Will Social Listening Supplant Brand Health Tracking?

Marketers have long relied on brand health trackers to take the consumer pulse of their brand-- to measure brand awareness, consideration and purchase intent. But with so many customers’ opinions now readily available through social chatter, are these entrenched and expensive budget line items still necessary?  
Not so fast.  Today’s brand measurement world is more complex than ever. Consumer behavior is changing rapidly and marketers have gone from data famine to feast.  Today’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) needs trusted advisors to help her turn mountains of data into actionable insights. Forrester has identified three core disciplines of brand measurement to help marketing leaders navigate this complex landscape.  These three disciplines are:
  • Brand equity reveals what people feel about your brand. Evaluating brand equity helps CMOs understand how consumers perceive a brand, without consideration for brand usage. What does the brand stand for in the eyes of a consumer?
  • Brand health quantifies the strength of a brand in the marketplace. Measuring brand health helps CMOs understand the relationship between how consumers perceive a brand and how that manifests itself in the marketplace relative to competition. 
  • Brand value quantifies a brand as a financial asset. Quantifying brand value helps chief financial officers (CFOs) understand the financial value of a brand to a corporation. It is most commonly used for financial reporting to define goodwill, the value of an acquisition, or the appropriate price for licensing. 
Serving this landscape is a plethora of vendors, polarized between strategic advisors and data providers. In this landscape:
  • Social Listening serves as a complement, not a replacement to brand health measurement. Social listening opens up a whole new window into consumers’ attitudes and actions.  Vendors like Crimson Hexagon, Visible Technologies and Networked Insights help marketers listen to real time conversation about their brand. But social listening is better suited to understanding your customer’s recent experience – a bad flight, a cool movie, lackluster service - than deep rooted brand perceptions.  Or to mine for real time data insights – like Samsung did for the rapid development of its successful Apple fan boy mocking TV spots. 
  • Established brand health vendors will merge methodologies to continue their lead. The brand establishment vendors - like Millward Brown, Interbrand, Ipsos and BAV Consulting - are deeply entrenched with their time-honored models.  But they are looking forward, not stuck in the past.  Most incorporate social insights into their research, a few experiment with the nascent field of Neuroscience while others test new methodologies -like 5 minute mobile surveys-more attuned to the behaviors of perpetually connected consumers. 
To learn more about the future of the brand health measurement landscape, check out my new report “Brand Health Measurement Is Ripe For Digital Disruption.”  And tell me, what’s your biggest brand measurement challenge?


Social Listening Led by Brand Activity on Social Channels

Social listening can help organisations understand where and how their customers are talking and also highlight where, they as an organisations are successfully engaging with or leading conversations with their customers.

Looking at a range of brands over the same 6 month period, you can clearly see patterns in customer conversations and this is usually reflected in the type of conversations being driven by the organisation itself.

If a brand is actively running online campaigns across multiple channels and there is a large enough group of customers who follow and share these campaigns or promotions then the impact on general sentiment of online conversations is positive.

On the other hand if the online conversations are driven by the customer service/support areas of the business then the conversations could be perceived to be largely neutral or negative. Mainly due to the fact that they are looking for an picking up customer complaints, product or service issues.

Using social platforms like Crimson Hexagon, who have a historical data warehouse, which allows you to look at and understand conversations not only about your brand but also look at how other companies are managing their activities online.

For social to be a good indicator of brand health then there needs to be a balanced approach across an organization and the different teams, need to work together to ensure that there is a balance of conversations taking place, which better reflect the general view of the organisation or brand online.

When organisations understand where the different conversations are taking place, which customer segment is having, which conversations, and they understand how to put a value on them, then social will be able to be a better predictor of brand health, but at the moment, it is too focused in one area, which currently has the potential to skew the results, depending on whether it is marketing/promotions based or customer service/complaint resolution focused.