Sentiment. It’s the reason you can’t throw away your old Action Man that swims in the bathtub, or your dad can’t throw away his mini disc collection.
We cherish what holds relevance or value to us. It makes us nostalgic, and nothing is more valuable than that. Money can’t buy sentiment, despite Antiques Roadshow’s best efforts.
So, what is social sentiment and how does it differ from the above?
Put simply, it’s a way of providing context through measuring the emotion behind interactions on social media. Allow me to elaborate:
Your campaign might be generating hundreds of responses, which on face-value might seem pretty sweet. However, not all dialogue is positive dialogue. Chances are some of your mentions will be negative, and these are just as important to measure as the good stuff.
Check your pulse
By analysing social sentiment regularly, you can start to paint a picture of how people feel about your brand or organisation. You can establish pain points and areas for improvement, as well as discover what people really love about what you do.
Your social strategy needs to grow along with your business. Social sentiment can help structure a brand health check. You know who the people you want to interact with are. How do they engage with other people? How do they tend to react to social messaging? For example, if they think automated DM’s are creepy then maybe you shouldn’t include them in your social media strategy.
I know what you’re thinking: “analysing the sentiment behind every mention I get on social media will take ages”. You’re right, it would take ages. But as with everything now, there are hundreds of tools that can do it for you. By using them, you can save time and gain some pretty unique insights.
Keys to success 🔑🔑🔑
I decided to look through some social sentiment tools so you don’t have to. #InvestigativeJournalism. I started by trying to gauge the social sentiment of my own name but it failed to come up with results.
So instead, I looked at how other topics faired in some social sentiment analysis tools.
SocialMention: As free tools go, this one offers plenty of value. You can search for a phrase across a wide range of social networks, and these results then get ranked as positive, neutral or negative. B2B marketing ranked as overwhelmingly neutral. #awkward
Aylien: This tool uses smart visuals and fast processing to produce sentiment reports on whole documents or particular aspects. I road tested it by classing Siegfried Sassoon’s ‘Suicide in the Trenches’ as a restaurant review. The results were incredibly accurate, with ‘Crumps and lice and lack of rum’ considered a less-than-glowing review for the fictional restaurant. Not to mention what happened after the lack of rum.
Wingify: This tool doesn’t delve into quite as much detail as others, but it does display a nice social sentiment scale for the page you want to analyse. It’s also the only thing in history to analyse the sentiment of ‘Rockstar’ by Nickelback as highly positive.
There are of course a vast selection of other social sentiment analysis tools out there, like Hootsuite Insights, Brand24 and Semantria, but you had to pay to trial them and I’m as frugal as Google. Take heed companies, people like free stuff.
Reading between the lines
However, it’s not all smooth sailing. Unfortunately, sentiment analysis tools only pick up on the direct meaning of words or phrases and struggle with the concept of sarcasm. For instance, if a sentiment analysis tool looked at this:
“Great. you’ve been SOOOOO HELPFUL.”
It would probably class it as a positive statement. Anomalies like this might not be enough to tip the scales, but it means these tools aren’t foolproof either. The moral here is to take the findings of your social sentiment analysis with a pinch of salt.
When tools fail it’s always worth measuring interactions manually. People might not cut to the chase with words but they sure can with reactions. Facebook’s panel of reactions can help provide more insight on how people feel about something, as well as favourites and retweets on Twitter. If somebody has favourited your attempt to answer their question, chances are they approve of what you’ve said.
Stay on course
If you can see a trend developing in your interactions or an attitude towards your brand forming then it’s important to act on these findings. By adjusting your messaging or your brand values you can avoid potential crises, improve the way you interact with influencers or clients, and create future content shaped around common issues.