand their brand equity as they form and evolve.
But how, exactly?
Social media data can be bewildering if you don’t know what you’re looking for - there’s such a rich range of data out there, it can be impossible to know where to begin.
And even if you do know which questions to ask, you still need to narrow down the relevant information to understand how social media exchanges can reveal brand equity in the eyes of consumers.
Luckily, the social media analysts from Linkfluence have managed to boil it down to four simple questions.
4 key questions for measuring social brand equity
Measuring social brand equity involves a focus on the following questions:
- How powerful is your brand? Is the brand seen and talked about? Is it generating awareness on social media?
- How desirable is your brand? Is the brand viewed in positive terms? Is the brand exposure on social media desirable?
- How engaging is your brand? Is the brand actively communicating to customers and fans? Is the brand encouraging its communities to share?
- How aligned is your brand? Is there a gap between the desired equity and the actual equity demonstrated on social media? If so, how do these differ?
If you can answer these questions with data-driven analysis, you’ll start to get a detailed and accurate picture of your social brand equity.
Now, as useful as these four questions are, they don’t give you a detailed measurement framework. To produce useful and actionable information, you need a market research methodology, with clear KPIs that can be tracked over time.
For this, Linkfluence developed its 'ADPR measurement framework'.
Our ADPR measurement framework
When it comes to tracking social brand equity, Linkfluence's goal was to find a consistent and comparable measurement framework any business can use.
To do this, it needed to define a set of metrics to match the conversations taking place on social media, rather than outdated metrics for traditional formats like TV or newspaper advertising.
Here’s what that looks like:
The ADPR framework focuses on the following measurable (but non-exhaustive) KPIs:
- What is your brand’s share of voice?
- Of the exchanges taking place online, what percentage concern your brand?
- Where do these exchanges take place around the world?
- What are the characteristics of the individuals involved?
- To what degree is the brand mentioned in positive terms?
- Which positive terms are most commonly associated with the brand?
- Who is most likely to view the brand in positive terms?
- Who is most likely to be critical of the brand?
- To what extent are individuals reacting to news about the brand?
- How frequently do people share about the brand, both as individuals and communities of interest?
- What percentage of online conversations are driven directly by a brand?
- How many exchanges between individuals and official accounts are there?
- To what degree does your desired brand equity or values match the actual brand equity demonstrated on social media?
- Are your products discussed online in a manner consistent with the brand pillars? For example, are people talking about Apple products consistent with Apple’s focus on innovation, style, and creativity?
- Where there are differences, what are the factors driving this? Can these differences be matched against specific events or campaigns?
By tracking these KPIs on an ongoing and real-time basis, brands can get a detailed representation of their brand equity, and can compare it to their competitors.
Using the ADPR framework in real time
One of the major limitations of traditional methods of brand equity tracking - like questionnaires, focus groups, and interviews - is their static nature.
Because of how long it takes, and how costly it is, traditional brand equity tracking is usually done annually, or bi-yearly at best, so you only get answers at a fixed point in time, and the results are hard to compare from year to year.
Social listening changes all that.
Rather than relying on pre-built and closed questionnaires, you can monitor online discussion in real-time, identifying emerging consumer trends from current data.
What's more, brands can access the data whenever they like, and can compare time periods to identify trends and patterns.
Doing so, however, requires us to set a few parameters first:
Once you’ve finalized these factors, you can start to answer some of the more specific questions above, and can aggregate the results into a single picture of social brand equity.
A visual representation of the ADPR framework could look like this:
This is an example of two competitors mapped out against the ADPR framework.
While 'Brand A' outperforms 'Brand B' in terms of consumer awareness and brand desirability, Brand B is viewed as being more engaging with its customer base, and more consistent with its brand pillars.
What can you do with this information?
To begin with, Brand A could focus on reflecting its brand pillars more closely within its advertising campaigns. while Brand B could invest in a broader marketing approach, boosting a wider awareness of its products.
Obviously, this is just one way to compare two brands and one way to leverage the information. The possibilities are, quite literally, endless.
Measuring social brand equity: the practical benefits
Enough about the theoretical stuff. Now, we’ll run through the practical benefits of measuring your social brand equity with the ADPR framework.
Fine-tuning your marketing activities
Rather than getting a broad and simplistic description of social brand equity, you could pinpoint precisely where your brand is underperforming in terms of product awareness and desirability, enabling you to focus on expanding and emphasizing marketing efforts in specific channels.
Setting smarter engagement targets
Defining concrete targets beyond vanity metrics is one of the biggest challenges for social media teams. Once you start measuring your equity using awareness KPIs, like the share of voice and geolocation, you can set informed social media engagement targets across different markets. Which brand pillars or values would you like to improve on over the next quarter? Social brand equity helps define your goals in concrete terms.
Getting closer to your customers
By tracking your social brand equity, you can learn how consumers appropriate and relate to your brand. For example, Aperol could detect their brand’s “moments of consumption” and find a higher level of enthusiasm for its Spritz products during the hot summer months.
They could then leverage this in their marketing campaign messaging or in choosing the right bars or on-trade partners to work with.
Proactively managing your online reputation
Tracking social brand equity enables you to proactively manage your online reputation, identifying risks and threats to brand equity as early as possible. This puts you in a better position to manage consumer concerns following emerging crises and would make it easier to contain or reverse the damage to your brand.
Understanding your competitors
Social brand equity is never measured in a silo, but always in comparison to other brands in your market. This helps you map out your competitive landscape, and helps you understand how visible or desirable each competing brand is. You can then use this information as inspiration for future marketing campaigns, as well as pinpointing product features to highlight, or customer segments to target.
Customizing the framework to suit your needs
No two brands are quite the same when it comes to tracking social brand equity.
For some businesses, awareness might be more important than brand desirability - in this case, you can adjust the measurement metrics to focus more on the overall share of voice than on sentiments associated with a brand.
For some specific situations, a little notoriety can be a good thing. For example, 'Dad Shoes' might be an acquired taste, but the brands producing them might be happy if part of the online discussion is critical, providing it’s still driving product visibility.
Some brands will focus more on tracking their awareness, while others are more interested in their relevance. That decision is yours. In short, ADPR framework is simply a customizable toolkit to measure your business and brand goals.
Stay on top of social brand equity with social listening
Defining and monitoring your social brand equity doesn’t have to be rocket science. By asking simple questions, and using the power of social listening, companies can get a detailed and picture of their social brand equity in real time.
Tracking social brand equity enables you to channel the billions of spontaneous interactions happening on social media. This complements existing research methods while providing a greater weight of explorable data.
Once you’ve defined your brand pillars and set your KPIs, there’s no need to wait until the next quarter to track your performance - you can start doing so right away.
This not only makes your brand equity tracking more responsive, but it also enables you to better understand the intangible part of brand equity: how people perceive and relate to your brand.