This isn’t funny. Millions of Americans have suffered from anxiety-ridden nights: we tossed and turned; our stomachs churned; we called our loved ones to see if they were okay. Queen Bey’s recent delivery of “Formation” slayed us (hashtag: #slayage) on a Saturday, and my biggest fear was that she’d drop an album and I’d miss out on the formative moments of communal enjoyment.

But am I being hyperbolic? To those Beyoncé lovers out there who were screaming “yaaaaas” in monotonic unison upon the release of “Formation,” I am probably understating the emotion. Music is an experience. For some, it’s even a religious experience. It’s participatory. Social allows folks in the cellar-like, cramped rooms of foggy San Francisco to enjoy and contribute to the digital hype on the sandy, hot beaches of Miami. Social allows us to bob our heads together to Beyoncé’s sick new beat.


What do you see there? A graph? I see a roller coaster ride of emotion. A steep curve that reaches its precipice and we, “fan bois and gurls,” tumble along the ride of music “realness” in real time. And in my spare moments between hyperventilation and joyous ululation, I turned to NetBase to cope with my obsession and understand what my brethren Beyoncé lovers were feeling.  Join me for the ride as I look quickly at “all the feels.”

Bey love rules on Twitter and Tumblr

I ran a Beyoncé analysis, focusing on Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, or Formation.


Twitter is an obvious place to start, but how about Tumblr? Fans are creatively repurposing gifs from their favorite TV shows and rewriting the story to be about Beyoncé. Not just Beyoncé, though: these fans are using the gif to describe the overwrought surplus of emotion that one only feels when Beyoncé drops a hit or when mothers give birth (I’ll have to take the latter on faith). For example, this is me rn:


(Source: here) I look good, right?! #NailPolishEmoji

This isn’t just fun to look at. This also tells us a sentiment-driven story of how fans are responding to current events in Vevo. How might music studios gauge consumer sentiment on new releases? Social listening is the tool that allows marketers and brands to be with their consumers all the way along.

But what else does this song teach us about consumers’ interaction with fresh media? Let’s not sidestep the obvious: the song aggressively and quite brazenly discusses questions of race, violence, and disenfranchisement that permeate and cross class, gender, and community lines. Beyoncé is not just fun and games – she means business. It’s a no-brainer to assume that this video will supply fodder for memes and gifs that tackle the elephant in the room as the year goes on.

Don’t pretend you know when you don’t know

How about language? Are you feeling “woke af” rn? If you don’t understand your target demographic’s language, you need to learn so you can better engage them. What kind of sentiment is driving this conversation and how can one utilize social listening to cater to your audience’s interests and passions?


The above attribute drivers were taken just hours after the video debuted and show us a number of phrases that corroborate my aforementioned musings on gender and race across America. And upon further analysis, we can also quickly uncover that two jarringly negative sentiments are actually not red blemishes on Beyoncé’s #slayage at all, but are instead descriptions of how she “killed it,” i.e., delivered an exceptional performance.

I’ve talked a bit about how good analysis is an iterative process before (breaking down what was negative about the State of Union). This is just another example of that – I can click and quickly glance at the sentiment to see what it means. In this case, it needed to be reclassified as positive sentiment. This is what I did and it helps me, as an analyst and marketer, better engage and activate my audience. But I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t understand the language driving the sentiment.

So, what are you doing to understand your fan base? How can social listening help you make waves on social?

The coming days will reveal what else unfolds from this video. Social is the answer to uncovering meaningful insights and making predictions for the future. Queen Bey’s fans (ahem, moi) are thirstin’ for the next meme  (or are we thirstin’ for Beyoncé to do the next meme-able thing?) The marketer in me is excited to see what CPG companies will do with all the product mentions in the song. But little ol’ me is excited to see what social says about cheddar biscuits. I’ll leave that to you to Google for more information.


Or reach out for more info on how to use NetBase to get to know your audience as intimately as Queen Bey’s fans know her.

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