Identifying Trends or Trouble Before They Become TsunamisSocial media trends can be TNT for brands, offering explosive results and placing them solidly on potential consumers’ radar – but oftentimes, not in a good way. At least not the type of trends we have in mind!

Using social listening, brands are able to head off crises by seeing things coming before they’re enveloped in viral dramas. And brand health has to be a top priority for this to happen.

Keeping A Brand’s Health in Tip-Top Shape

Monitoring a brand’s health online is entirely necessary and most brands have functions devoted to precisely that. As of this writing, in fact, there are more than 140 open positions, worldwide, advertised on LinkedIn that have brand health as part of the description:

brand health positions

Brand managers still have a larger function overall, of course – as they oversee brand strategy, including ad development, media planning and PR. And they also create new brand offers and concepts, and all of this is done while monitoring and ensuring brand health.

It’s a big job, for sure – with lots of moving parts and challenges. And those who are successful at it have found innovative sentiment analysis tools that travel with them throughout their careers.

Take Carrie Stern (Social Analytics Manager) of Hulu, for instance. Carrie has brought NetBase with her to three different companies now, because it helps her with every aspect of her job and she “probably couldn’t do her job without it anymore.”


For Hulu, the tool provides superior audience understanding. The widgets and sentiment drive word clouds, as well as trending widgets offer insight on audience expectations. And they also come in handy, of course, when it comes to spotting potential concerns before they spin up.

Viewing Likes & Mentions as Lessons

Being alerted to spikes and dives in mentions makes all the difference online, as forewarned is forearmed. But the intel that most brand managers are capturing do little to protect a brand’s health. Nor do they provide meaningful alerts.

Many brand managers mention “likes” as an important metric to track, for example. But it’s really not. Lots of a brands fans, followers and friends may ‘like’ a piece of content or imagery, but without understanding why they like it, the action is meaningless. You can’t be sure if what they’re liking has made them any more or less likely to buy from your brand, as the underlying sentiment attached to the action is a mystery.

We see lots of engagement for this tweet about Nature Valley bars, for example – but not a lot of love. To count this as a win would be folly:

It’s a joke about how dry the bars are – and could be turned around by the brand with a little clever interaction. But are they listening? If not, it’s a missed opportunity with a pretty significant audience base – and a pretty influential comedian who they may not consider otherwise.

Spikes in likes or mentions may be due to an influencer touting wonderful experience at your restaurant, or they may be telling everyone you gave them food poisoning. Correspondingly, those “likes” may indicate anything from ‘thanks for the info’ to ‘yes, give them hell for that – we all hate that brand now!’

Understanding which sentiment is associated with those spikes, and the associated conversations, is crucial if you want to head off trouble. Let’s see how that looks.

Social Listening to Capture Spikes & Head Off Crises

BVK, a full-service advertising agency, uses social listening for trend forecasting. They’re able to understand how their audience talks and how they talk to their audience, and that is worth its weight in gold, as it helps them quantify the impact of their efforts not only on social, but across the web.

They uncover these trends by monitoring for fluctuations that reveal conversations, trends and influencers that all deliver important strategic insights to power their online efforts.

The summary metrics widget offers an exceptional sentiment snapshot to kick things off, with Mentions, Posts and Net Sentiment, along with secondary metrics beneath each to further flesh out each area. And at the bottom, we see a timeline with ebbs and flows mirroring the online conversation. Of note, is the spike on December 18th:

Summary Metrics Spike

Clicking on this timeline spike and opening the Fluctuation Summary dialog box, brands can review post counts, Net Sentiment score, and Potential Impression counts, as well as popular terms emerging from the selected time period. It reveals an incident that caused the spike:

fluctuation summary

The Authors widget, helps brands understand who is talking about this topic and how influential they are:

Authors widget

And the Sources widget shows where the conversation is primarily happening – so brands know where they need to be, in real-time:

Sources widget

And breaking it down further, to understand the post types driving these conversations, is always helpful as well. Are people having multiple conversations about this topic? Are there lots of new contributions to it? Or are they weighing in on this one incident? Having a sense of the scope of the matter is very important when it comes to containment considerations, particularly when preparing an appropriate response to get out ahead of a crisis:

post types

Brands can explore any number of ways to slice and dice the data in NetBase, including:

  • Popular Posts Widget – to see which posts are driving a spike in conversation.
  • Popular Links Widget – to see which links have the most impressions and are driving the conversation.
  • Sentiment Drivers Widget – to see user reactions to the conversations and actions they may be planning to take, like boycotting a brand.

And so much more.

Some spikes offer little controversy, of course, and even the worst of them come with some opportunity to save face – but only if a brand acts fast.

To take advantage of these (however tiny) good vibes, brands needs to catch the wave as it’s forming and ride it in as it crests, not scramble to their feet to slow it down once it’s roaring toward them napping in the sunshine!

Reach out for a demo and we’ll show you how.

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