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Social Media Sentiment Analysis: Tools + 3-Step Method

Social media sentiment analysis tools will help you find out what your audience really thinks of you — and how you can improve.

Hannah Macready March 12, 2024
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Curious about what people really think of your brand, products, or campaigns? Forget follower counts and shares—social media sentiment analysis is the key.

Sentiment analysis on social media lets you monitor online discussions about your brand and competitors in real time. By analyzing sentiment, you can uncover valuable insights into customer perceptions.

Ready to dive in? We’ll show you how to conduct a step-by-step social media sentiment analysis with practical tips for improving your social media strategy.

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What is social media sentiment analysis?

Social media sentiment analysis is the process of collecting and analyzing information on the emotions behind how people talk about your brand on social media. Rather than a simple count of mentions or comments, sentiment analysis considers feelings and opinions.

Social media sentiment analysis is sometimes called “opinion mining.” That’s because it’s all about digging into the words and context of social posts to understand the opinions they reveal.

Measuring social sentiment is an important part of any social media monitoring plan.

How to run a social media sentiment analysis in 3 steps

Running a social media sentiment analysis program is both an art and a science. It’s not just about the tools you use, but how you use them. Let’s break it down.

1. Monitor your mentions

The first step of social media sentiment analysis is to find the conversations people are having about your brand online. The challenge is that they won’t always tag you in those conversations.

Fortunately, you can set up Hootsuite Streams to monitor social channels for all mentions of your brand, even when you’re not tagged. Here’s how to collect them all in one place.

In the Hootsuite dashboard, navigate to Streams. Then, choose New board to add a stream for each of your social accounts. This will track the mentions where people tag your accounts on social media.

Hootsuite dashboard with arrow pointing to new board button in streams

You might want to organize all of your Mentions streams into a Social Mentions board to make them easier to view at a glance.

On some social media platforms, you can even track the posts where you’re not tagged by monitoring hashtags and keywords related to your brand.

Be sure to create streams for your brand name and your product or service names. Again, a board can be a helpful way to organize all of these streams on one screen.

hootsuite mention stream shown in hootsuite dashboard

For more details on getting set up to track your mentions (tagged or not), check out our full post on social listening tools.

2. Analyze the sentiment in your mentions

Next, you’ll look for terms that indicate sentiment within your mentions. Think about the kinds of positive or negative words people might use to talk about your brand. Examples might include:

  • Positive: love, amazing, great, best, perfect
  • Negative: bad, awful, terrible, worst, hate
  • Neutral: okay, so-so, not bad, alright

There will likely be other terms specific to your product, brand, or industry. Make a list of positive and negative words and scan your mentions for posts that include these terms.

hootsuite app showing how to create an advanced twitter search stream

You can set Hootsuite up to do some of this work automatically. In the dashboard, create a search stream using your name plus :) to indicate positive sentiment. Then create a search stream using your name plus :( to indicate negative sentiment.

If you’re tracking sentiment manually, keep in mind that you need to watch out for the context. Is someone being sarcastic when they say they had “the best” customer experience with your brand?

3. Calculate your social sentiment score

You can calculate your social sentiment score in a couple of ways:

  • Positive mentions as a percentage of total mentions
  • Positive mentions as a percentage of mentions that include sentiment (removing neutral mentions)

Which method you use doesn’t really matter, as long as you are consistent. That’s because the most important thing to watch for is change.

The second method will always result in a higher score.

5 of the best social media sentiment analysis tools

Ready to put these strategies into action? Here are some of the best social media sentiment analysis tools available today.

1. Hootsuite Insightshootsuite streams dashboard showing mentions and sentiment across social media platforms

Hootsuite Streams is great, but if you’re tired of doing the math for social media sentiment analysis manually, you might consider Hootsuite Insights, an advanced real-time social media monitoring and sentiment analysis feature that does the math for you.

Available to enterprise plan customers and above, it allows you to track conversations across multiple platforms, languages and locations, identifying patterns and trends in customer attitudes.

