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Social media has become an important facet of companies' brand awareness strategies. Social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat provide visibility for celebrities and for companies like Boeing. Each post contributes to a company's brand awareness strategy and fuels exposure, reinforces benefits, extends the target audience and could occasionally diminish the brand through messaging posted on these networks.
But it's not always clear how to use these networks effectively. Companies sometimes struggle to identify what works and what doesn't in using social media to fuel a brand awareness strategy. In reality, there's no set of "correct" standards; as soon as brands think they've figured out a strategy, a new approach is born -- either through a new network or by using different techniques. However, there is a set of general "best practice" guidelines that, if used effectively, can boost your firm's social media impact and campaign success. Let's take a look at some of the ways that companies can measure brand awareness strategy effectiveness.
Measuring effectiveness of your brand awareness strategy
Visibility: One of the simplest tasks to accomplish and potentially the most difficult to measure is visibility. It's easy to post content on a network and measure the number of views. But simply posting content is not sufficient. When your brand is new to social media in general, new to a specific network or you're trying to promote a new campaign, it's difficult to know your audience is watching.
Unquestionably, the first step is to post content to the networks where your audience lives. Not every audience member uses on the same network, and not everyone on a given network will be a potential target. Spend time to determine which network makes the most sense. If your audience responds better to certain kinds of content -- short video clips rather than text, for example -- perhaps Vine should be a priority. Is your potential audience demographically predisposed to a specific network? Gen Xers are more engaged on Facebook, while Millennials will likely interact more frequently on Snapchat. This is not to say you shouldn't experiment on Tumblr or Instagram, even if you're core audience doesn't fit these communication channels. Instead, focus more attention on the networks and content types that make sense for your target audience.
In addition to network, identify the right times. Time of day is a critical factor in visibility. Many major networks have changed and continue to change their feed algorithms. This means that you first have to find the right time to initially post your content. Then, through amplification, engagement or sponsorship, keep that content in front of your target audience.
Relevancy: Relevancy is about appropriately targeting your content. In the context of a brand or a campaign, there's an inherent "promise" that you're making with your audience. This promise is an emphasis on a specific topic, around which a dynamic audience will form. This means every post, every tweet, video and picture must reinforce that promise. This level of consistency will feed relevancy and visibility. In other words, you're relevant in the way that you reinforce your brand awareness strategy. You're also visible in that the content you post will consistently show in searches and tag queries within a given topic scope. Use this to build your audience and strengthen the audience over time.
Once you're on the right networks and, presumably, posting the right content, measure your relevancy. This tool can be difficult to measure. But as a rule of thumb, engagement is a key indicator. Does the viewing audience like your posts on Twitter or Facebook? Are articles stored on Pocket for later review? Is your company or brand positively or negatively mentioned on Reddit? Do viewers comment on your YouTube videos?
This isn't to say that this anecdotal data will measure relevancy, but it be a guide to effectiveness. McDonald's all-day breakfast campaign, for example, had a campaign strength of 23% and a sentiment rating of 11:0, meaning the discussion frequency was relatively low, but overwhelmingly positive, two ratings that correlate with engagement. It also should be noted that these numbers are necessarily dynamic; trends are more important that individual, temporal readings. Further, "positive" and "negative" are subjective; depending on the content, you have to decide whether positive is truly positive.
Velocity: The final ingredient in a brand awareness strategy on social media investment is velocity. This concept describes how frequently you engage in activities within a given network, as well your audience's response. In the first case, it's about how often you might post on Tumblr, tweet on Twitter or start a discussion on LinkedIn. The second is pure engagement -- you and your audience taking action based on content.
Like your choice of networks and your audience, velocity varies. Your own velocity on any given network should and needs to be governed by your audience's expectations and habits. Every time you provide an update, it should inform or, presumably, trigger action within your audience. Are you posting about a new product offering? Your velocity might start slow and increase as you approach the product launch date. Are you live-streaming a product launch event? It's likely your velocity will be high and share micro-updates related to topics within the event.
Subsequently, each update cycle should be followed by some level of response by your audience. Tweets should be retweeted. Posts should be liked. Articles should be saved or shared. Measuring output and the subsequent audience response can guide ongoing velocity adjustment. You can also improve velocity and subsequent feedback. By using techniques such as amplifying updates using a core friendly audience, you can add velocity and visibility without creating update fatigue. In 2014, Bloomberg released a service that tracks trends and sentiment as another dimension to evaluate in making investment decisions. This is an example of using velocity to make decisions -- trends are the result of velocity, and sentiment can measure the feeling behind the trend.
There isn't one right answer on how to create an effective brand awareness strategy on social media channels. Different networks, audiences, campaigns and engagement techniques change your social media campaign's effectiveness. But by focusing on the three dimensions in this article -- visibility, relevancy and velocity -- firms can build a solid, successful brand awareness strategy.
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