Share of Voice: What Does It Mean and How To Calculate It

Jessica O'Kane
November 30, 2022
Last Updated On
Share of voice graphic

Share of Voice (SOV) has been around since before the Mad Men era of print advertising. Traditionally, this metric represented a brand’s share of a category’s total media spend (print ads, TV, radio). Brands used it to discern what their competitors were spending, ultimately determining how much the brand was willing to invest in ads. The formula was simple:

share of voice breakdown
Brand ad spend / total industry or category ad spend = SOV

Since then, marketing has expanded into this vast digital age of connectivity, where virtually every consumer touchpoint conflates with a data point. This is both good and bad news for marketers. While it’s great to have access to so much valuable data, it’s becoming exceedingly difficult to know what metrics to care about. 

If you’re keeping tabs on engagement trends for your brand, you’re on the right track—but do you know what lap you’re on? Are you even going in the right direction? This is where Share of Voice comes in. A vital metric to understand where your brand stands relative to your competition. 

SOV can (and should) be measured for SEO, PPC, social media, and beyond, all using a variation of the same simple formula above. SOV is particularly important to measure for any brand awareness initiatives. For this blog, we will focus on SOV for social media and what you can do to maximize your brand’s piece of the pie.

What Is Share of Voice for Social Media? 

Share of Voice for social media provides a measure of how much your brand is being talked about relative to your competitive set. Where traditional Mad Men-era SOV focused on how much brands spoke about themselves, social media SOV focuses on how others are talking about brands. This illustrates the profound impact of organic social media and why it is a vital ingredient for any successful 360° marketing strategy.

How To Calculate Share of Voice for Social Media 

A simple yet powerful metric to understand how much of the organic conversation your brand owns, SOV for social media is typically measured as a percentage of total mentions and tags (you can certainly include hashtags as well):

# of brand mentions and tags / total # of brand + competitor mentions and tags = SOV

This formula can be adapted to measure SOV around specific topics, for given timeframes, or more broadly, to understand how deeply your brand has penetrated the social conversation relative to the competition. While simple and adaptable, it takes work to track manually. 

Most social media management tools can provide you with the number of mentions and tags for your brand. Advanced tools should be able to report on these metrics for your competitive set as well. 

Now that we know how SOV for social media is measured let’s get into why you should measure SOV and how you can use this metric to level up on social. 

Why You Need to Measure Share of Voice on Your Social Channels

If you’re not already measuring SOV for social media, don’t worry, it’s not too late. SOV is in constant flux due to the always-on nature of social media discourse. If you’re a marketer, you can access so much information about your audience, competitive landscape, content, Grumpy Cat’s ancestral lineage, etc., at any given time.

In fact, the average person spent 147 minutes on social media every day in 2022 (you read that right, longer than the original Avengers movie). We don’t blame you if you’re not jotting down every piece of data that comes across your screen. 

That said, if you're going to measure one thing this quarter, make it SOV. This singular metric, while deceivingly easy to calculate, packs a punch. Below, we will discuss SOV's impact on campaign measurement and competitive analysis.

Campaign Measurement

When it comes down to it, winning campaigns follow the same criteria as S.M.A.R.T. goals. You might be surprised where SOV fits into this framework. Spoiler—it’s not just the “measurable” part.

Let’s break this down.

Specific: Social media campaigns typically focus on a specific product, a collection, an event, or overall brand awareness (in which case, the focus is the brand). While SOV can be used to assess a brand’s relevance on social as compared to its competitive set, it can also be applied to specific topics, hashtags, and events. 

Measurable: To win, you have to know what you’re ‘winning’ at (i.e., what you’re measuring). How else will you know if you’ve come out on top? If it’s not already, SOV will be your new favorite metric to measure success before and after a campaign. SOV will be different across social channels, depending on what channels your target audience favors. That’s ok! As long as you are measuring SOV, you’ll know where there is an opportunity for improvement.

Attainable: Campaign goals should be ambitious, but if they are wildly unattainable, you’re wasting valuable time (and money). SOV can be used to define what is attainable and what audiences to target and act as a yardstick. How much of the conversation are you looking to capture? Which competitors are dominating the conversation currently?

Relevant / Relatable: This one is two-pronged. Your campaign will be set up for success if you’ve defined your target audience (who is the campaign relating to?) and if you’ve connected the campaign’s goal to at least one of your company’s business objectives. SOV is a great metric to attach to brand awareness initiatives. 

Time-bound: It’s not a campaign if it runs forever! SOV should be recorded before, during, and after a campaign. If your campaign was successful, you should see incremental gains in SOV. 

When captured and leveraged effectively, SOV will not only shed light on a campaign’s performance across all of your key social channels; it will identify areas of opportunity for the future. 

You might be surprised at how SOV shifts for different channels. You may discover that Pinterest is your next campaign’s long-lost companion.

Competitive Analysis

As a marketer, it's your job to know how your brand is faring against the competition.    

Competitive analysis comes in many shapes and sizes. Back when Instagram served us content in chronological order, competitive analysis was as simple as following your competitors on Instagram. Those were simpler times. 

