iStock_000014920298Small-resizedIt’s a common perception that there are more negative posts on social than positive. I was reminded of this the other day by an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. A sports columnist said, “In the Twitter world, where Warriors [basketball] fans opine and argue, you’ll find an anti-Jackson current, but that could be chalked up to the negative-skewing nature of social media, where haters seem to far outnumber lovers.” [my emphasis]

There’s a fair amount of evidence that supports the belief that social skews negative. For example, this infographic compares reviews of hotels on TripAdvisor to reviews gathered by traditional guest surveys. It shows TripAdvisor receiving three times as many negative reviews.

Is it true that social skews negative? We did a simple analysis to get a preliminary answer.

Positive and Negative People

We selected three well-known brands—Honda, Baskin-Robbins, and Pizza Hut—and found 100 people who love each brand and 100 people who hate each brand. We then trended the sentiment these groups expressed in general, that is, the sentiment of their posts regarding all other brands.

In all three of these resulting graphs, you can see that the darker line, representing lovers of a brand, pretty consistently shows more positive sentiment than the lighter line representing haters of a brand. In other words, if you love one brand, you tend to love lots of brands. And if you hate one brand you tend to hate lots of brands.


This bears out our findings in other analyses, which show that people who are negative about one brand are negative in general. The reverse is also true: People who are positive about one brand are positive in general.

Plan Your Targeted Responses Accordingly

One useful takeaway from knowing that negative posters tend to be negative in general applies to responding online to individuals who post negative comments. If you’re replying to someone who has said something negative about your brand, know that they generally are negative, so don’t beat yourself up if they come back at you with more invective. Of course, it’s always smart to evaluate their comments to see if there are useful critiques or insights, but consider the source before taking action or basing decisions on input from people who rarely look on the bright side.

To read more on the subject of using social analytics to accurately analyze consumer sentiment, download our paper, Can Social Media Measure Customer Satisfaction?

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