July 8, 2019

by Melody Caraballo

The value of social media engagement cannot be overstated. Engagement is word of mouth but with a megaphone. It signals to marketers that a person mentioned our brand, one of our products or even a topic aligned to our business. Social media engagement is quantifiable – and in a time of ever-increasing ROI pressure, quantifiable marketing metrics are a CMO’s dream. But here’s the thing: those numbers alone will never reveal exactly how your target audience feels.

All the quantifiable data from all the martech in the world won’t change the fact that marketing is a communications-based business activity. And guess who does the communicating? That’s right, humans. (At least for now.) Though we all have that one friend who seems to only speak in memes, we humanoids tend to express ourselves largely through language on social media. Our language is infused with emotion ― and it enables marketers to gain highly valuable insights.

In steps sentiment analysis.

What is sentiment analysis?

OK, let’s get the geek-speak out of the way. Sentiment analysis is also called text analytics, opinion mining, emotion AI or computational linguistics. Technically, it is the practice of applying natural language processing (NLP) and text analysis techniques to online social conversations. Practically, social media sentiment analysis takes all the social media chatter and structures it into data you can interpret.

What can social media sentiment analysis tools do?

Do you want to go through each of your tweets and comments one by one? No, you’d rather eat rusty nails. Sentiment analysis tools interpret whether posts and comments are positive, negative or neutral. That data is displayed in charts and/or graphs.

Social Media Share of Voice
Social Media Share of Voice

All of these details are quite revealing, and you wouldn’t have had all this data parsed so quickly otherwise. But you have to dig deeper to develop meaningful insights.

There are limitations to the technology too. You know how sarcasm can sometimes go right over someone’s head. Sentiment analysis tools are pretty much “that guy.” The use of metaphors, slang expressions, sarcasm, and irony can be difficult for an analysis tool to decode. While improvements have been made, the capabilities of natural language processing can’t always account for context.

An experienced social media specialist can investigate and draw conclusions that can be applied across many marketing disciplines.

How can I apply social media sentiment analysis?

Content Marketing Strategy

Not only can you see that there are positive and negative comments, social analytics platforms usually enable you to get down to the post and comment level to probe exactly what the user wrote. (In the spirit of positivity, our example does not focus on negative comments.) Let’s say, as you are analyzing sentiment, you notice a pattern of people remarking about the unexpectedness of dry humor coming from the brand. “I love this new direction.” “These videos are hilarious!” “I can’t believe this is Legacy Brand! These are so funny!”

This kind of information gives the content strategist ammo to push the envelope a little further the next campaign – and gives the C-suite a sense of financial security to do so. Also, because you’ve delved into the comments, you now have social data that develops a more complete picture of your customers’ interests. You can begin to use this psychographic information to influence everything from content formats to editorial topics.

Reputation Management

It’s a bummer that people are more likely to post reviews when they are unhappy than when they have a positive experience. But this certainly helps social media managers to identify potential public relations crises. If you see a spike in negative sentiment, you can evaluate the situation and take any necessary action to defuse it.

Employing sentiment analysis as part of your social media monitoring allows you to see mentions in real time. That means you can stay on top of potential issues and resolve them before they escalate.

Media Planning

Remember how we started amassing psychographic information when developing the content marketing strategy? That same information can help media planners understand and target customers to audience tastes and interests. With this intel, you can personalize advertising, choose the right channels and possibly identify more touchpoints along the buyer’s journey.

While a paid media campaign is underway, continue monitoring social discussion to add more data points that prove the value of the campaign. Think of the positive posts as unsolicited testimonials.

No doubt you can see why sentiment analysis is an important part of any social media strategy. The data you collect from sentiment analysis goes beyond engagement metrics and has applications throughout your marketing mix.

To put a social media sentiment analysis to work for your organization, get our complimentary SWOT Analysis for a limited time.

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