With thousands of cybersecurity vendors out there, it's tough enough to build an online brand presence, let alone maintain it at a world-class competitive level. Sentiment, mentions, content, engagement, topics, and trends are all areas that need to be addressed, ensuring that what the brand seeks to deliver is, well, on brand — and measurable.
Is this you?
Here's an example of tracking one such brand. Who it is doesn't really matter at this point. Because if you are just about any Silicon Valley-ish security vendor, this very well could be you. So, let's just talk about what it is we are seeing here.
Prior to this July, the blended online presence for this particular brand was strong, with a nice spike in late June to show for all their hard work. In fact, we went back an entire year and the noticed that this their noise level was pretty much established at what you can see before that big spike. Interestingly, that spike wasn't even a negative story, but rather a very positive one. But then into July, and their online presence drops to what looks to be about half of what it had historically been. Half! What's worse is that it's now pretty much neck and neck with one of their closest competitors (might want to look at our Competitive Intelligence post to learn more).
Is this by design?
Now, what you might be thinking is that this is somehow self-induced, perhaps quite intentional. Maybe they just stopped posting out job openings by proxy because they realized how woefully out of context they are. After all, "We are hiring! Now looking for a major account manager in Kuala Lumpur" coming as a tweet from the channel manager in Arkansas really adds no brand value. And we know this, so that data was already filtered out in all of our queries. And besides, our queries would have reflected that retroactively anyway.
Nope, there's something else going on here. It could be many things, such as:
- Competition: A competitor could very well be eating their lunch here, taking away mind share from their fan base.
- Diminished Loyalty/Evangelism: It's also possible that employees were once seeding the Internet with content that was then shared out by others (retweets, likes..) but is now, for whatever reason, not happening. Was the entire global sales team hit with a new and very unpopular compensation plan? Are sales and marketing just not energized?
- Content: Was there a big change in the marketing ranks that has measurably reduced the volume of original content being sourced from HQ? Did the HIPPO (Highest Paid Person's Opinion) come in and crash the party, even ignoring all the smart marketing data to the contrary?
- Off Brand: Is their message just drifting off brand and now failing to capture the attention of their historically significant fan base?
It's entirely likely that neither the CMO or CEO knows that this decline is happening. And the board is almost surely blissfully unaware. It's only when sales achievement targets are missed that many will take the time to do a postmortem analysis. But even then, if someone at the top thinks it implicates them in their role, it's much more likely to get covered up.
Who Should be Listening?
Obviously everyone in sales and marketing leadership roles should have near continuous visibility into how the brand is resonating, especially around any negative sentiment. They should see the their trending topics aligning with what the brand is pushing, at a scale that reflects the campaigns that are driving them. This is, after all, the feedback for the field that their efforts are paying off, which further drives their spirit.
Some security companies do this listening and scoring already and some are indeed getting good at it. But they are the outliers. Sadly, most are just missing this incredible opportunity to measure and then amplify their brand. From the ZecurityAscent point of view, the only direction to go is up and to the right.
Quite frankly, this is why we built the Brand Power service offering. CMOs need that critical, unbiased, outside perspective. Why? Because there is no hiding from the data. It's measured and scored externally, with little to no outside influence. Sure, data can be questioned and adjusted to better reflect the truth, but always with the eye on finding and then messaging back that truth.
Here are some sample questions that you would expect someone who is really listening to be on top of and ask when it matters the most:
- You ran what looked to be a solid campaign around (pick your subject). You also said that you expected the content to resonate for at least the next quarter, but we are seeing an aggressive decline in this as one of your trending topics. We also noticed what there are some negative comments from a few channels and a counter-campaign by one of your competitors. Here's our unbiased outside-in analysis and recommendations, including the competitive analysis. As you know, we are tracking each of your named competitors exactly as we are tracking you, so we have some really good listening and insight there. Given this, how you would like to proceed?
- We have been tracking all of your top brand influencers. In particular, we have a special category for each of your top executives and brand evangelists. Within this data we seek to measure the net promoter score (NPS) as a collective group (but also individually if you would like to see that data), as it gives us an indication on what the internal sentiment and energy levels are like. Given our assessment here, does it reflect what you are seeing inside the organization?
Please let me know if you would like to talk about this in much more detail.