Getting To The Heart Of Social Media: How Sentiment Can Help Drive Better Audience Insights

One like social media notification with heart icon

The average person spends nearly two-and-a-half hours on social media each day, leaving a trail of interactions – comments, likes, shares – in their wake each time they log in.

This vast and tangled web of information is multi-faceted. Considering the various facets in relation to each other can lead to richer insights about your audience and how they connect to your brand, which in turn can spark creative ideas. The challenge is how to synthesise data in a way that will lead you to these moments of genius.

Sentiment might be the key to giving your data-driven insights real value.

Data + sentiment = valuable insight

Numbers alone can’t tell you how people are reacting to your activity. Think of it this way; measuring likes, comments and mentions can tell you people are talking about your brand. Sentiment analysis can tell you what they are saying.

Sentiment can’t be artificially inflated by advertising either. Sure, the reach of a post, and the number of people who engage with it, can be, but that won’t influence how people actually feel about it. In fact, it’s all the more reason to use sentiment as a metric. It can help you understand how people are feeling about your content, before you put valuable marketing budget behind it.

The folks over at Zavy have found that carefully curating data, and layering in sentiment, can help find that ‘bullseye’ insight to help guide your social content strategy.

Real people, real feelings

Social media is fertile ground for searching for sentiment-focused insights. Unlike traditional broadcast media, which by nature has a limited ability for two-way communication, conversations happen naturally on social channels. People wear their hearts on their digital sleeves, expressing their feelings openly with each reaction, like, or comment.

Posts are filled with sentiment – both positive and negative – which helps you to understand the real impact of your brand in these environments. In turn, you have the chance to actively engage with your audience, amplifying good impressions and countering the bad.

Perhaps the simplest, and most effective part of monitoring sentiment is that it’s a tangible reminder your customers are more than a collection of data points. They are real people with thoughts and feelings which exist in the real world and not just online.

If you can understand your customers’ emotions and anticipate their needs, you can forge powerful relationships and establish lasting brand loyalty.

Tracking sentiment in Zavy

Zavy’s platform uses net sentiment scores to take money or ad spend out of the equation. This allows you to zero in on how people feel about your brand regardless of reach or engagement stats, which can be easily but hollowly inflated by advertising or boosted posts.

The dashboards easily identify sentiment scores for posts from your own channels and those of other brands in your competitive set. It’s a fresh and insightful benchmark to consider, adding an extra dimension to your social media marketing. It means that no matter where you sit in your category, whether you’re the incumbent or the start-up trying to break in, you can analyse sentiment on equal footing.

Following trends in positive and negative sentiment, and extracting the relevant insights, can help you hone your messaging to ensure you’re delivering the type of content your audience wants.

Let’s look at some examples…

Sentiment supporting inclusivity

Among women’s activewear brands, sentiment serves to highlight the success of posts that swim against the tide – and backs up a brand’s decision to do so.

Lululemon saw hugely positive net sentiment scores from two posts that highlight diverse voices and bodies. These posts are a departure from the traditional focus on slim, white bodies that dominate women’s activewear aesthetic. Inclusivity is proved to connect more deeply with their audience and boost their brand sentiment.

They aren’t the most shared or commented on posts – but in terms of creating authentic connections with their followers, and inspiring a community to pursue fitness, they are the most effective. Without the visibility of sentiment, this might not have been as evident.

Sentiment showing where to focus attention

Or, if you were to look at the number of comments and shares alone for the big Australian banks, you would see that ANZ and Commonwealth would look like they are ahead of the pack. And in many ways, they are – followers are growing, with a large volume of likes and comments.

However, when you cross-reference this with a graph displaying sentiment, you see a different story. The yellow circles towards the top right-hand corner represent three individual posts from Commonwealth Bank. The horizontal axis shows net sentiment, the vertical axis indicates the number of comments and shares, while the size of the circle indicates the number of likes or reactions the post received. So, despite a high volume of interactions, those big yellow circles are unlikely to be desirable for this brand.

Closer analysis reveals those three posts were communicating problems with the CommBank app, and many of the interactions were negative, expressing frustration or disappointment. Not the emotions ideally associated with a brand’s social presence, but a good indicator of where there might be real opportunities to improve CX.

And sentiment showing where your content is resonating well

In contrast, Westpac – represented by the red circles – see smaller numbers of interactions on each post, but greater sentiment scores across the board. Their posts on corporate social responsibility, highlighting the ways they support local communities, see a flood of positive engagement.

They also managed to find a sweet spot that generated both plentiful reactions and higher than average positive sentiment, with a post about a koala receiving a prosthetic foot.

It’s evident that posts involving good deeds, kindness (and koalas!), strike a chord with their audience and build positive sentiment around their brand.

If you want to learn more about how you can use sentiment to get the heart of your brand’s social media presence, get in touch with the Zavy team today.

Featured image source: iStock/Redlio Designs




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    1. Social media is one of the greatest money wasting mediums of all time! Commonwealth Bank has 17 million customers. Of these 771,541 “follow” (4.5%) on Facebook and 31,800 (0.2%) on Instagram. ANZ is Facebook (4.1%) follow on Facebook and 0.3% on Instagram. “Follow” does not mean they visit everyday. Most of the time consumers spend on social media is – for SOCIAL. (Not looking at brands.) Using the average amount of time spent on social, also has a huge variance. We in advertising and marketing are heavily involved by our brands, in 99% of instances, consumers give them but a moment’s notice. The figures for followers of banks social media are insignificant, whilst the number of interaction are irrelevant – talking 50s, 30s, 70s, even 100s. (I know a bit about this as my background is BSc pure and statistical maths. Sorry to sound like a smart arse but this whole approach/metric is madness!). It is called Social Media for a reason! If you want to gain an understanding of your brands users, use sound sampling techniques. This is the old “My dog has 4 legs. My cat has 4 legs. Therefore my cat is a dog”.

Audience insights sentiment Social Media zavy

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