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Using Social Listening to Bolster your Brand Experience

Updated: May 10, 2023

Applying Text Mining to Perform Sentiment Analysis on Social Media and Online Content

Sentiment analysis is a text mining tool that interprets the polarity of comments, articles, posts, or any online content you need to analyze. Sentiment analysis can help to discover how people feel and can be applied to everything that has words in it, from customer reviews to social media and blog posts to articles from anywhere in the world. Learning from data collected through social listening and sentiment analysis can help inform strategic decisions, messaging, marketing and communications strategies, and improve the overall experience of your brand.

In short, social listening and sentiment analysis provides a deep understanding of your audience, empowering you with actionable insights and clear paths to connect with them in the most impactful ways.

Online content – particularly social media – is one of the most powerful sources of information. People use social media to connect with others, learn about and purchase products and services, research topics they care about, and engage in discourse by posting, leaving comments and reactions, or resharing content when they have an opinion or experience to share. In this case, social media is a convenient way to understand how people feel about certain topics, current events, a brand/product/service, or an experience.

While applicable to any online content (including blog articles and customer reviews), a unique value of tracking sentiment on social media is the ability to collect real-time reactions and unfiltered opinions of social media users and monitor the latest postings and reactions to track and contextualize real-time change in sentiment.

Gaining a relevant and accurate understanding of your target audience’s feelings and opinions is the stairway to creating meaningful connections. The more people feel heard, seen, and understood, all the more encouraged they will be to engage with your brand, business, or organization.

So, how do we get there?

Identify the Target

Performing sentiment analysis on data derived from social listening starts with determining your burning question:

  • How do our followers feel about our brand?

  • What do people think about a particular product, service, or experience?

  • What are the top discussions being had around a certain trending topic or key term?

  • What are the most popular opinions on a current event?

Based on the core question you are looking to answer, data can then be collected by pulling all posts and comments, including a keyword (perhaps the name of your product or event, or posts containing the word “vacation”), a tag of your brand or company’s name, a trending hashtag, etc.

Gauge Overall Sentiment

With the data collected, posts will be analyzed to determine the polarity of the tone of the content, categorizing them with one of 3 core labels: positive, negative, or neutral. With these 3 buckets, deeper sentiment analysis can be performed on comments and reactions for a clearer understanding of what people really feel and think about the content in the posts.

Determine the Deeper Context

Sentiment analysis allows us to contextualize the feelings and opinions of the audience and dig into the nitty gritty of what people are expressing online. Here are a few examples:

  • Example 1: A positive-toned post for Product X outperformed in positive reactions and comments, but why? This analysis will aggregate the commonalities in comments and reactions to reveal a shared positive association with the specific experience of using Product X while commuting to work.

  • Example 2: Posts containing the keyword “vacation” found the most and least liked vacation locations of the season, but what made these spots their favorites and least favorites? By analyzing the discourse, the highest volume of positive sentiment for the top vacation spots included mentions of close proximity to downtown areas and lodging with free parking; the highest volume of negative sentiment for the least-liked vacation spots focused on limited or poor options for dining close by.

  • Example 3: Followers of Brand A posted a high volume of neutral-to-negative sentiment surrounding questions they have about the Brand’s highlighted service. These questions can be grouped by topic and polarity of sentiment to pinpoint customers’ most burning questions about the service.

Apply Actionable Insights

With the contextualized data gathered from performing social listening and sentiment analysis, the resulting insights translate to clear, actionable paths forward to connect with the target audience and strengthen your brand image. For each of the examples above, here are some strategic applications of the insights gathered from the research:

  • Example 1: After discovering the positive association of the shared experience of using Product X while commuting to work, the company crafted a marketing campaign that visualized customers using the product on their drives, rides, or walks to work. Feeling seen and understood when seeing these ads, site traffic and sales saw a meaningful increase.

  • Example 2: Travel, hospitality, and tourism companies were able to play up their strong suits – determined by results of the social listening and sentiment analysis – of proximity to downtown and free parking while they worked on their lagging areas. To address the negative sentiment surrounding limited/poor options for dining close by, these companies began creating resources for finding the best restaurants in the area, focusing on smaller, local businesses that travelers were less likely to find on their own. These communication focuses resulted in more positive customer reviews and trending discussions online.

  • Example 3: Brand A was able to create a series of videos and prominently placed links that answered the common burning questions that were revealed in the sentiment analysis. This improved customer satisfaction and sparked informed ideas for new features and add-ons for their service based on the continued social listening and sentiment analysis of the brand’s followers.

In Summary

Performing sentiment analysis on data gathered through social listening is one of the most effective ways to gain a real-time, contextualized understanding of the thoughts and feelings of your audience. Using the information learned from this unique type of research to inform your strategies builds connections with your audience that go beyond the surface by demonstrating that they are seen, they are heard, and they are understood by your brand. That is what makes the strongest Brand Experience.

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