The Social Sentiment Behind Milkshakes Making a Comeback

Niraj Sharma |
 06/05/19 |
2 min read

As summer approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, thoughts of cold, creamy beverages take hold – and quick-serve brands eagerly comply and compete. What are folks saying about milkshakes, and how are popular brands doing as milkshake season begins?

Trends Affect Social Analytics Results

Social analytics is never boring – but surely some things are iron clad, aren’t they? Sentiment around milkshakes can’t be anything but positive, right?

Usually that would more or less be true, but the reason social analytics must be captured and acted on in real-time is because anything can happen to affect social sentiment in the moment.

Like people deciding to throw milkshakes at political figures as a form of protest. In light of these recent incidents, sentiment is rather low for a product that would typically generate a lot of love:

You can see from the Attributes what people are talking about in relation to this issue, and explore further to assess whether your brand is inadvertently involved.

For example, a McDonald’s in Edinburgh – near a venue where Brexit party leader Nigel Farage was speaking – was asked by police to stop selling shakes and McFlurries for the duration, for fear of additional incidents.

This is the sort of stuff social monitoring is made for. Though the brand wasn’t in any way inciting or condoning these incidents, they would certainly want to know how consumers felt about things.

And, of course, it’s important to monitor competitors hoping to cash in on the turmoil. For some, perhaps the political angle is a trend your brand can leverage…

Though it’s likely a risk. Burger King made a light-hearted attempt to hijack the spotlight…

…then swam safely in the other direction when social users criticized the move:

It’s always smart to weigh social sentiment of your own audience and track it closely when wading into the political fray.

Filters Provide a Clear View

Mostly you just want to be aware of such things, then drill down into the analytics that matter in the longer term. Excluding terms related to the Brexit controversy gives you a better sense of true sentiment on the topic at hand – milkshakes (when used for their intended purpose, as a refreshing treat):

Net Sentiment of 88% is much more on track with what you’d expect. And emotions show the conversation is dominated by feelings like “favorite,” “best,” and “best milkshake.”

Any brand serving milkshakes would want to know if theirs falls into those categories. Meanwhile, take a look at Behaviors:

It’s noteworthy that “try” and “make” are as prominent as “drink.” In addition to all the love for milkshakes available at various eateries, people are interested in recipes to make their own for a variety of reasons – like and to align with a vegan lifestyle.

This is further supported by the list of Influencers:

Nearly all are from YouTube cooking shows. If your brand doesn’t offer a recipe or “make your own milkshake” mix on store shelves, maybe it should.

What else are people talking about? Milkshakes make strange bedfellows that appeal to some – like those who like to dip their fries into the shake, or as a “boozy” follow-up to goat yoga.

Other conversations simply take note of milkshakes in relation to popular culture, like the TV show Riverdale:

Is this a brand partnership waiting to happen? Possibly. AI analytics will certainly give you the most accurate insights to inform your decision.

A Look at 5 Top Brands

Once you have an understanding of the overall discussion and sentiment, you can narrow down your competitive analysis by searching on terms like “Best Milkshake” – using filters to exclude problematic terms and keep your analytics on track. Let’s explore sentiment for a few top brands to see what’s popping.

Dairy Queen

“Blizzard” is, of course, a prominent positive term here. Though putting too much peanut butter is apparently grounds for calling 9-1-1 for some people… While others are completely stressed by commercials featuring Blizzards being held upside down…

Meanwhile, the Mini Blizzard Flights offered in May were well received:

The primary Behavior? “Want”:


 Though the shake-throwing incident factors into the sentiment for Mickey D’s, there’s still a lot of love for the shakes themselves.

With regard to competitive intelligence, it’s always worth noting when your brand is named alongside another:

This allows you to see where you’re excelling, and where consumers may feel you’re lacking by comparison.

You also want to understand what’s driving any negative emotions you encounter:

“Not love” popped via a sponsored post within another article. Some fans weren’t thrilled with model Gigi Hadid’s partnership with the fast food brand. But nearly 2.5 million likes might tell a different story…

It’s up to McDonald’s to track their audience’s feelings about this influencer and assess whether their goals are being met.


Wendy’s 50-cent Frosty promotion has sentiment soaring for the burger chain, even amidst all the milkshake brouhaha.

A clever commercial with women diving into a fountain for coins at the news is perfectly on brand with Wendy’s humorous social persona. The top behavior is “want”:

Though the brand tends to be very responsive on social, they did miss this one:


Luckily another fan stepped in to offer a suggestion. This is something real-time monitoring helps with. It’s especially important when sentiment is negative, but you don’t want to miss the chance to wow a new customer either.


With less than 50 locations throughout the UK – and a handful in existence (or coming soon) beyond, Shakeaway managed to avoid most of the fray surrounding the milkshake-throwing in their neck of the woods. The one or two posts that attempted to rope them in, were smartly ignored – which is sometimes the right call.

Though their social presence is smaller, there’s no shortage of love for their shakes and smoothies:

The only thing that has people “not happy” is the fact that Shakeaway hasn’t put in a bid to buy Arsenal FC.

Aside from that, people are grateful for them lending a hand to charitable events, and love fantastic selfies of Shakeaway “shakettes.”

The most Popular Post reveals people miss the Shakeaway that used to be in Dublin:


Sonic is another brand getting a lot of love in the shake department – with some declaring it to have the “best Oreo cheesecake shake”:

People love the half-price shakes after 8:00 PM, even if they sometimes find it hard to wait:

There have been real human “moments” shared at Sonic:

And running out of a favorite flavor is a tragedy any Sonic shake fan can understand:

Shake it Up

These insights aren’t just for the brands named – or for quick serve chains, etc. Any brand in the restaurant, hospitality, or CPG realm could benefit from these insights to inform new offerings. Not to mention, any other brand could use love for shakes – especially specific brands or flavors – to connect authentically with their shake-loving audience.

As long as you let the social data guide you – looking past what’s obvious to uncover the gems that will help your brand sparkle – you’ll succeed.

How can AI Analytics help you find sentiment insights to inform your brand’s strategy this summer? Reach out and we’ll walk you through a customized demo!


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