The idea of brand authority is so elusive that it’s sometimes hard to know how to measure it. One way to calculate brand authority is to look at the tactical results of brand content.
But brand authority needs more strategic measurement. Indirect metrics may often be better to tell if a brand has authority.
Let’s look at brand authority more from a distance. What do we want to achieve from acquiring brand authority? Do we seek more level of trust from customers? Or more respect, and status as an industry leader? More comments on our thought-leadership content? More mentions in the press? More backlinks … or more quotations created out of our thoughts?
There is also a more interesting angle to brand authority. Things that seem counterproductive to your business may give you better brand authority.
For example, confidence in giving away some of your brand secrets could be a form of brand authority. Or confidence in hiding what’s special about you may also add to brand authority. It’s a complex conundrum but not unsolvable …
Some keywords may be significant to your niche or industry as a whole. Are you a specific brand searched for in Google with those keywords? If yes, you are scoring on brand authority.
Let’s take an example. Many brands may cater to fitness watches and fewer to runners’ watches. There may even be some huge electronics and digital brands in this space.
But are people Googling specifically for “Garmin’s runner watches”? If yes, a clear link exists between Garmin and runners’ watches. Garmin’s USP is runners’ watches. So this type of specific online search underscores Garmin’s brand authority.
There must be the desired search for a brand-related unique result. It then is a clear example of “industry-specific keywords used for your brand.”
You’d want to measure brand awareness per se as an important component of brand authority. But what’s the best way to know if you have enough brand awareness to escalate into brand authority?
Brand name searches on Google or other search engines could be one way to know if your name recognition has hit some highs. For example, let’s say you’re running a business called “Athletica” sportswear. Are people searching for “Athletica” (but not for sportswear) … yet the search returns your brand among the top rankers on sportswear? Your brand has earned authority in its niche.
It may help to dig deeper into analytics. See how many branded searches you got as against non-branded searches. Or check the volumes of brand searches you racked up against your own marketing goals.
What if people search for “sportswear” and Athletica is among the results? That, too, is a good score of brand authority. You can count it as a brand impression.
Many of us in content marketing may know of the “Skyscraper Technique” of Brian Dean (of Backlinko). He got a simple idea after reading the book “Contagious” by Jonah Berger. The book said if you want your blog posts to go viral, they must be “awe-inspiring.” That’s what people like to share or link to.
Brian cottoned on to the concept fast and began building “expanded lists posts.” There were the classic listicles like “10 ways to do this” or “8 ways to avoid that.” But he expanded each of the sub-points to include several sub-sub-points. In other words, he packed more into each article than the competition ever had.
He believed in building topics that are “an inch wide and a mile deep rather than an inch deep and a mile wide.” When it started working, he called it the “Skyscraper technique.” Amidst competitive blog posts two stories high, why not build a blog post that would be 35 stories high?
Brian Dean’s brand authority galloped. Millions of marketers started referring to all long-form content as “skyscrapers.” Brian’s brand authority has since arrogated many more “coined ideas” unique to him. He has created his own “genres” of online writing.
Media mentions are a good reflection of brand-and-customer trust … because reputed opinion-makers are showing esteem for your brand. Marketers often ask: can we ask for media mentions for brand authority? Or do they have to be spontaneous without any press releases to the media?
Organic brand mentions in the media are of a higher value to brand authority. They are better than seeding the media with press releases. But even so, the media’s readiness to mention your brand signals interest. They believe it would add value to their reading public. So that too is a brownie point earned.
Within the ambit of media coverage, we can analyze various factors of brand authority. Your brand authority is good if the media pulls through your press releases in volumes. The share of voice your brand has in the media versus competition also helps.
A question people often ask is whether all media is good. What about media that is not as flattering to your brand as you’d want? What if you get a mention among a list of brands that you don’t want to belong with. Well, media coverage is a double-edged sword. It can work in your favor or against you. A little self-promotion is good. Too much of it backfires. Use media coverage to learn how much push works and how much it doesn’t.
