The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Metrics: Sentiment

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Social media can be an incredibly important tool for your business. But it can also be overwhelming. You’re following what’s being said about your industry and brand, your team is trying to produce and share great content, you’re interacting with customers, finding prospects and you’re trying to make sense of it all. The biggest question you’re most likely trying to answer is if your work in social is helping you achieve real business results. To find out, you need to measure your efforts by tracking the right social media metrics.

Not sure where to start? In this blog series, we’ll break down the social metrics you should be tracking, describe how to measure them, and most importantly, explain how you can use them so you never miss out on important insights.

Last week, we kicked off the Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Metrics with mentions. Today, we’ll break down sentiment.


Sentiment refers to the emotion behind a social media mention online. It’s a way to measure the tone of the conversation—is the person happy, annoyed, angry? Sentiment adds important context to social conversations. Without it, measurement of mentions alone could be misleading. If you were measuring mentions for your company’s new product, you might assume a surge in mentions meant it was being well received. After all, more mentions = more people talking about the product. But what if all those mentions were negative?

Measuring sentiment will help you understand the overall feeling surrounding a particular subject, enabling you to create a broader and more complete picture of the social conversations that matter to you.

How to Measure Sentiment:

Measuring sentiment on your own can be quite a time commitment, depending on the size of the conversation. To record the sentiment of mentions, you would read each one, evaluate the tone and assign a score such as positive, negative or neutral.

There are a few free tools available that track and measure sentiment and quality social media marketing platforms will provide automatic sentiment analysis. Hootuite Insights (formerly uberVu via Hootsuite) uses a powerful automation tool to determine sentiment, which is based on machine learning technology. If a person was to tweet about their experience shopping at Sears, the sentiment would be determined based on the description words they use. “Such great deals at Sears!” would register as positive whereas “Customer service at Sears is the worst.” would register as negative.

How to Use Sentiment:

Evaluate Brand Health

  • Analyzing sentiment on a regular basis will help you understand people’s feelings towards your brand, company or your product or service.
  • Consider using a tool that provides automatic sentiment analysis to get a quick overview of your brand health without having to dive into each individual mention.

Head Off a Crisis

  • Watch your sentiment level for any signals that could indicate a dramatic shift in brand health.
  • A sudden spike in negative mentions could be an indication of a developing crisis. Loop in your PR department, dive into the mentions to find the cause, and establish a plan for handling the rise in negativity.

Competitive Research

  • Sentiment analysis can also be used to find how your brand or product is being perceived in comparison to your top competitors.
  • Keep an eye on the overall sentiment level of competitors and find opportunities (positive and negative) that you can use to shape your positioning against theirs.

Evaluate Campaigns and Other Initiatives

  • Use sentiment levels to measure the success of product launches, marketing campaigns or other new initiatives.
  • Track how levels change throughout the duration of the initiative to establish if it is being received positively or negatively. Consider adjusting your strategy if negativity rises.
  • Did your increased sentiment level remain post campaign? Use the sentiment research to inform and perfect future initiatives.

Did you miss the kick off to the Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Metrics? Check out day one: Measuring Mentions. Stay tuned tomorrow when we’ll break down reach and exposure.

See your brand’s sentiment in real time with Hootsuite Insights.