Why are so many brands still getting it wrong and making avoidable social slip-ups?

Major brands like the Washington Redskins, Victoria’s Secret, and SeaWorld  – to name a few –have ended up in the spotlight for the wrong reason by ignoring (or missing) a big piece of the social data puzzle: Emotion. Or, as we like to call it at NetBase – Passion.

If you think passion doesn’t matter, visit the comment thread of any popular blog and watch the sparks fly. On social media, it’s not logic that wins the day, it’s passion. How will your campaign make people FEEL? That’s what matters. And when you get it wrong, it can turn ugly fast.

So here’s what you need to know about it:

Later is too late

It’s crucial to have access to social data in real-time, because fallout happens in real-time. It doesn’t matter if people loved your brand last week, last quarter or last year. If (when) the conversation shifts in some way that’s relevant to your brand, you need to know about it. Right now.

And this changing timeline means decision-makers in the boardroom need immediate access, too. Gone are the leisurely days where marketers guided the social process for strategic impact, analysts processed data to indicate what happened and what it meant, and executives made decisions about the future based on the past.

Now, it’s those in the C-suite who must be able to see what’s happening and make instant decisions – because customer service is tied to social media, as is every other facet of how consumers perceive brands. A single misstep can take months or years to correct (if it CAN be corrected), and every second wasted is an opportunity for a brand’s competitors to gain the advantage.

Emotion Overload

It’s undeniable that emotion is a huge part of the social equation – but here are a few instances that I hinted to above to demonstrate:

  1. The Washington Redskins refused to change their team name and punctuated that decision with a social campaign asking fans to share their #RedskinsPride, but it didn’t go so well: “@Undertheman: U have 2 choices 1. Change your name 2. Move to Oklahoma & keep your racist name. Stop being a national embarrassment#RedskinsPride #inners
  1. Victoria’s Secret’s “Perfect Body” campaign struck a chord with women who felt labeling the identically-shaped (and likely photoshopped) models in one of their bra campaigns as “perfect” promoted the negative body image they have been trying to change: “Anne_A_Wilson: No such thing as a perfect body, @VictoriasSecret. Please, stop perpetuating this myth. Only harmful. #iamperfect
  1. And SeaWorld, hoping to encourage a positive dialogue about care of their marine animals and their conservation efforts, started the #AskSeaWorld campaign, but things quickly spun out of control putting the brand on the defensive: “@SeaWorld: Jacking hashtags is so 2014. #bewareoftrolls

Which only made things worse: “@TheOrcaProject: #AskSeaWorld Are you serious? We are all asking legitimate questions. This is your answer Tweet @SeaWorld? #Childish

In each case above, there was information available online that these brands could have used to understand the Net Sentiment of consumers. Had they taken their social listening to the emotional level, and understood the intensity of those emotions – the passion behind the deeper issues at hand – each of these brands could have thought of better campaigns, or been prepared with better responses to the inevitable backlash.

Apologizing or defending their position was likely not the ultimate ROI they were hoping for. But now, it’s too late.

Snapshot decisions

The fastest way those in the boardroom can absorb crucial social data and SEE what the Web is feeling about a particular topic is in visual form. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Not only from a time-sensitive standpoint, and not only from a ‘short attention span’ concern – but because viewing a snapshot of what’s happening helps leaders more thoroughly understand the big picture. And in this age of big data, wrapping your arms around any issue online has become increasingly problematic.

Best of all? Real-time insight that can be interpreted at a glance has the potential to turn any brand into a social genius. And data visualization is the future of social intelligence. Why? It means KPIs can be understood at a glance, allowing instant (and informed) decisions that will keep brands on point. And real-time data visualizations will help brands avoid costly, reputation-challenging missteps. Because let’s admit it – NOT all press is good press. And when you’re seeking to stand out, you want it to be for the right reasons…or at least your shareholders do!

Are you currently using data visualization? If so, what do you monitor and what’s your ROI? Share your story with us.

This post originally appeared on Commpro.

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