5 ways PR pros can use social media sentiment
Social media metrics don’t always tell you the full story.
Too often, they lack context, telling you the “what” but not the “why” or “how.”
However, one metric that stands out from the rest is “sentiment.” Social media sentiment—a feeling, emotion, attitude or opinion conveyed in a brand mention—is a measurement that can add context to other metrics.
It’s important to get as much context as possible around online mentions. PR pros should know how big the conversations about their brands or clients are, but you also should know how people are talking about you.
Is it glowing praise? Bashing rants? Utter indifference?
Each sentiment category brings your brand social media mentions that mean very different things. A glowing mention is a reputation management win—but a rant may be a customer service issue and indifference probably isn’t high on any team’s radar.
Some social media management tools offer algorithms or filters to make it easy to gauge online sentiment. These sentiment analysis features measure and report the tone of your social mentions. Most tools group different sentiments or feelings into three categories: positive, negative or neutral.
Measuring sentiment with social media listening tools goes beyond seeing context in your weekly reports. Most brand managers lust after big jumps in social media buzz, but it’s a different story if those mentions are negative.
Here’s how PR and marketing pros can conduct sentiment analysis to tell the difference:
1. Prioritize your social media engagement.
When checking your social media profiles, handle the most important mentions first.
Though social media managers hope there are no fires to put out, be prepared to deal with any that exist in a timely manner. Respond to unhappy customers as quickly as possible, too.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could see all negative mentions first so you can placate unhappy customers before they become angrier? Surely that’s more important than thanking people for including you in their #FF. Luckily, there’s a way to respond to negative interactions quickly.
In many tools, you can filter your new social media mentions by sentiment. Filter out the lower priority items and focus on things that must be dealt with immediately.
This will come in handy when you’re on the lookout for a PR or social media crisis, assisting unhappy customers or responding to negative feedback from third parties.
2. Measure your brand’s reputation.
Collect data and look at sentiment trends and patterns over a period of time to get a better picture of your brand’s reputation.
Reports on social media sentiment can help you see how positively or negatively your organization is perceived on social media, based on the tone of mentions.
Look for changes in average sentiment to signal shifts in perception. Watch for different trends and patterns in sentiment, as well as how it correlates to other social media metrics.
Another way to use sentiment reporting is to see the response to certain campaigns, launches or events. You can then tie that information to the big picture, adding context to your social media mentions.
For example, you might attribute a jump in negative sentiment to your website going down a few days ago, or you can check the aggregate data a week after a new product launch to see how it’s being received.
3. Assist with potential crises.
You hope your brand never experiences a social media crisis, but must be prepared to deal with one anyway. Use sentiment analysis to heed off or deal with a social media crisis.
Working with your company’s PR or corporate communications team can make it easy to spot a sticky situation before it turns into a full-blown crisis. If a crisis does hit, being able to measure and filter things by sentiment makes it easier to manage communications and get things sailing smoothly again.
4. Perform competitive research.
Creating alerts to monitor your competitors enables you to measure sentiment for them the same way you would measure it for your own brand’s mentions.
Use sentiment analysis to measure and report how your competitors are talked about on social media. Keep an eye out for positive mentions to look for inspiration, and negative mentions for community-building or lead-generation opportunities.
Just like with your own brand, you can also monitor how certain campaigns, announcements and events impact your competitor’s reputation.
Even when the conversation is not about you, you can jump in when the time is right. For example, turn a competitor’s detractor into your next customer:
5. Add context to share of voice.
Share of voice is another great way to benchmark your brand against competitors, but once again, those metrics don’t always give you the full picture.
Let’s say you start celebrating because you have the majority share of voice for your industry, but then you find out most of the conversation is actually negative.
Still feel like celebrating?
You don’t want the majority share of voice if most of the talk is negative. So, when you look at share of voice during your social media competitive analysis, also look at sentiment over time:
You’ll be able to report on how the market views your brand in comparison to your competitors and in response to different campaigns and events.
Sentiment analysis makes it easier to view the context around a social media mention. Other metrics may tell you what people are talking about, but sentiment shows you the gist of what they’re saying.
How do you use sentiment in your social media listening?