Social Media is a Terrible Way to Measure Your Brand

October 24, 2017

You might not have noticed, but the lights just went out.

Not at the flick of the switch, more like the gradual dimming over a period of a couple years.

Where social media used to shine a bright light on brands and consumers’ conversations about them, there is now just a dim flicker of illumination.


Dark Social

Because over the last few years, with the rise of Whatsapp, Snapchat and other 1-to-1 or small group messaging services (not to mention the resurgence of email), ‘dark social’ has stolen the limelight from social.

So much so, that the majority of conversations now take place away from the original ‘Big 3’ social networks of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and consumer behaviour has changed too.

social media listening.png

“84% of all sharing is now on dark social” - RadiumOne

For example, TechCrunch reports that “WhatsApp has 1 billion total daily users, 1.3 billion monthly users, sending 55 billion messages per day, including 4.5 billion photos and 1 billion videos.”

Yet you can’t track any of those conversations with traditional social media listening tools.

The reality is that dark social, email and offline is where the majority of consumer discussions about your brand actually happen. If you’re focusing only on the traditional ‘Big 3’ social networks, you are literally in the dark.

Social media listening tools - and the brands that have depended upon them - can only listen in on a small sliver of what people are really talking about.

social media monitoring.png

“Brandwatch doesn’t track dark social traffic” - Brandwatch


And generally when consumers are on social media, announcing things to the world, they’re only putting out a highly curated (read: not accurate) picture of themselves.

Just think about the behaviour you observe amongst your own friends and colleagues, and you’ll know this to be true.

Studies back it up too. For example a survey of 5000 students conducted by Digital Awareness UK found that “60% believed friends show a “fake version” of themselves on social media.”

Gen Z and Millennials, in particular, have wised up to the deal they make with social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

They know their data is sold and mined by brands, and that it’s publicly available to view. Therefore they ensure it’s the highly curated, acceptable persona they want to project to the outside world.

They save their real views and conversations for more personal 1:1 messaging apps, email and offline.

How are brands and social media listening tools responding? Well they’re not.

Dark Social.png

“Nobody really knows what the hell to do about it [dark social]” - eConsultancy

Savvy consumers

This is because consumers are increasingly savvy enough to block what they don’t want brands (or governments) to see and monitor.

Just look at the exploding growth of Tor, the ‘free software for enabling anonymous communication’ which hosts an entirely separate ‘dark web’ of activity.

Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 09.40.38.png


Where your brand is mentioned on the major social networks that can still be monitored, it will be motivated either by consumers wishing to praise or disparage it.

These are highly motivated individuals with a strong point of view - not the silent majority that makes up the bulk of your revenue - and therefore not the signals you want to base big decisions on.

This is why social media monitoring is now a terrible way to measure brand.

It provides you with only a tiny fraction of the conversations taking place about your brand, from a very small, biased sample of consumers.

It cannot provide a true, accurate picture of your brand’s strengths or weaknesses, general awareness, consumer sentiment or how it is trending. And for all the same reasons, it won’t provide you with accurate competitor intelligence.


But there is a solution, and in our new report ‘Brand Intelligence in the Age of Dark Social and Bad Data’ we show you how to turn the lights back on.

We’ll show you what leading brands do to remain relevant and win market share year in, year out.

We’ll show you how you too can access the intelligence needed to measure and improve your brand relevance, learn your competitor’s strengths and weakness, see trends in customer experience, and understand shifting market dynamics.

Download the report today and shine a light on your future success.

Brand Intelligence in the Age of Dark Social & Bad Data - Cover.png

Related posts

5 Perspectives on The Brands to Watch in 2018

Who's going to stand out this year? Will brands that took a battering in 2017 make a statement in 2018? Will it be the year of challenger brands or incumbents?

To bring you answers to these questions (and more), we reached out to 5 experts with very different backgrounds across startups, content, social media, experiential marketing and audio to share their unique perspectives on who are the brands to watch in 2018.

Alison Battisby, Founder, Avocado Social

Monzo: The digital mobile-only challenger bank saw nearly half a million new users sign up for its services and claim their bright orange bank cards last year. Monzo is a fantastic way to manage your budget thanks to their instant updates in the app showing you how much you've just spent, and provide added value when used abroad thanks to their free withdrawls up to £200. 

Having just received their full UK banking license from the FCA and PRA in 2017, Monzo is rolling out "the best current account in the world". With their slick app and excellent communication, they are playing to millennials by offering a unique customer experience and we're set to see even more new banking features in 2018. 
Sanctus:  The mental health startup based in London has the vision to create the world's first mental health gym, where people can go and work out their mental health fitness as they would their physical fitness. Right now, the company is working with businesses to create space within a company for people to take time off and talk to a Sanctus coach. In 2018, the company aims to work with 50 business partners and continue to spread awareness of mental health. Founder   James Routledge   writes an excellent weekly newsletter on mental health and growing the startup, which is honestly written and is well worth a read .
Neom Organics:  Hot off the heels of significant new investment, this Harrogate-based beauty and wellbeing brand is set to launch a new range of products in 2018, as well as new retail stores both in the UK and abroad. Neom was found by two friends, one of which was an ex Glamour magazine editor who realised her own wellbeing, and that of her close friends, was affected by the stress and demands of modern life. She quit journalism to train as an aromatherapist and nutritionist before founding Neom. The brand's products focus on improving people’s wellbeing through home fragrances and skincare. 
Adam Azor, Managing Director, Curb
My first pick is Pepsi. Lets be honest, Pepsi had an awful 2017 from a brand perspective, they created what they thought was going to be a work of advertising art, an ad that would change the world, but instead it turned them into a global laughing stock.
This is also on a backdrop of huge backlash and increased legislation against sugary drinks. The days when all they had to worry about was competing against Coca-Cola are probably looked on with nostalgia by the marketing team. However Pepsi are a brand with true marketing pedigree, iconic campaigns, partnerships and experiences.
I’m really interested to see how they come back. The test of a great brand is how they react when they are at their lowest. I will be watching Pepsi closely in 2018 to see what they have planned.

My second one to watch for 2018, is the darling of the Aim, BooHoo. The online based fashion retailer has gone through exceptional growth over the last few years, along with some very smart acquisitions.

However they are now at the point where brand building is becoming as important as performance marketing. I expect an innovative business such as BooHoo to evolve its marketing activity to ensure it not only continues its business growth but becomes a brand leader in its own right.

This will be a year to watch brands take the design aspect of their branding in new and exciting directions.

Posted by Mark Walker on January 16, 2018

10 Ways To Understand and Shift Your Brand Perception in 2018

Think you know what your brand represents? I’ll let you in on a little secret; it’s not what you say in your slogan, brand values or advertisements. It’s whatever consumers say you are.

Posted by Bel Booker on January 09, 2018

5 Things That the Strongest Brands Focus on

Nothing lasts forever.

Posted by Mark Walker on January 08, 2018

5 New Year Resolutions to Help Your Brand in 2018

New Year resolutions don't just have to be for individuals. The idea of improving, quitting bad habits and enjoying a more productive, successful year can be just as valid for business and teams. 

Here are some resolutions you may want to consider for your brand to avoid the pitfalls others experienced in 2017.

Posted by Alex Rees on January 05, 2018