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How to Calculate Share of Voice

March 15, 2017 - Content Marketing -
By: Chris Riley

What is Share of Voice, and how do you measure it?

All your marketing creativity has to be harnessed for one thing—revenue. In saturated markets, that’s not easy. You have to build a relationship with the market with practices like influencer marketing. It takes a lot of effort, and it can be hard to connect that effort to success because measuring the impact of your influencer marketing is complicated, and sometimes not easily tied to typical metrics.

Because reconciling something as subjective as a company’s relationship and rapport with the market is very difficult, we tend to stick to metrics because of their familiarity, not their relevance to our question. CPR, Unique Visits, and Market Qualified Leads give us numbers that are easy to report on, and we stick with them. However, these metrics are not enough—100% commitment to them does not give the whole picture,  nor does it support healthy and active marketing efforts. The goal of influencer content marketing is to extend and deepen customer lifetime value by creating a unique relationship. Visits don’t measure relationships.

What should you measure?   

The two best metrics for influencer marketing are share of voice and engagement. Unlike definitions of share of voice in public relations and advertising, Influencer share of voice is a measurement of the percentage of content that originates from references, or refers visitors to your product/content in any given relevant industry topic. It’s literally how much of a say you have in a specific conversation within your industry and among your customers.

Engagement is a measure of how attractive your influencer content is—how many people interact or share your content without a prompt.

In other words, they found it, and it spoke to them.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as net promoter score, and brand awareness, are other potential metrics that could be right for your company. But they are for the brand only, not your success in individual topic areas.

The definition of Share of Voice (SOV)  has fundamentally changed, whether you are calculating marketing or advertising share of voice, because of the way digital content and digital advertising is evolving. This means the definition is also dynamic—You have to constantly evaluate share of voice based on the “conversation” and the time frame in a shifting environment.

How do I calculate Share of Voice?

The measurement definition is not complex. How you calculate share of voice is. Think of share of voice as a stock portfolio. You want to know what portion of each stock you own, and each stock represents topic areas you want to dominate. For example, let’s take a DevOps vendor who sells release automation to developers. Their portfolio would likely consist of four DevOps terms:  DevOps, release automation, software delivery, and software delivery chain. In that term set, you hope to have some portion of each of these conversations. However, the term “DevOps” is very broad, so you will target a smaller portion, due to size and priority. Release automation is one term you particularly care about because it is exactly what you do, and most of the other vendors in this conversation will be competitors.

Your goal is to increase your position in all the target terms. You’ll know you have done well according to the delta from one period to the next—usually monthly.

To calculate this, you need to isolate every instance when and where the term comes up in social media and content. And when it comes if you participated, or were mentioned (good or bad), then you get a share. The number of shares you have—divided by the total number of instances of the conversation—is your share of voice.

The problem is that it’s not possible to get EVERY instance of the conversation—mostly because the venues where they appear do not allow you to do so, and the number moves. Fortunately, the law of big numbers helps greatly. A reasonable sample size is very accurate, as long as the sample size is diverse enough.

But you don’t need to measure it (yet)

The most important takeaway from the definition of Share of Voice is that it measures the impact of influencer and content marketing over time. Using leads or unique visits alone can give misleading information about the effectiveness of these campaigns, because they are only a function of engagement. Making decisions without a good estimate of SOV can lead to false conclusions, abandoned or bad campaigns, and ultimately, a failure to break through the noise.

Fixate is currently building a platform, Re:each, that companies can use to optimize their campaign share of voice. The Re:each platform is in alpha. Contact us to stay in touch about Re:each availability.


Chris Riley (@HoardingInfo) is a technologist who has spent 12 years helping organizations transition from traditional development practices to a modern set of culture, processes and tooling. In addition to being a research analyst, he is an O’Reilly author, regular speaker, and subject matter expert in the areas of DevOps strategy and culture. Chris believes the biggest challenges faced in the tech market are not tools, but rather people and planning.

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