Episode #25: Why Share of Conversation is More Valuable Than Share of Voice

Hopefully, you’re listening to your customers (if not, jump back to Episode #2 to learn why you should). And if you’re listening to your customers, you’re probably measuring Share of Voice. That’s a great start, but measuring Share of Conversation is even better. In this episode we learn why Share of Conversation is so powerful, and look at how to get started.

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PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

CXM Experience, where experience is the new brand. Experience is so important we have it in our title twice: customer experience management experience. And I am Grad Conn CXO, chief experience officer at Sprinklr. And today we’re going to talk about listening. And we’re going to talk about share of voice versus share of conversation, which is a somewhat new concept I’m going to try to land.

So let me talk about listening first. A lot of people… we’ve talked about, listen, learn, love quite a bit over the last few weeks. And people get the idea that you need to listen to your customers. People somewhat get the idea that you need to listen to them across multiple channels, not just social platforms, there’s 24 of them. And not just messaging platforms, and there’s 11 of those. But also chat on your website. Also the apps you have. Also forums, of which there are millions. Blogs, of which there are millions. And review sites of which there are thousands. And all that customer feedback in common has to be pulled in together.

But how do you sort that out? Maybe what’s your maturity model? And, I think it’s easy to say buy 500 million mentions, and listen to everything. But if you don’t think through your maturity model, you may not be doing that in a scientific way.

So there are four levels in the maturity model for listening. Level one we’ll call monitoring. And monitoring is actually free or should be free. It’s free in Sprinklr. Unlimited free. These are messages directed at you. So someone who says, @GradConn or #CXMExperience, those monitoring mentions should be something I’m pulling in automatically. And that’s your most basic level of listening. Ironically, many people aren’t even doing that. It’s like letting the phone ring without answering it. Or letting people send them messages and not responding to them and not hearing them. So get on that. That’s level one. Maybe that’s level zero, but it’s certainly level one.

Level Two is people that are talking about you. So hey, I heard Grad Conn’s podcast the other day, and it really sucked, or the CXM Experience is super weird, because they say experience twice in the title, or things like that. They’re not actually addressing it to me. They’re not @ mentioning or hashtagging me. But they are talking about me. And I do want to hear that, I want to get that feedback and summarily dismiss it with hardly a thought. And so that’s o the second level. Very important to do that. I would say that if you’re not at least at level two in terms of listening maturity, you’re not actually operating a business in the 21st century.

Level Three is a little different. Level Three is a choice, it’s a good choice to make, I think any of our customers that are doing this well are at level three, which is: what are people saying about my competitors? What are people saying about other players in my field? I want to know what the comments are, helps me be competitive, helps me understand weaknesses and strengths of the people that I’m going to market against. So that’s level three, what are people saying about my competitors?

Level four is the most interesting level. And this is where I think people could unlock tremendous value. And they’re not really doing it as well as they could be, which is: what are people saying about the category? The general category itself. And this is where I think there’s two things happening. One, people talking about, say marathons, would be a really interesting target for shoe companies to go after. Or people who are experiencing life stage events, which is a pretty common thing. When you think about what people are putting on the conversation web, right? People are talking about moments, new job, new child, new family, new house, new city, new, new, new, new, new new. People talk about that a lot, because they’re events. Take pictures, show off your new car. And so when those things happen, there’s an opportunity for all sorts of different businesses to introduce themselves, because people will often make new brand choices when they’re going through a life change. And so that is level four. Category… listen to the category.

So let’s assume you’re a level four listener. How do you know how well you’re doing. So today, a lot of companies look at what they call share of voice. And share of voice is essentially mentions of a set of core keywords around the brand. And they usually stack rank themselves against other mentions for other companies. In a way share of voice, the way we’re expressing it in many ways on the conversation web, is not that different from the broadcast world. The broadcast world was, Downey ran 25 commercials last week, Snuggle ran 10 commercials last week, Downey had a higher share of voice.

We’re doing the same thing now when we come to the conversation web. But it’s a terrible way of measuring it. And the reason it’s terrible is it doesn’t take into account all the shares, and all the actual conversations people are actually having. Brand mentions and brand output are not really what happens in the conversation web. Brand mentions and brand output, the content you create is, is essentially a fire starter. It’s a stimulus to maybe get a conversation going. But what’s more important are the shares and the engagements. And what’s even more important than that, are the things that people are really talking about, and how do you engage in those conversations. And this is why level four listening is so important. You really want to be able to engage in the zeitgeist of the conversation stream out there. And then make your product brand or service part of that zeitgeist, versus yelling into a canyon on your own and hoping every once in a while you get some likes and some shares.

Let’s dig into this a little bit more, because what I’m proposing here, and some people have talked about this for a while. But it’s not really a share of voice. It’s a share of conversation. Share of conversation. And so let’s talk a little bit about what share of conversation would be right. So share of voice is limited to the brand and its competitors. And you can get some pretty charts out of it. But it’s really not how customers are thinking. Because conversations are what people are doing, and because they occur in a high volume 24/7 zone, people are having discussions. And it’s what your neighbor says that we care about the most. It’s the conversations. So it’s less important, what we say at a press conference. And it’s more important that someone’s talking on a Saturday morning on a forum that’s relevant to the brand. And you may not be participating in. If someone is talking about things that are relevant to your brand. And this is again, life stages, events, things that are happening in the world, and you’re not part of that conversation, then your share of conversation is very low.

Think of share of conversation as something that’s defined by the topics and conversations that your customers care about. They’re often not brand related, but they’re relevant to you. And generally speaking, share of conversation is anywhere from 20 to 100 times higher in volume than just share of voice. And if you want to do a really quick check on that, pick a company and do a quick search on it. And then pick the category the company plays in and do a quick search on that. And you’ll see there’s a radical difference between the two in terms of the results.

Let’s say you’re a cloud company, and you want to be relevant. Do you care about people talking about you? Or do you care about people talking about the cloud? If they’re talking about the cloud, then why are you not part of that conversation? Or if they’re influencers, and they’re having interesting conversations, why not invite them to talk about you, or with you, or to you, or to be part of that influencer network? How do you get understanding of what’s relevant to your brand?

I do think there’s a bit of work here that is very different from the way people normally operate. What I see a lot of brands do when they’re doing listening, is they simply listen to keywords that are essentially brand related. Which is fine. That’s not a bad idea. But that’s only really circle two of our listening maturity model. The brand operates in a context where it’s doing a job, right? People essentially hire your brand to do a job — Clay Christensen’s work from Innovators Dilemma. And so when people are hiring a brand to do a job, they have a general job category that your brand belongs to. So if you’re not listening to that general job category, which is the thing that is relevant to your brand, then you’re essentially missing out on all the conversations you need to be part of.

So share of conversation. I think is probably a next step in terms of the way we measure and share. It’s more about your relevance with the people who may decide to buy your product, because they’re talking about things that your product may do. And the next time your agency comes to you and talks about your share of voice, ask them what our share of conversation is. Ask for precision on who has influence, and why they believe that that’s important. And you’ll know if you’re becoming more important in the peer to peer world that we now live in.

So get into your customers head, get into your customers conversations, understand what they care about and what they’re doing, and what they’re talking about. Become part of that flow, and then measure your impact there. Don’t just look very narrowly at keywords about your brand and your key competitors.

And for the CXM Experience. This is Grad Conn, and have a great day and I’ll see you next time.