To start, let’s agree that many B2B companies gear their marketing initiatives towards building their brand awareness. That’s because brand awareness is an important indicator of how recognizable or popular your company is to your target audience.
When it comes to understanding brand awareness, social media is an invaluable channel. It gives you a bird’s eye view of how your prospects and customers perceive your company and how likely they are to recall your brand’s name. In the social media sphere, there are two commonly-used metrics that help monitor brand awareness:
The Common Way
Simply by tracking ‘reach’ you can understand the number of people who have been exposed to your brand’s name and content. It’s safe to assume that the more eyes you have viewing your content, the more recognizable your brand becomes.
The more people you reach, the more familiar they become with your brand and product. ‘Mentions’ (@) looks at the small-talk and conversations surrounding your brand name on social media. If people are mentioning your name in relevant posts, it means they are more aware of who you are and what you do. With a social listening tool, you can easily monitor and add up the number of times that your company name has been @mentioned. Doing so allows you to cut through the noise and filter the chatter that impacts your brand.
‘Common’ Is Not Good Enough
While brand awareness is undeniably a critical measurement of your marketing success, one of the biggest questions you should try answering is if brand awareness is helping you understand your real business results. In other words, does it help you quantify how social media is driving your broader business goals – revenue, customer growth, and so on.
One of your social media posts generated an astounding 200K impressions. Based on this result, you can conclude that lots of people were exposed to your brand. However, what you cannot establish, is whether those people became leads.
The Forrester Report revealed that when it comes to social media – and marketing as a whole – B2B marketers tend to focus on metrics such mentions and impressions because these are more convenient and easily trackable. Although they make you feel good, they don’t help you establish the true impact of social media on business outcomes.
Marketers must let go of vanity-based metrics — such as shares, likes, click-through rates, and impressions — and embrace metrics that clearly link marketing success to business value.
(Forrester Report, 2016)
Bottom line? Brand awareness in the context of social media should not be your sole focus. Perhaps a more accurate performance metric that you should be tracking on social (and never missing out on) is conversions.
Almost every social media management platform will provide you with some sort of analytics to track mentions, impressions, and engagement. What they may not provide you with is the ability to gauge the number of leads – or conversions – generated from your social media profiles, campaigns, and posts. In fact, according to Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 report, lead generation and sales, respectively, were the two most important B2B content marketing goals.
Therefore, instead of just focusing on the number of impressions generated by the webinar you’re promoting, you should put a bigger emphasis on how effective this webinar is at driving people to fill in the contact form and move down the sales funnel.
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The Better Alternative
For those of you who are looking to measure and grow brand awareness across social media, then one of the most effective ways to go about is through employee advocacy. Rather than simply getting your company to share content on social media, an advocacy program empowers employees to share YOUR company content across THEIR personal profiles.
Employee advocacy is an owned marketing channel and serves as a powerful device for understanding brand awareness. Just as you would look at the number of people reached by your company’s content, you can now look at the number of people reached by your employees. In terms of this metric, it has been proven that employees have a more significant impact on brand awareness. That’s because, on average, content shared by employees reaches 561% further than posts shared by your company.
Regardless of how big or small your company is, employees have the ability to boost your brand awareness far beyond your marketing team alone. Along with this, their trustworthy and authentic reputation creates a higher chance for messages to be heard and engaged with. So next time you want to understand how identifiable, popular, or admirable your company is, don’t solely rely on measuring reach and mentions generated by your company; take it a step further and add it up to the reach generated by your employees! As a great man once said, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Cover image by DMN3