Social media fails happen all the time, to even the most well-intentioned brands. But most scandals and reputation crises can be avoided if brands learn how to use consumer sentiment analysis to recognize the warning signs.

Social listening tools offer early detection

Some consumers come right out and tell you they’re unhappy. They put the dot in front of your Twitter handle, they state their complaint, and they hashtag it with something obvious like “#fail.”

Not all complaints are so direct – but that doesn’t make them any less worthy of your attention. In fact, the more subtle complaints can be the ones that cause the most damage in the end – because they fly under the radar initially. That’s why it’s even more important to use consumer sentiment analysis to recognize them right away. Here are some areas to focus on:

Social Language

Social media is a land of limited-character counts, which forces users to find unique ways to express themselves. Emojis are one such device – able to convey 140-characters in a single icon. Can your social platform decipher them? You’re missing much of the conversation if it can’t.

Sarcasm is another device used to express anger, in particular. The problem with sarcasm, however, is it relies on tone to convey meaning. The words at face value may actually mean the opposite – that’s why keyword searches don’t help you.

Looking for your brand name and the word “love” gives you a positive response for a tweet that says, “Two sips of coffee and my lipstick is gone. Gotta love Cover Girl.” But it’s clearly a sarcastic complaint about the staying power of the lipstick.

If your social monitoring software doesn’t account for sarcasm, it’s not helping you.

Neither does it help if it doesn’t speak “slanguage.” Consumers use pop culture phrases and lingo regularly to communicate both good and bad experiences. Do you know the difference between “on fleek” and “Bye, Felicia?” You need to.

Depth of Emotion

Ultimately, though, everything shared on social is meant to convey emotion. And anger is a big one. Bad news has always traveled fast – but travel time across cyberspace is immediate. And people who’d never be bothered to retweet your brand on a good day, are all too happy to share the injustice of a fellow consumer.

It’s important to follow consumer sentiment to know what consumers are feeling, but also to know the depth of those emotions. Do they like you, or love you? Dislike you, or hate you? When you know, you can respond accordingly.

You can – and should – also continuously take the temperature of your brand on social, to understand where problems could crop up as you plan upcoming campaigns.

Don’t give consumers an excuse

This is something Sea World, among others, must wish they’d done.

In an attempt to be more transparent about practices at their water parks, their social team started an #AskSeaWorld hashtag campaign to open a dialogue. What they got was open season on the negative reputation they were trying to overcome. Instead of a conversation, Sea World’s social team soon found themselves fielding sarcastic tweets, like this one:


Not realizing the depth of anger out there, Sea World made it worse by trying to laugh it off:


The entire campaign was a good-intentioned idea that failed miserably. Sea World knew people were upset with their brand, and their attempt at transparency was legitimate. But if they had dug deeper into consumer sentiment they might have noticed that people weren’t just upset – they were completely disillusioned with the brand overall.

Instead of making things better, they stirred up a hornet’s nest of activist trolls determined to get in the way. Real-time sentiment analysis could have shown them just how big the issue was, allowing them to shut the campaign down and regroup before things spun out of control.

And that’s the real value of sentiment analysis – it provides context to what social users are saying and thinking by shining a light on what they care about most passionately. More importantly, it shows you these insights in real-time, so you don’t have to be taken by surprise after things have escalated.

You can handle angry consumers and diffuse angry flare-ups immediately – as long as you’re paying attention.

Don’t let negative consumers get the best of your brand. Get in touch for a demo of our sentiment analysis tools today.

Image from John 

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