Nothing is simple in business or politics when everyone in the world is able to share their opinion at the click of a few keys. The only way to know where you stand is by looking to social sentiment for a reality check.
Social Listening Should Be Your First Step
In a perfect world, social media would be every brand’s first step – before announcing anything. Why put something out there and then deal with backlash if it’s not well received, when you can put out feelers to find out before things are set in stone?
It’s unknown if the U.K., for example, did any social sleuthing before announcing their passports would revert back to their original blue color in 2019, when Brexit goes into effect.
In December, the news inspired both prominent fans and detractors to chime in – most notably politician Nigel Farage and musician Billy Bragg, respectively.
And what about now? A NetBase Pro search reveals the conversation volume has dipped, but those opposed to the change are still voicing their displeasure. For many, the change is considered an empty gesture of faux patriotism:
At least that seems to be the case, judging by the numerous retweets and likes the above post generated.
But this is the kind of intel that’s crucial even if you’re not in the U.K. If the U.S. – or any other country – were considering a similar change, they’d be smart to learn from the backlash here, and send up a test balloon via social to assess sentiment.
Passion Is Powerful
The important thing to remember is that you don’t need everyone to be talking for a post to have power. If the people talking are passionate enough about the topic at hand, they can still cause you trouble – or help you out of it.
And you may be surprised by what gets people riled up. The color of one’s passport doesn’t seem such a big deal – until you look at it through the lens of history, or apply modern-day context.
Or until you consider the rabid devotion of sports fans, or comic book fans, or vegans, or – well, you name it.
People are passionate about any number of things, and it’s your job to know what those things are if you want to reach them, or stay on friendly terms.
One of those things is a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder – something you might question the wisdom of changing. But McDonald’s is smart enough to know they’ve got to keep up with consumer trends – like fresh, more healthful ingredients.
They recently changed their Quarter Pounder burgers to fresh (versus frozen) patties, and diners are loving them:
The lesson here is to always look to social for confirmation that your great idea is actually great. Even if social analytics tells you something should work, you have to follow up in real-time to be sure the actuality matches your projections. If it doesn’t, you can make live course corrections to minimize any losses.
It might sound restrictive, but it’s actually the opposite. Assessing social sentiment allows you to take action only when you know it’s worthwhile – saving you time, money, and the hassle of negative feedback.
As Brexit approaches, and the passport color change becomes a reality, social analytics could be a big help to U.K. leaders trying to weather that storm.
And for all brands and businesses, learning from others’ mistakes is just another crayon to color with.
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