With evolution comes complexity. As social media apps have converged on the objective of keeping users engaged (i.e., keeping users on the app for as long as possible), algorithms seek entertaining and engaging content with masterful precision. 

Today, competitive analysis can either be a social media marketers' best friend or the bane of their existence. A great way to start your competitive analysis is by measuring SOV. This metric will give you a quick reality check, highlighting your brand's strengths and weaknesses and those of your competitors! 

For example, a beauty brand planning a campaign to support their holiday lip trio launch would want to know their SOV compared to competitors for the hashtag #lipgloss. This would highlight which brands are currently dominating the conversation, effectively narrowing the relevant competitive set for this particular campaign. 

All to say, with the right social media measurement tools in place, calculating SOV will immediately highlight areas of opportunity for your brand.

#Lipgloss graphic

Tips To Boost Your Share of Voice on Social Media

If you’re not quite where you want to be with your brand’s SOV, read on for some tips on how to improve.

Post Consistently

Post consistently and often across all of your social channels. The more you post, the better the chances of your content making it to the For You and Discovery pages, ultimately maximizing your brand’s organic reach potential. 

How often should you be posting? Check out Dash Hudson’s latest industry benchmarks to see your industry's average weekly posting cadence.

Post Entertaining Content

It’s no secret that entertaining content is winning right now. While brands once dominated content creation, it has been democratized with the advent of short-form video and easy in-app editing for creators. 

Consumer behavior has shifted dramatically since the pandemic, one of the most notable shifts being that people now primarily visit social platforms to be entertained. 

100+ million posts are uploaded to Instagram alone every day. If you’re looking to optimize your SOV, post entertaining content. Seek to bring joy. This will not only increase your SOV, but it has also been proven to generate more revenue from social for brands. 

Participate in the Conversation

Take the time to engage with your community in a meaningful way. 

Building community is at the heart of any successful social media strategy. Take K18 Hair, the biotech indie beauty brand that made headlines for its revenue growth in excess of 100% in 2021. 

How did they do this? The K18 marketing team set to work on building an organic community from the get-go and went viral on TikTok in 2021 with their #K18HairFlip Challenge (the hashtag #K18hair has 445 million views). If you check out K18’s TikTok profile, you’ll see a steady stream of comments and responses in each post. The mutual benefit from this two-way conversation on social media: K18 gets more organic reach (leading to greater SOV), and their audience feels heard. 

Anna Sitar for k18
K18 Hair

Lean Into Cultural Moments

Part of your social strategy should include having a voice outside of your own brand profile. Lean into cultural moments that align with your core brand values. Participate in conversation threads. People will respond, effectively broadening your brand’s reach. 

Today’s consumer seeks to build connections with brands based on common values before purchasing. Previously low-consideration purchases like toothpaste are becoming more involved and complex, drawing on sustainability mandates, for example. 

By leaning into cultural moments, brands have a unique opportunity to extend their identity and reach beyond social profiles, accessing potentially new audiences while annealing brand values in a public forum. 

Repost UGC

Reposting user-generated content (UGC) is an excellent way to incentivize your community to mention and tag your brand while deepening the connection with your audience. When leveraged effectively, UGC is the gift that keeps on giving! 

Be sure to request content rights if you plan on using UGC anywhere other than the original social channel (email campaigns, paid ads, on-site, etc.).

How Dash Hudson Can Help You Measure Share of Voice

The Dash Hudson platform, once entirely focused on Instagram insights, has evolved over the years to help social media marketers manage, track, and report on all of their key organic social channels. 

With Dash Hudson’s newly relaunched Competitive Insights, it is now easier than ever to gather insights and benchmark against your competition to understand where your brand stands in terms of SOV. 

Social media marketers can access broad and granular insights with Dash Hudson’s custom Dashboards. For example, with a couple of clicks, our platform can generate a competitive overview for any given timeframe. Are you looking to hone in on a competitor’s holiday campaign to compare it against your own? We can do that, too.

Dash Hudson has the tools you need to keep a pulse on your brand’s organic reach, tags, and mentions, with no digging required. All of your owned and earned content is seamlessly housed in one place. To top this off, content is sorted and prioritized based on predictive AI to indicate which photos and videos are likely to drive the most engagement for your brand. 

In summary, SOV is an incredibly helpful marketing metric. While simple to calculate, it requires robust data sets to paint a full and accurate picture of your competitive landscape, so looking into a more sophisticated social media measurement tool like Dash Hudson may be worthwhile. Are you looking to boost your SOV? Keep posting consistently, engage with your community, and seek to create joy.

FAQs

Why is share of voice important? 

Share of Voice (SOV) is an important metric to measure for any brand awareness initiatives. SOV is a simple yet powerful metric to understand how much of the organic conversation your brand owns relative to the competition. 

What is share of voice in social listening?

While SOV was historically used to assess how much brands talked about themselves through traditional print, PR, and media ads, in the modern context of social listening and social media, SOV is used to assess how much brands are being talked about by the greater social community.   

What is the difference between share of voice and share of conversation?

Share of conversation is a broader measurement that considers SOV, keywords, SEO factors, and earned media metrics.

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