Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Flipboard 0 The importance of understanding your brand perception in the era of digitalism cannot be overstated. People research, evaluate and purchase based on so many more factors and influences than they did a decade ago, and the consequences for brands are immense. Customers today are increasingly connected, informed and empowered, meaning they develop high expectations and are more demanding than ever before. Their opinions are paramount in determining your brand’s perception. The truth is, your brand is simply a mental creation to help consumers understand one company/product/service/industry over another. It is the accumulation of shared experiences, the volume and frequency of which people share is constantly rising. While social media continues to prosper, you risk an increasing loss of control over the definition of your brand. And I’m not just referring to the startups of today. Every brand is vulnerable. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos would say: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” So how do you find out what consumers really say and think about you, your products and services? And how does this compare to your competitors and the wider industry you operate in? 1/ Understand your brand before acting Although many marketers may believe they have a very strong understanding of what their brand stands for, it may not always be accurate. Perception is reality, so even though it’s tempting to jump right into online communities and share what you have to say, you first must understand the perceptions that people have about your brand. Listen before you act. Thanks to the inherent traceability of social media, you can start from scratch and embark upon a bit of research to quickly build a picture of your brand that reflects today’s reality easily through the use of a social listening tool. Today there is such a wealth of data available at our fingertips, which – if sliced and diced correctly – can yield tremendous insights. Ask yourself the following questions as often as possible: What is your brand’s share of voice compared to competitors? Does your share of voice vary over time/ across regions/different types of social media? Which of your products is most talked about? What is the overall sentiment towards your brand? How does sentiment about your brand change over time? What has caused spikes in conversation about your brand? What are the top topics talked about in relation to your brand? What do people like most about your brand or your products? 2/ Use the power of social listening Evidence from social listening tools and other research methods can help you uncover the truths about your brand and find the answer to these questions. Once you’ve worked out what the current perception is, and what you’d like it to be, it’s time to act on your findings. Considering that your data will impact your company’s strategy, you will want to base your findings on the largest data set possible. With an advanced social listening platform, you can filter, segment and categorize your data to find patterns, such as : By mention-type: complaint, referral, sales lead, customer inquiry, review, etc. By author-type: past/present or prospective customer, advocate, detractor, influencer, etc. By customer-type: first-time buyer, long-standing customer, age, sex, location, etc. By topic: customer service, product/service by name, product feature, etc. By sentiment: positive, negative, neutral By region: continent, country, state, etc. Take, for example, a consumer electronics corporation like Best Buy. By segmenting their data by their individual products (TV, mobile, computer, cameras, etc.) and mention type, their research teams can compare the standings among all their products. The insights gained from the patterns that emerge should inform the strategy direction of your brand; the stronger and the more frequent the patterns, the more global that perception. 3/ Expand your analysis for competitor benchmarking and greater brand context Once you’re happy with the results when tracking your brand and perhaps a few of your key competitors, you can really turn some strategic levers. By performing side-by-side comparisons between your company and your current or potential competitors, your management can gain a deeper understanding of your brand in the context of the industry. Competitor benchmarking will help them validate the company’s strategy and prepare a branding strategy in the event that the competitor enters the same market. 4/ Gain a competitive advantage A huge number of organizations have already initiated social listening into their business. Yet, many rarely use all that wealth of data to actually transform and inform efforts across the organization, meaning there’s a big window of opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. It’s never too late to re-evaluate and change what people think of your brand. The payoff is massive! According to one study, social media is responsible for the biggest shift in brand perception. In fact, social content exposure results in people being seven times more likely to spend or consume, when compared to PR or TV branding. However, creating content for social media is not the only way to act on your findings. How you should behave depends on what exactly it is that you have found. No amount of smart data will solve a customer issue or fix a faulty product by itself. Sometimes it will merely inform you of actions you must take across the organization to march in harmony with your customers. If you succeed to define a picture of your brand that you believe really reflects what people think, just know that you have something extremely valuable to act upon. Twitter Tweet Facebook Share Email This article originally appeared on Brandwatch and has been republished with permission.Find out how to syndicate your content with B2C Author: Kane Pepi Kane Pepi is an experienced financial and cryptocurrency writer with over 2,000+ published articles, guides, and market insights in the public domain. Expert niche subjects include asset valuation and analysis, portfolio management, and the prevention of financial crime. Kane is particularly skilled in explaining complex financial topics in a user-friendlyView full profile ›More by this author:VoIP Basics: Everything Beginners Should Know!Bitcoin Investment, Trading & Mining: The Ultimate Guide for BeginnersIs This a Better Way to Set Your 2020 Goals and Resolutions?