Accuracy Differentiators: Why Your Social Listening Must Uncover Consumer Passion

Kimberly Surico |
 05/31/16 |
4 min read

passion-neonAll brands want to engage consumers on social, but values like mentions, likes, and retweets still leave you guessing what consumers are thinking. To gather precise information worth acting on, you’ve got to use social listening to uncover the depth of consumer emotions. Because knowing how much consumers love or hate you at any moment is how you identify influencers, and stop crises before they get out of hand.

Interpreting emotion through social languages

To recognize social influence both good and bad, you’ve got to know what you’re looking for.

Social audiences spend their time sharing how they feel about everything that happens to them as they live their lives. Thus, the most important use of real-time social listening is for checking in with those emotions and how they relate to your brand.

But there are levels of emotion, and knowing how they ebb and flow throughout a season, or even just a day, is a powerful data set – one you must be able to decipher. Consumers express themselves in all kinds of ways on social media, not just with text and exclamation points.

Language on social media is made up of slang and abbreviations, emojis, GIFs, and memes, often laced with sarcasm and snark. The true feelings behind such tones can be hard to spot without social listening tools made for the task. Can your software differentiate between a joking tone conveying authentic pleasure, or an audience segment making fun of your brand? The distinction is crucial.

Consider the recent announcement from Budweiser that they’re changing the name of their beer to “America” for the duration of the election season. Famously snarky comedian Colin Quinn tweeted:



Quinn has been around long enough to know that of course it’s an advertising campaign, so that’s clear sarcasm – but is he for it or against it? Further analyzing the tweet it appears that he is not for it or against it. Budweiser should certainly keep an eye on him, because he’s got a pretty big following at 400k-plus. And those followers could take the ball and run with it in either direction.

Taking control of your messaging

As it is, the replies to Quinn’s comment are mainly jokes about the upcoming election, and the state of the real America. Did Budweiser anticipate that? Perhaps, given that the campaign runs through election season in November.

But it’s not just about the election. The brand wants to “celebrate America and Budweiser’s shared values of freedom and authenticity,” according to AdWeek, and has promised “additional surprises” going into the Rio 2016 Olympics and the Fourth of July. They’ll want to use real-time sentiment monitoring for the duration to ensure their campaign doesn’t go wrong – or be able to tweak things if it does.

The ability to course correct is the biggest reason access to real-time insights is so crucial. If you wait until consumer sentiment has devolved it may already be too late. Being able to respond in the moment, to precisely the right thing, can save your brand a lot of money and aggravation.

A little help from your friends

There are other reasons to keep a close eye on consumer sentiment values like Net Sentiment (whether it’s positive or negative) and Passion Intensity (the strength of those emotions):

  • When trends are emerging you can jump right on board confidently, delivering exactly what consumers want “rn” or “right now”
  • You can spot negative conversations early, and do something about them before they go viral and impact your brand’s reputation
  • You can identify and court influencers who are as passionate about your brand as you are

Influencers make your job easier on both sides of the emotional spectrum. They amplify positive messaging, and they step in to diffuse negative sentiment. This is something sock apparel brand Stance has witnessed with their influencers, whom they call Punks and Poets.

In a recent webinar, Stance VP of Marketing Nick Tran stated, “Once we take that first step to understand if sentiment is negative, we see that most of the time our fans have jumped in for us to help. Guaranteed 90% of the time if someone complains of holes in their socks, someone will call out the person for having their socks for too long.”

To a me-centric audience, jumping in when negative sentiment flares demonstrates your brand is sympathetic to their needs. The assist from influencers also speaks volumes to consumers – who tend to take the word of other consumers over brands anyway.

For brands, understanding the way emotions drive social conversations can be the difference between amassing a loyal fan base ready to do battle on your behalf, and sending consumers in search of your competition. It’s the difference between accuracy and assumptions. Which would you rather use to inform brand decisions? It’s really a no-brainer.

Don’t settle for guessing – ask us how our real-time monitoring platform can give your brand insights that are laser focused.

Image from Anthony Easton

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