The Social Sentiment Driving MLK Day of Service

Carol Feigenbaum |
 01/18/21 |
5 min read

The Social Sentiment Driving MLK Day of Service

Just ahead of the inauguration, the Biden/Harris administration are encouraging a day of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And it’s something everyone can agree is well timed and needed. Let’s see how it’s playing out across the United States and ways different brands are participating.

Subjects we’ll discuss and explore using social media monitoring include:

  • How Martin Luther King Jr lives on in helping others.
  • Locating pockets of good Samaritans in your niche.
  • Linking consumer feeling to brand success.

And here are some stats around the power of positive sentiment – created by connecting deeply with consumers:

  • 89% of shoppers stay devoted to brands that share their principles.
  • When customers feel connected to brands, 57% will increase their spending with that brand.
  • Consumers want to engage with brands,70%, say they feel more connected when a brand’s CEO is active on social media.

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MLK Day 2021

Martin Luther King was an American hero, standing up for basic human rights and equality. His message has echoed over the past 65+ years. And this year, thankful people everywhere are giving back for MLK Day 2021 as they prepare for a day of service.


And we can view these conversations in real time using social media monitoring. With segments such as Food Bank, Service Food Drive and Habitat for Humanity, it’s clear that consumers are looking to put Dr. King’s message of helping one another to practice. These segments are interrelated, with nodes sprawling out into other categories and demonstrating how these conversations overlap.

Parsing the sentiment beneath the words is what’s imperative to brand health. We know that 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them, and you can’t do this without understanding how they feel. Social media listening will guide you there.

Social Media Listening in Action

We can see how enthused people are over the approaching holiday. Our word cloud shows nothing but green, aka positive sentiment, and people are speaking with great passion, indicated by the size of the word:


Exploring further, we can put the term excited into context by clicking on it. We can see the number of posts containing the word, sound bites making up the total, and can filter on that precise term to find associated hashtags that can inform a brand’s messaging:


Now that we know the U.S. is looking forward to serving, let’s find out where – and the potential these events have for encouraging long-term consumer connections.

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U.S. Hotspots for Day of Service Events

There seems to be a lot of hope that January 18 will be a unifying and healing moment. The pandemic and social unrest made consumers feel misunderstood and vulnerable, and brands have an opportunity to lend a helping hand by valuing what consumers value. After all, 89% of shoppers stay devoted to brands that share their principles. And one event being held in high esteem right now, is this day of service.

Savvy companies such as Comcast, in addition to giving their employees the day off, are encouraging volunteer time as well. In 2020, they organized a ‘day on’ across 7 states and it included everything from food donations to working with students and rejuvenating schools.  Comcast doesn’t just talk the talk – they walk the walk.


Research suggests that brands who don’t recognize the holiday, could be sending a message that their diversity programs are just lip service. Additionally, they’re missing a chance to improve brand health by showing they care and connecting with consumers on a deeper level. 88% of consumers want companies to help them make a difference. And you can bet they are watching brands closely on and off-line. This is why social media listening is critical for locating opportunities to connect to your audience – and to meet consumers where they are.

Meeting Audiences Where They Are

By doing a quick search, we can see where people are making a difference by filtering our MLK conversation by primary location. As an example, in Atlanta we see information for virtual events. And in Memphis, they are seeking volunteers who “Care Like King.” And one organization,Volunteer Memphis is all over this day of doing.


Volunteer Memphis is “channeling the spirit” of Dr. King and calling on people to come together and think about how they can contribute to a better Memphis. And savvy brands are sponsoring these efforts, as seen on their promotional materials:


With both virtual and in-person options to choose from, Volunteer Memphis and brands that support their mission, embrace the spirit of unification through helping others. And helping others is, as they say, a ‘whole mood,’ which will explore next.

Predicting Success Based on Social Mood

When customers feel connected to brands, 57% will increase their spending with that brand and 76% will buy from them over a rival. This is the kind of brand loyalty you want. Right now, it’s vital that companies stay on top of how consumers are feeling and what their moods are, as you can measure brand health from them.

Social media listening reveals the social mood around Martin Luther King Day. Everything is transparent with a few clicks, so we can be 100% confident around the sentiment we’re capturing.

As we can see below, most moods are of the positive sort, though Sadness makes an appearance. However, on further exploration, it leads us to an article on the history of MLK day and how many states resisted making it an official holiday. So, though it’s considered a negative emotion, its energy isn’t focused on the coming celebration of MLK, it’s towards America’s history and failure to recognize this holiday sooner. And our star, Anticipation takes up more than half of our findings.


Understanding Audience Anticipation

Anticipation reveals posts like this one from a consumer sharing about Joshua Henry from Hamilton, and his joint efforts with Do Something in honor of Dr. King’s birthday (below). He’s releasing his song ‘Stand Up’ with proceeds going towards Do Something. And his message has Martin Luther King in mind: “The sentiment of ‘Stand Up’ is what I try to keep in the front of my mind: love, service, trying to make a change for good.”


With a following of 51K+ followers, you can bet consumers are watching and following his lead as an influencer. And it drives home the fact that real people are key to a brand’s ongoing, positive relationship with its consumers. For example, 70%, say they feel more attached when a brand’s CEO is active on social media. And 40% of consumers feel more connected to a brand, when they speak about important issues facing society.

Do you really want to miss out on all of the potential impressions available to your brand when it shows a little caring on this important day?


Consumers are ready for positive change and brands can’t afford to stay silent on today’s hot topics. Knowing how to address them and where to engage is key to winning over your audience. Social media monitoring and social media listening can help you navigate these perilous waters and create connections that you can likewise nurture over time.

Reach out for a demo to see consumer and market intelligence in action and connect deeply with your audience today!

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