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How do people feel about your brand — right now? This question may seem basic. But it can be critically important for marketers, as it should inform every aspect of your content and marketing strategies.
Social media sentiment analysis gives brands an opportunity to track online conversations about themselves and their competitors in real time. At the same time, they gain quantifiable insights about how positively or negatively they are viewed.
Social media sentiment analysis makes sure you know how every brand choice affects brand loyalty and customer perception.
It may sound complex. But there are plenty of tools to help you gather and analyze the social data you need to understand exactly where your brand stands.
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Social media sentiment analysis is the process of collecting and analyzing information on how people talk about your brand on social media. Rather than a simple count of mentions or comments, sentiment analysis considers emotions 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.
In the section below, we get into some powerful tools you can use to help make social sentiment analysis faster, easier, and more accurate.
But if you’re not yet ready to invest in specialized social media sentiment analysis tools, you can get started with a bit of extra research.
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, add a stream for each of your social accounts. This will track the mentions where people tag your accounts on social.
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:
- For Instagram, you can monitor hashtags related to your products or brand name.
- For Twitter, you can use hashtags or keywords.
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.
For more details on getting set up to track your mentions, 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
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.
For Twitter, 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.
As we just said, Hootsuite is a powerful tool for collecting the data you need for sentiment analysis. These tools take things a step further by providing that analysis for you.
Hootsuite Insights powered by Brandwatch allows you to use detailed Boolean search strings to monitor social sentiment automatically. You’ll also get word clouds showing the most common words used to talk about your brand. Plus, charts that benchmark your social sentiment against your competitors.
In addition to positive and negative sentiment, Hootsuite Insights tracks specific emotions, like anger and joy, over time. This allows you to look for sudden changes, or ongoing trends. You can also filter sentiment by location or demographics, so you can see how sentiment varies across your audience. There’s also an AI analysis option to automatically identify the causes of significant changes in sentiment.
Alerts are another handy feature that allow you to be notified if there’s a sudden change in sentiment. Then you can get ahead of any issues before they get out of control.
Mentionlytics’s pitch is: “Discover everything that is being said about your brand, your competitors or any keyword.”
You can broaden the scope of your search to see what people are saying about your brand all over the internet. There’s a built-in sentiment analysis feature that works in multiple languages.
Digimind identifies and analyzes all the relevant conversations about your brand and competitors.
It pulls information from more than 850 million web sources, so you know you’re getting a comprehensive view of sentiment toward your brand.
You can also analyze mentions and apply filters to highly customize your sentiment analysis process.
Crowd Analyzer is an Arabic-language social listening and sentiment analysis tool. This is especially important for brands with an Arabic-speaking target audience. Other social sentiment tools do not generally have the capability to recognize sentiment in Arabic posts.
Source: Hootsuite App Directory
TalkWalker gathers information from more than 150 million sources. The tool then uses artificial intelligence to analyze sentiment, tone, emotions and much more.
Our social media sentiment report template provides the structure you need to create an impactful report to share with your team.
To use the template, click the File tab, then click Make a copy. This gives you your own copy of the template you can use every time you need to create a new social sentiment report
Bonus: Get a free social media sentiment report template to easily track audience sentiment over time.
The benefits of tracking social media sentiment are a little bit circular. For example, tracking social sentiment helps you better understand your audience, which in turn helps you improve social sentiment.
So, if you were paying attention to the benefits section above, these strategies might sound a little familiar…
- Know your audience: When you know your audience well, you can craft messaging that connects with them. Basically, it boils down to this: Give your audience more of what they want and less of what they don’t.
- Engage: Respond to comments, mentions, and direct messages. Maximize positive interactions while providing a quick resolution to any negative mentions.
- Play to your strengths: Use social sentiment to understand what your audience thinks is great about your brand — and what they think is not so hot. While you work on improving the lagging areas, play up your strengths. Provide value while remaining true to your brand identity.
A simple tally of your social mentions only tells you how much people are talking about your brand online. But what are they saying? Social media sentiment analysis helps you answer this question.
After all, a high number of mentions might look great at first glance. But if it’s a storm of negative posts, it might not be so great after all.
In July, 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 nearly 30,000 retweets and 225,000 likes.
This is wild — BMW is now selling a monthly subscription service for heated seats in your car.
• Monthly fee: $18
• Annual fee: $180
The car will come with all the necessary components, but payment is needed to remove a software block.
Welcome to microtransaction hell.
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) July 12, 2022
If the company had just been counting mentions, they could have thought they’d done something very right.
But the sentiment behind this increased activity was primarily negative. BMW was forced to clarify its subscription plans.
Let’s talk heated seats… ⤵️
— BMW USA (@BMWUSA) July 14, 2022
Here’s why your brand needs to track social sentiment.
1. Understand your audience
Marketers do their best work when they understand their audience. That means you need to understand how your audience feels about your brand, your social posts, and your campaigns, not just how much they mention you.
For example, White Castle used social listening and sentiment analysis to discover that their customers have a positive association with the very specific experience of eating White Castle sliders while watching TV in bed.
With this knowledge in hand, White Castle featured a couple eating sliders in bed in their next campaign.
Ongoing social media sentiment analysis can also alert you quickly when customer preferences and desires change.
2. Improve customer service
Monitoring sentiment provides two major benefits for customer service and support:
- 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.
- 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, Adobe’s Twitter customer support team was able to resolve an issue and leave the customer happy even though they were not tagged.
Feel free to reach out whenever needed. Thanks. ^RS
— Adobe Care (@AdobeCare) September 26, 2022
3. 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 clearer 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 the biggest negative myths about their product. They then created a series of TikTok videos to bust those myths, improving customer confidence.
They also created a series of “Pro Tips” videos to answer the most commonly asked questions on social, 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.
4. 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.
Social media sentiment analysis can also help you understand in which areas of your business you really excel, and what you might need to improve.
5. 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 the BMW example above, 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.
Track social media sentiment—and manage all your profiles—from a single dashboard with Hootsuite. Schedule posts, respond to comments, measure performance, and more.