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Share of Conversation How Big News Events Affect Share of Voice

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Turner Sblendorio

September 7, 2017

Often the unintended consequences of a big event for a technical company are unrelated to the values, mission, or purpose of the company. These can include:

  • Acquisitions
  • Change of position
  • Outages or product malfunctions
  • An excellent or controversial blog

These events, both positive and negative, affect a company’s share of voice. The goal of controlling SOV is to create publicity about a product. This publicity translates to leads, which translates to customers, and therefore sales and profit.

Examples of strategic share of voice wins from the news

SOV wins from disruptive news

When Cisco acquired AppDynamics in Q1 of 2017, the company controlled nearly all conversation around application performance monitoring. The move was somewhat of a surprise, as Appdynamics was on the verge of an IPO, and Cisco’s steep price of $3.7 billion shook the tech startup world. For the next few months, and even today, when doing a Google search of “appdynamics” or “APM monitoring tools,” stories about the purchase and its effect remain visible on the first search results page. The positive effect of this news reverberated throughout the tech world for quite some time, and gained Appdynamics and Cisco significant visibility.

SOV wins from negative news

Big news is not always positive: On January 31st of this year, GitLab discovered they had an ineffective backup system, resulting in the loss of data for individual users. This was a massive problem for the GitLab team, but the way they handled the damage and fallback is textbook in how to handle negative PR.

One example is an interaction between users “DanielDent” and “Perihelion” (who appears to be a member of the GitLab team), which went as follows on Y Combinator‘s media site HackerNews:


“I’m a huge Gitlab fan. But I long ago lost faith in their ability to run a productive service at scale.”

(The user then goes on to offer criticism of the platform.)

Perihelion responded: “Hey Daniel, I want to thank you for your candid feedback. Rest assured that this sort of thing makes it back to the team and is truly appreciated no matter how harsh it is. You’re absolutely right — we need to do better. We’re aware of several issues related to the .com service, mostly focused on reliability and speed, and have prioritized these issues this quarter. The site is down so I can’t link directly, but here’s a link to a cached version of the issue where we’re discussing all of this if you’d like to chime in once things are back up: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:YgzBJm

Let’s give credit where credit is due to the GitLab team. Hacker News is a prominent site for all things coding-related. GitLab correctly identified where their target market was, discussing the outage and responding effectively. It was a worst-case scenario for the team over at GitLab, but they were able to admit fault and work through it.

The takeaway

A newsworthy conversation can be about either a negative or positive headline. How a company leverages the conversation can turn either into a share of voice win if it can own the conversation.  If a company understands where its customers go to “converse,” and shapes the conversation, it can avoid defeat.