It’s a must-have for any organization that considers social sentiment analysis a major component of their strategy.

Hootsuite Insights total mentions and mention volume over time

Other Hootsuite Insights features include:

  • Understand public perception of your brand, products, and campaign
  • Identify potential crisis situations before they escalate
  • Track the success of a marketing campaign with real-time data
  • Protect your reputations by quickly addressing negative sentiment
  • Find new business opportunities with customer insights

Hootsuite Insights also offers customizable dashboards and reports, making it easier to track sentiment over time and share insights with key stakeholders. Plus, it’s available within the same dashboard you use to schedule, post, track, and analyze your social posts.

2. Talkwalker

two duplicate tweets, one with a green flag and one with a red flag to show sentiment analysis

Source: Talkwalker

Talkwalker is another powerful social media sentiment analysis tool (available on its own or within Hootsuite). It allows you to monitor and analyze sentiment across multiple social media platforms, as well as in news articles, support tickets, and emails to give a complete view of your customer sentiment.

Because, let’s be honest, social media is not the only channel your customers are sharing their feelings on.

Additional Talkwalker features include:

  • Topic and brand mention tracking
  • Automated insights and reports
  • Real-time sentiment classification
  • AI-powered social listening technology to accurately classify sentiment

Talkwalker can also be seamlessly integrated with your Hootsuite dashboard, to make it easier to track and analyze sentiment in one central location. Download the Talkwalker for Hootsuite app and get access to over 150 million social data sources.

Psst: Hootsuite is set to acquire Talkwalker VERY SOON. This means that you will get access to Talkwalker social listening and analytics directly in your Hootsuite dashboard!

Hootsuite Talkwalker logo

3. Brand24

Brand24 mention alert negative

Source: Brand24

With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, social media sentiment analysis tools have become even more sophisticated and accurate. One example is Brand24, which uses AI to analyze sentiments in real time across social media platforms.

Gathering insights from 25 million online sources, Brand24 analyzes sentiment, identifies influencers, and even predicts possible crises before they happen. It also offers in-depth reporting and analytics, allowing you to track changes in sentiment over time and measure the impact of your social media efforts.

Additional Brand24 features include:

  • An easy-to-use analytics dashboard
  • Hashtag tracking
  • Support for 108 languages
  • Alerts for important changes in sentiment

4. Meltwater

hootsuite composer showing meltwater integration within the app

Source: Hootsuite Apps

For those looking for a comprehensive social media sentiment analysis tool that also includes brand monitoring and media intelligence, Meltwater is an excellent option.

In addition to tracking sentiment across various social media platforms, Meltwater also monitors news articles, blogs, forums and reviews to give you a complete view of your brand’s reputation. Its AI-powered analytics provide insights on customer sentiment, trends, influencers and more.

Other Meltwater features include:

  • Customizable dashboards and reports
  • Social media listening for over 100,000 news sources
  • Competitive benchmarking
  • Audience demographics and psychographics

Hootsuite users can benefit from the Meltwater integration, which allows for seamless tracking and analysis of social media sentiment right from your Hootsuite dashboard.

5. Idiomaticidiomatic dashboard showing large pie chart with sentiment value by ticket volume

Source: Idiomatic

If you’re looking for a social media sentiment analysis tool that specializes in customer feedback, Idiomatic is worth considering. It uses AI and natural language processing to analyze customer reviews, surveys, and other forms of feedback to understand overall sentiment toward your brand.

Some key features include:

  • Custom data labels and categories to fit your industry
  • Visualizations for daily, weekly, and monthly trends
  • Keyword search tool for quick analysis
  • Bi-directional data integration for automatic data transfer

Bonus: Free social media sentiment report template

To make your life easier, we’re giving away a free social media sentiment analysis report template. It’s designed to house all your valuable data in a convenient, easy-to-digest format. Download it, use it, and watch your social media sentiment strategy soar.

Bonus: Get a free social media sentiment report template to easily track audience sentiment over time.