Online listening is rather different than monitoring social activity … or responding to the people who engage with your brand online. Sprout Social says it helps if you analyze conversations and trends happening. Listen beyond your brand, about your industry as a whole. You needn’t be a participant. But you can use insights gained from listening to make better marketing decisions or take better marketing efforts.
Good online listening helps you understand what people are saying about your brand. You also understand why, where, and how these conversations are happening.
There is a great audience insights tool for this called “Sparktoro” from Rand Fishkin. You type in your brand authority keywords and see what the social media channels, social media posts or forums are “also talking about”. You can see the correlation between discussions that interest your brand … and other topics that interest the same audience. You may be able to see how new concepts get associated with your brand authority as a result of customer experiences.
Online listening on social media networks also helps you get to the core of what people think of your brand. It helps you optimize campaigns, improve content strategy, and outpace competitive messaging.
To see how target audiences are appreciative of our brand authority, our blog and web traffic data help. For starters, are we getting the traffic we want or the traffic that is useless to us?
For brand awareness, quantity matters more than quality of traffic, conversions, and engagement. But for brand authority, the traffic quality and site usage depth are worth a keener study.
On the quality of traffic, we must be able to cream the top percentile of the audiences we covet. How are we then converting that traffic into subscribers and loyal audiences on our mailing lists? Are we aiming to build people we convert into potential customers, loyal customers, and brand ambassadors? These are the questions to ask.
Remember, people don’t always have to buy from you to become sold on you … and only after that recommend you to their friends and networks. Even non-buyers who think your brand authority is high may like to promote your brand. They may want to imply familiarity with your brand because it also rubs off on their authority.
It’s easier to judge brand authority with honest feedback from social media. Social reach, social counts, social engagement, referrals, and conversions … all these are suitable parameters to measure. They offer small but significant signals of growing brand authority.
One crucial area of social media to watch is the use of hashtags along with your brand mentions. Let’s take an example. Let’s say you have a restaurant for Italian food. When people share tweets or social posts about your restaurant, what hashtags do they tend to use? Do they restrict themselves to your brand name and type of food or one or two of your best dishes? Or do they have “descriptor” hashtags that add something about your reputation?
Would it not make a big difference if the hashtags were like “#PastaPlace” #italianoriginals #ReeseWitherspoonFavorite” … versus “#PastaPlace” #italianbestsellers #6minutetakeaway”? Who eats there as a hashtag could have a brand authority rub off. In contrast, the food and speed of service may not be as significant for brand authority building.
Remember, people don’t always give you their “hashtags” (though, if they do, it’s excellent!). But you could also seed ideas by hashtagging brand posts with names of celeb patrons – or other social proof. If you get a great hashtag that can work for your brand authority long-term, be sure to trademark it.
Customer surveys are invaluable tools of direct feedback from the people who matter. You can capture what they have to say about your brand authority before and after profitable customer actions. The words they use to describe your authority factors can be a fascinating exercise.
The Financial Times discovered people could be ardent followers of your brand’s thought-leadership. They may be willing to follow you and hold you in high esteem for your opinions, as much as your business values. “Thought-leadership following” has become an essential criterion for measuring brand authority. It’s referred to as “tribal subscription marketing strategy.”
Pursuing this idea, FT launched a new plan. The aim was to inspire business leaders to think about “responsible capitalism.” Articles included the theme … “the future of free enterprise and wealth creation by pursuing profit with purpose.”
Thought-leadership content, more than other types of content, by the purpose it espouses, can rally “tribal subscription.” Subscribers appear to gain from and give back to your brand authority.
1. Brand authority needs more strategic measurement. Indirect metrics may be better than direct metrics to tell if a brand has authority.
2. Some tactics counterproductive to your business may actually give you better brand authority. Contrary examples include giving away chargeable information freely … or withholding vital information to command authority.
3. Feel free to use my list of 8 ways to measure your brand authority. If you have more ideas, I’m always eager to hear them.
Brand authority is an elusive concept to capture in quantitative parameters of measurement. Three big directions I would try to measure would include: media and public interest; thought-leadership generated following; and, the association of industry keywords with the brand.
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