Brand sentiment…it’s a term I hadn’t heard of until last week. I was a bit worried it was just another throw away marketing term, you know the kind; it sounds all exciting and trendy but just turns out to be something to add way down at the bottom of your ever expanding list of things to do. It may never even make the list. So, anyway, I didn’t have to do much digging to uncover what it is and it turns out it is actually something worth knowing about, especially if you are nurturing a customer-centric brand – which hopefully you are.
In a nutshell Brand Sentiment is basically how people are feeling about your brand. It’s pretty self-explanatory as to why this is important so I won’t go into too much detail, only to say that people who feel negatively towards your brand will be happy to share their experiences on social media platforms, informing every Tom, Dick and Harry (aka potential and existing customers) about their bad experience. Likewise, if everyone is singing your praises that can have a positive knock on impact on your leads and sales.
If Brand Sentiment is about how your customers are feeling, then Sentiment Analysis is how you go about determining the current sentiment. This is simply done by monitoring and reporting on mentions across your social media platforms. You may already report on ‘mentions’, however this information on its own is meaningless and is often misleading. Sentiment Analysis takes things one step further to determine if the mentions are positive or negative and this enhanced data provides better direction for future activity. By tracking how the mood changes over time you will be able to clearly see the things that make your customers happy and those that don’t. Regular analysis will enable you to react quickly to any negative changes in sentiment, allowing you stave off potential crisis by pinpointing the underlying root cause and employing any necessary intervention strategies.
Let’s face it, sentiment analysis isn’t exactly brain taxing but it can be quite a timely task that involves monitoring all social media interactions and, as an absolute minimum, grading them either ‘positive’, ‘negative’ or ‘neutral’. If you want your results to really mean something then you should drill down as far as possible, breaking down the results into topics – only then will you know exactly what the negativity or positivity relates to.
If you are working across an expanse of social media platforms and your interaction levels are high then you may want to look for external help. There are agencies out there who specialise in sentiment analysis reporting, focusing on user-generated content, and some of these services are free. If you are looking at outsourcing bear in mind that the majority of agencies use software to pick up and grade mentions. Software, however intelligent it has been programmed to be, is unlikely to understand irony and sarcasm in the same way a human would, so figures may not be hugely accurate due to the correct meaning being lost in translation.
In summary gauging Brand Sentiment and undertaking Sentiment Analysis are definitely activities you should be considering, especially during times of flux within any organisation. If you’ve relaunched your brand, launched a new product, changed aspects of your customer support operations or have even just moved premises, taking time to note the resulting impact on brand sentiment should be factored in to your activities. Any changes you make, no matter how insignificant you feel they are at the time, can have a big impact on brand sentiment, positive or negative, and as such you should keep a close eye on things to prevent the disenchantment of a few from turning into a crisis.