Reading online reviews is a fundamental way to track consumers' opinions about your business. In the marketing industry, professionals refer to online commentary as social sentiment. Applying the feedback from social sentiment can enable you to identify risks to your brand reputation and build more appealing marketing strategies. In this article, we discuss the definition and importance of social sentiment and how to analyze online conversations about your brand.
What is social sentiment?
Social sentiment refers to online commentary about a brand. It represents how consumers feel about products, services and social media content. Consumers often share their opinions as posts on social media and discussion forums, and conversations can trend on online platforms, propelling a business into the spotlight.
Professionals monitor and interpret commentary in what's called social sentiment analysis. The data can include posts such as:
- Comments: Consumers can leave comments under a social media post and state their feelings. Increased engagement can cause the post to go viral and ignite more conversations on different platforms.
- Mentions: If a brand has a social media profile, users can tag the profile name in their posts, which notify the brand's social media manager that conversations are happening. Consumers may tag the brand to initiate a direct conversation on the platform.
- Microblogs: Social media users post concise blocks on text on microblogging platforms, including their opinions about a company. Other users can respond to the original post, creating a thread of comments.
Why is social sentiment important?
Social sentiment is important because it enables you to track opinions about your company and its products. As a public relations practitioner or business owner, monitoring social sentiment can also allow you to:
Identify consumer expectations: Consumers often express their expectations about products or services on social media. Reviewing the commentary can offer insight into their opinions, helping you evaluate the success of your promotional strategies. For example, if consumers have high expectations about your product before its launch on the market, then you can conclude your advertisements have successfully communicated the product's features and benefits.
Provide customer service: By building a social media presence for your brand, you can engage your customers directly on the online platforms. Suppose social sentiment reveals a customer who seeks clarification on using your brand's product. You can respond to the customer directly and resolve the issue, which helps your company maintain a positive reputation.
Refine your marketing techniques: Social media commentary can also include feedback from consumers on how to improve your brand. You can use the criticism to rebuild your marketing techniques. For example, if they comment your brand voice is inauthentic or your celebrity endorsement is incompatible with your messaging, then you know how to better engage your target audience for the future.
Understand how consumers distinguish your brand from others: From social sentiment monitoring, you can view how your target audiences perceive your brand from your competition. Evaluate if your brand identity, such as your slogan and logo, are identifiable to your consumers or if they're overshadowed by similar brands. Your analysis can help you develop your niche so your company can stand out on the market.
How to monitor social sentiment
Here are three steps to search social media commentary and analyze the data for your professional brand:
1. Invest in a sentiment analysis software
Comprehensive sentiment analysis may require a lot of time and effort from multiple professionals, especially if your brand has an extensive online presence. Investing in a specialized software can streamline the process and allow you to collect, organize and analyze your data in one place. Here are examples of analysis tools you can use for your social sentiment endeavors:
- Sprout Social
2. Search your brand's name on online platforms
Use the sentiment analysis tool to detect every mention of your brand on social media. Consumers may not always tag you in their comments, which alerts you when conversations about your company are taking place. That's why it's important to use strategic keywords to find commentary. For example, if your business name has more than one word, your customers may use acronyms to represent your brand online. Consider searching your official brand name and its variations to generate the most accurate results.
It may also be helpful to seek commentary on online forums and review sites, which can also offer insight into how your customers perceive your business. For instance, if you own a restaurant, reading the customer reviews from forums can help you improve the restaurant's reputation.
3. Organize the mentions into categories
The next step of sentiment analysis is placing the data into categories. Classification can enable you to differentiate between positive and negative mentions and determine which attitude is most prevalent. Devise specific terms to represent positivity and negativity. For example, a comment that includes the words "love" and "adore" may enter the positive category, while a comment with the words "disappointed" and "hate" may enter the negative category. You can also create a neutral classification, where consumers mention your brand but don't convey positive or negative attitudes.
4. Add context to the commentary
By themselves, positive and negative comments are not indications of your brand's reputation, which is why you can add context to assign meaning. Observe why consumers are discussing your brand online and when an influx of mentions occurred. For instance, if conversations ignited after a user expressed nostalgia about an old logo of your brand, then you can conclude your brand is memorable to your audience, and they may appreciate another launch of products.
In your observations, note the other keywords in the comments. For example, customers may write your brand name, a term and the name of your product, informing you how they feel about the product. If your goal is to analyze opinions about specific elements of your business, such as its offerings or recent announcements, then understanding the context of the mentions can be beneficial.
5. Consolidate your analysis into a report
Reporting the results of your sentiment analysis can distribute the information to your team and serve as records of your brand conversations at certain points in time. Here are examples of details you can include in your report:
- Total number of comments about your brand
- Number of positive comments
- Number of negative comments
- Ratio of positive to negative comments
- Graphs of how commentary changed over time
Applications of social sentiment
As a public relations specialist or business owner, you can apply social sentiment analysis in three ways:
Evaluation of your brand's health
The context of online commentary can represent the status of your brand reputation. Consider using the results of your analysis to create social media content that places your company in a positive light. If the data you collected represents a positive overview of your brand, then you can continue your efforts to maintain the brand's health.
Crisis communication is necessary when there is a negative conversation about your brand. Social sentiment analysis can reveal a sudden increase in negative comments, revealing a situation that you may need to address to restore customer trust and repair your brand's public image. For example, suppose you aired a commercial with a message about a controversial issue, and your audience members reacted in confusion, according to your sentiment monitoring. To steer the conversation, you release a statement clarifying your intentions and taking accountability for your actions.
Related: How To Implement Crisis Management
Research of the competition
Not only can you analyze commentary about your brand, but you can also monitor social sentiment about competing brands. Comparing the results of your analysis against the competition's reports can reveal your rank on the market, and you can learn what customers like and dislike about their products.
Tips for monitoring social sentiment
For additional details about monitoring social sentiment, consider following these tips:
Learn social media jargon
Consumers may use slang to express their opinions on social media. During your sentiment analysis, as you create terms to represent positive and negative reactions, consider including social media jargon to collect more data about your brand conversations. For example, consumers may write that they "stan" a product, which means they're fans of the product and how it works. They may also use catchy phrases from pop culture to convey their feelings. Study trends on social media that may influence the way your target audiences express themselves.
Analyze commentary before and after a campaign
Social sentiment analysis can help you prepare your marketing campaign and determine the success of your campaign. Study social media commentary before you launch your advertisements to gain insight into how consumers feel about your brand. For instance, if they appear excited about an upcoming product launch, then you may decide to release a brief commercial to continue to generate excitement and maintain relevance. If consumers feel overwhelmed by the launches of similar products, then you may decide to postpone your campaign until the conversation shifts.
Once the campaign has launched, your sentiment reports can show if your advertisements successfully engaged your target audiences, which can inform you to create similar content for the future. For example, if the consensus on social media was a character in your commercial was funny and authentic, then you can contemplate creating a series with that character to promote your product.
Rank the significance of your results
It's important to decipher the impact of social sentiment on your sales performance. As you study your results, you may realize the consumers conversing about your company may not be members of your target audience, and therefore may have little influence over your products sell on the market. For instance, suppose you promote a children's toy, and teenage social media users react negatively to the advertisements online. Although there are a lot of negative comments, your toy still sells out because it appealed to the parents of the children, not the teenagers who conveyed disinterest.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.