9 ways to improve your brand sentiment on social media

Social media sentiment analysis tools can provide valuable insights into how your brand is perceived online. But how do you use these insights to improve your brand sentiment? Here are a few tips.

1. Know your audience

Understanding your audience and their preferences is key to improving brand sentiment on social media.

While sentiment analysis can give you an overall view of how your brand is perceived, it’s important to dig deeper and identify specific segments within your audience. This will help you tailor your messaging and content to better resonate with them.

For example, footwear brand Crocs was once marketed as an easy-to-wear beach and boat shoe. The company had some initial success but eventually petered out. That is, until they tuned into their customer sentiment.

It turns out consumers didn’t care about waterproof slip-ons or comfy boat shoes—they craved uniqueness and style. Crocs heard the message and responded by featuring the shoe in a 2018 Balenciaga show. From there, they upped the drama with a range of wild, crazy, and frankly, pretty strange offerings, like Shrek-themed Crocs and a collaboration with KFC.

It’s weird, but it worked. Crocs has 2.1 million followers on TikTok and saw an 11% boost in revenue last year.

2. Monitor and respond to negative sentiment

Have you ever posted about a negative brand experience on social media in the hope of getting a resolution? If the brand didn’t respond or responded negatively, chances are your opinion of that brand would take a hit. The same goes for your followers.

When sentiment analysis flags negative mentions of your brand, it’s important to take action. By responding to and addressing issues in a timely manner, you can turn a negative situation into a positive one and improve overall brand sentiment.

For example, if a customer complains about a faulty product on Twitter, a fast apology and offer to replace or refund the product could mean the difference between a lost customer and a lifelong one.

Take this example from bike brand Peloton, whose prompt response quickly turned this customer’s negative sentiment into a positive experience.

3. Improve customer service

Monitoring sentiment provides two major benefits for customer service and support:

  1. It can alert your teams to any new or emerging issues. You may even learn about issues with a particular product run or product. You can then prepare your team or even create social content that addresses issues directly.
  2. You can proactively reach out to people who may be having a challenging experience with your brand. A simple response or follow-up can often go a long way to resolve a customer issue before they even contact your team.

In this example, Air Canada’s X customer support team was able to resolve an issue and leave the customer happy even though they were not tagged.

4. Tweak brand messaging and product development

By following trends and investigating spikes in positive, negative, or neutral sentiment, you can learn what your audience really wants. This can give you a better idea of what kind of messaging you should post on each social network.

You may even gain insights that can impact your overall brand strategy and product development.

For example, Zoom monitored their social sentiment to uncover that teachers were struggling with some of the platform’s features. They then created a series of TikTok videos to clear up these issues, improving customer confidence.

@zoom

Zoom tips every teacher should know. Part 1 🧐📚 #edutok #learnontiktok #zoomteacher

♬ Sunrise – Official Sound Studio

They also regularly create videos to answer the most commonly asked customer questions on social media, thereby reducing the workload for the customer service team while highlighting new features. Some of the ideas for new features even came from social listening and analysis.

@zoom

Reply to @australiandols Try this feature if you haven’t yet 😉 #zoom #fyp #zoomprotips

♬ Fadeaway – Official Sound Studio

5. Understand where you stand in your niche

Brands cannot be all things to all people. Social sentiment can help you understand where you stand in your business niche. This, in turn, can help you reach the right audiences with the right messages at the right time.

For example, the production team at the media company Underknown launched a YouTube channel called “According to Science.” They told stories based on scientific research. But after 60 videos, the channel wasn’t growing.

After analyzing their data, the team realized that videos focused on survival got the most positive response. They tweaked their entire strategy and launched a new channel called “How to Survive.” The channel gained a million YouTube subscribers in only 18 months.

When they discovered their most positive responses came from Americans aged 18 to 34, they further adapted by creating short videos that live on TikTok and regularly get more than a million views.

6. Use influencer marketing

Influencers have the power to sway public opinion and greatly impact brand sentiment. By partnering with influencers who align with your brand values and have a strong following, you can reach a larger audience and potentially improve sentiment towards your brand.

