Beyond “Mean Tweets” … Analyzing the “Why” Behind the “What” in Social Media Brand Sentiment

Jim Fogarty, Director, Strategic Partnerships, PublicRelay

In today’s world, “You are what you tweet” – as well as what others tweet about you. Take the popular “Mean Tweets” segment on ABC’s late night show Jimmy Kimmel Live!: Celebrities sit on a stool and read hateful Twitter posts addressed to them, as the classic R.E.M. song, “Everybody Hurts,” plays in the background. By showcasing the not-so-nice things users write on social media, the segment satirically underscores the power of negative tweets.

Companies too are paying attention to what social media users are saying about them, as opposed to simply measuring metrics. While an impressive volume of shares, re-tweets or likes demonstrates online engagement, after all, they don’t illustrate how the audience perceives the brand’s story. Engagement can be both good and bad, and the latter may convince you to shift gears. But does it provide you with enough insight about which direction to take?

Beyond “Mean Tweets” … Analyzing the “Why” Behind the “What” in Social Media Brand Sentiment - PublicRelayThis is where substantial and valuable measurement comes in, in which a partnership between humans and technology proves critical. Why? Because social media analytics delivers insights about stakeholders’ perceptions of brands. But whether positive or negative, there are always many layers to those sentiments. Disappointment and sarcasm, for example, represent key indicators of an ongoing campaign’s health — recognizing these reactions as more than just “negative” can help a company successfully redirect the campaign. Because analytics solutions will encounter some limitations here, human analysis should play a lead role in fully understanding social media posts, and discerning between feelings, i.e. the “why” behind the “what.”

In addition, accuracy remains an elusive quality, especially when organizations solely rely upon tech solutions to interpret the public’s voice. An analytics tool will misinterpret a sarcastic tweet as praise if it cannot detect what “mocking looks like.” But people can often spot sarcasm, mockery, irony, etc. the moment they see it.

With people filling in “what” and “why” gaps which tech tools cannot, brands can narrow in on the nature of user sentiment, to design, readjust and execute more targeted strategies in real-time. What’s more, humans and technology can combine to bring a higher level of intelligence to predict social media storms or viral shares. With this, organizations can pinpoint factors that trigger a viral post, and then customize and model their approaches with new-found enlightenment which contextualizes user engagement. This will bring unlimited potential for highly positive conversations about your brand.

To summarize, brands must focus on two essentials in developing a social media measurement strategy, as supported by people and technology:

Directing campaigns as sentiments dictate. Let’s illustrate this “must do” with a common scenario: A news story or brand initiative hits the public radar, and clearly misses the mark. Through effective social media measurement, the company in question deconstructs the intention behind stakeholders’ posts and traces it back to the specific aspect of the news story or brand initiative that drove negativity, to modify this element. Thus, near real-time insight reroutes a campaign that was headed for a cliff, while identifying what worked and what didn’t.

Understanding the “why” behind the “what.” To rise above the noise and really hear what online stakeholders are saying, it’s essential to understand the “why” behind a reaction, to come up with a response which is genuine and distinct. Ultimately, this reinforces a brand-stakeholder relationship built upon trust, overcoming hurdles along the way.

At PublicRelay, we ensure that our clients take full advantage of both human and technological resources to maximize the value of the morphing social media landscape. We enable them to transform quality data into actionable insights, to confidently and accurately manage and adjust strategies based upon stakeholder sentiment. We empower them to measure shares, re-tweets or likes in business terms. If this sounds like something you’d like to discuss further, then please contact us.

How confident are you in your communications data? 72% of PR leaders say they have good data only ‘sometimes.’ Download the PR News Report, The State of Data-Driven Communications Strategies to learn more.

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