“Don’t believe everything you hear” is good advice — especially in an era of fake news and alternative facts. The same goes for managers who often rely on social-sentiment analysis to get a handle on what consumers think of their brands.
Social-sentiment analysis is the process of algorithmically analyzing social posts, comments, and behaviors and categorizing them into positive, negative, or neutral. Many companies use it to understand how their customers are feeling about their brands.
We recently conducted an extensive social-sentiment analysis with a team of researchers at Boston University’s Emerging Media Studies program. We asked 4,000 consumers in the US and UK about their actions and interactions with a wide range of brands over the last six months. These experiences were rated across more than a dozen dimensions, and we rolled up the results into a single Brand Experience score from 1 to 100.
Overall, our top 10-rated brands have a 200% better net promoter score (NPS) than the bottom 10 and have consumers who are 25% more likely to say they’re going to stay loyal. To round out the research, we enlisted a group of graduate students in Boston University’s Emerging Media Studies program to run social sentiment analysis against the brands, fully expecting to see high-scoring brands receive high levels of positive sentiment and low-scoring brands receive high negatives.
We were wrong.
There appears to be very little predictive power between how people appear to feel online and how consumers who have experiences with those brands rate them.
A study by Engagement Labs in the Journal of Advertising Research (editor’s note: cited as the JAR’s best Practitioner’s Paper in 2017) pointed out that online conversations about brands and offline conversations were not strongly related.
In a recent interview, the lead investigator pointed out that online reaction to the Dick’s Sporting Goods decision to stop selling assault rifles and require all gun buyers to be 21 was met with a large degree of negative sentiment online but more positive sentiment offline.
Forbes did an in-depth analysis of the social reaction to Nike’s decision to feature Colin Kaepernick in an advertising campaign. It found a significant spike in negative sentiment online in the hours after the ad was first released. But, within two days, the sentiment shifted to positive.
When it comes to social sentiment, listener beware.
Source: Panepinto, J. (2018, October 17). Brands Shouldn’t Believe Everything They Read About Themselves Online. Harvard Business Review.
Read the full JAR article here.