Keep in mind that authenticity is key when working with influencers. Choose those who genuinely support your brand and are likely to create genuine content rather than simply promoting it for payment.

Take this example from Stanley brand and Queer Eye host and interior designer Bobby Berk, who is known for home-y vibes—just like Stanley.

Understanding the difference between macro and micro-influencers can also help you choose the right influencer for your brand and target audience.

7. Keep track of sentiment over time

Social media sentiment is constantly changing, so it’s important to regularly monitor and track changes in sentiment over time. This will allow you to see how your efforts are impacting brand sentiment and make adjustments as needed.

Stanley brand, which rose to viral fame this year with its trendy Quencher tumbler, recently took a big hit in the public forum when some influencers found traces of lead in their cups.

Stanley was quick to put out a statement that while they do use lead in their manufacturing process, there is no risk to consumers. While some negative sentiment remains online, trending videos supporting the Stanley brand definitely out number them.

Social media sentiment analysis tools like Hootsuite Insights and Hootsuite Analytics make it easy to track sentiment trends and measure the success of your social media strategies over time.

hootsuite insights by brandwatch dashboard showing visualizations for sentiment over time

You can even compare and contrast your own sentiment analysis on social media with that of your competitors, to better understand how your industry and audience needs may be changing.

industry benchmarks shown in hootsuite analytics

8. Play to your strengths

Not every brand can be the best at everything, and that’s okay. Identifying your strengths and focusing on promoting those can help you build a strong brand sentiment.

For example, fast food chain Wendy’s knows its customers value humor above all else. The brand goes out of its way to engage with customers in a funny way, even on posts it isn’t mentioned in.

On the other end of the spectrum are brands like Patagonia, which is known for its environmental and sustainability efforts. Its social media content regularly focuses on its philanthropic efforts and spotlights global projects aimed at protecting the environment—much to the delight of its customers.

9. Spot brand crises early

You never want your brand to fall into a crisis. But if it happens, monitoring social sentiment can help you spot the problem early. You can implement your crisis response plan to minimize negative sentiment or avoid it entirely.

In July of 2022, BMW’s social mentions spiked—but the engagement was not positive. Confusion ran rampant about a planned decision to sell subscription services for in-car functions. The Tweet that really set things off got 38,000 retweets and 208,000 likes.

The car company took 48 hours to reply to the heated seats controversy on Twitter, and another day to get an official statement up on its website. By then, the issue had gained significant media coverage, making it harder for BMW to undo the damage. Had they responded within the day, they might have been able to correct the narrative before it got out of control.

Setting up automatic alerts for spikes in mentions and sentiment is an important early-warning system for brand crisis management.

Why is social media sentiment analysis so important?

Social media sentiment analysis is important because it allows you to better understand how your brand is perceived online and make data-driven decisions to improve sentiment.

By taking the time to regularly analyze and act on this data, you can build a positive brand reputation that resonates with your target audience, ultimately driving business success.

Consider the brand Dove, which used social media sentiment analysis to identify a negative perception of their brand among feminists. They then launched the “Real Beauty” campaign, which celebrated and empowered women of all shapes, sizes, and colors. This not only resonated with their target audience but also greatly improved brand sentiment.

Or Duolingo, which, once learning its audience valued funny content, doubled down on its humorous tone and went fully unhinged. And, you know what? It worked. The brand saw a 43% revenue increase in 2023, and its audience is more loyal than ever.

Track social media sentiment—and manage all your profiles—from a single dashboard with Hootsuite. Schedule posts, respond to comments, measure performance, and more.

All your social media analytics in one place. Use Hootsuite to see what’s working and where to improve performance.

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By Hannah Macready

Hannah Macready is a freelance writer with 12 years of experience in social media and digital marketing. Her work has appeared in publications such as Fast Company and The Globe & Mail, and has been used in global social media campaigns for brands like Grosvenor Americas and Intuit Mailchimp. In her spare time, Hannah likes exploring the outdoors with her two dogs, Soup and Salad.

Read more by Hannah Macready

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