For brands, understanding what your customers really think about you isn’t just a curiosity; it’s an essential element of growth and success. After all, when you have a handle on your audience’s feelings, you can tweak your marketing tactics, refine your products, and ramp up the overall customer experience.
But let’s face it, you can’t realistically ask every single customer how they feel about your brand. Luckily, the internet has made their thoughts public. By sifting through data from online conversations, you can uncover gold nuggets of insight into how your brand is doing. This whole process is what’s called brand sentiment analysis.
What is Brand Sentiment Analysis?
Brand sentiment analysis is the process of examining and interpreting the sentiments, attitudes, and emotions that people express about a brand, product, or service.
This analysis involves sifting through online data — social media conversations, customer reviews, news articles, and more — and using advanced algorithms to determine the emotional tone of these discussions. The goal? To understand how people feel about a brand and to use this information to improve the brand’s reputation and marketing strategies.
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How to Conduct a Brand Sentiment Analysis
Going beyond counting mentions or tracking hashtags, brand sentiment analysis focuses on understanding the context and feelings behind those mentions. Here’s a general breakdown of how to do it:
- Goal Setting. Before you jump in, figure out what you want to achieve. Are you curious about how your brand is generally perceived, or do you want to assess a recent marketing campaign? Clear goals will help you focus your efforts.
- Keyword Selection. Pick specific keywords and search terms to find relevant information. This helps you collect data that directly pertains to your brand and objectives.
- Data collection. Use brand sentiment analysis tools to collect data from various sources — social media platforms, blogs, forums, news articles, etc. — that are relevant to the search query.
- Analysis. Once the data is collected, these tools will typically use algorithms that employ statistics, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and machine learning to determine the feeling, or sentiment, behind the conversations.
- Sentiment classification. Each piece of content that’s analyzed is classified, typically as either “positive,” “negative,” or “neutral.”
- Reporting. After classifying content, sentiment analysis tools will then report the findings. Often, it’ll be displayed visually for you to identify trends and patterns in your sentiment analysis over time.
Best Tools for Brand Sentiment Analysis
While “manual” analysis of sentiment is technically possible, most brands rely on powerful tools and technologies that automate the process for them. Some solid options include:
Rival IQ is your go-to tool if you want to dive deep into your competitive landscape. Our social listening capabilities let you monitor and analyze the sentiment of everything from campaigns to competitors to industry trends. Additionally, our platform is purpose-built for competitive analysis, offering tools and benchmarks that add competitive context to all of your social metrics for a fuller picture of how well your brand is performing.
Quid offers powerful brand sentiment analysis capabilities, excelling in turning massive data sets into actionable insights. With Quid’s market-leading NLP, users can dissect loads of online conversations to gauge brand sentiment accurately. Plus, user-friendly and insightful visualizations and dashboards make it easy for businesses to make quick data-driven decisions.
Awario is a social media monitoring tool designed to track and analyze brand mentions. It stands out for its monitoring of over 13 billion web pages daily, helping users stay in the loop regarding their brand’s reputation, customer feedback, and emerging trends.
Brandwatch offers a suite of tools to help companies conduct research, monitor their brand, and engage with their consumers. The solution tracks mentions on over 100M sources across the web, broadcasts, and news. It also offers AI-powered analytics to help brands understand customer perceptions and sentiment.
Why Brand Sentiment Analysis Matters
It’s often declared that your brand is “what other people say about you.” No doubt, how your audience feels and talks about your brand can make or break your company’s success. That’s why being aware of those sentiments is so important.
Positive sentiment can turn the tide in your favor and draw customers in. Negative sentiment, on the other hand, can damage your image and steer potential customers away. And in the era of online reviews and social media, these opinions can spread like wildfire. By conducting brand sentiment analyses, you’re equipped with insights to help you take control of your reputation.
Sentiment analysis also goes deeper into the nitty-gritty of customer opinions, preferences, and emotions. This knowledge is invaluable for tailoring your products, services, and messaging to match your customers’ wants and needs.
Overall, those who understand and act on sentiment insights gain a distinct competitive advantage. By being in tune with your audience’s feelings, you can address issues head-on, note when your efforts are successful, and change course when necessary. It also helps you spot trends and identify opportunities to get ahead of the competition.
Use Cases for Brand Sentiment Analysis
When leveraged correctly, brand sentiment analysis can be a game-changer for businesses. Let’s dive into some practical use cases that showcase its incredible potential.
Brand sentiment analysis is a great way to keep tabs on your campaigns and see how they’re doing. Are consumers excited and engaged with the campaign, or are they disappointed or confused? Understanding these sentiments helps you tailor your messaging and strategy, ensuring campaigns resonate with your audience.
Take Dunkin’ Donuts’ campaign to give out free coffee to educators in celebration of World Teachers’ Day on October 5th. Did the campaign successfully generate favorable buzz for the brand? Did it have an impact on how its customers viewed the brand? Should this campaign continue each year? These are the kinds of questions that brand sentiment analysis can help answer.
As Rival IQ’s social listening feature shows, “free coffee” was the top driver of positive sentiment for Dunkin’ Donuts within a recent 30-day timeframe, suggesting that the campaign successfully left a positive impact on its audience.
Product and Service Improvement
Sentiment analysis can also reveal product issues via online customer feedback about your products or services. This helps you pinpoint recurring issues, allowing you to address them proactively. For instance, if you discover a pattern of negative sentiment around a specific issue, you can prioritize fixing it.
For United Airlines, this would clearly be the issue of lost luggage. As seen in the sentiment analysis below, recent conversations about the airline were mostly negative, driven largely by the phrase “lose luggage.” This insight can then inform the brand’s future strategies, which could be anything from improving their baggage handling procedures or providing better customer support for customers who have lost their luggage.
On the flip side, sentiment analysis can also reveal suggestions and ideas for improving your products or services. Customers may provide valuable insights into what they would like to see. These ideas can help you plan your product development roadmap.
Regularly analyzing brand sentiment can also serve as an early warning system for potential crises. By actively monitoring brand sentiment, you have the chance to address any negative sentiments before they spiral out of control.
Similarly, when a crisis does hit, sentiment analysis can help you assess the impact and inform your crisis management strategy. The better you get at understanding the emotions behind conversations about your brand, the better you’ll be at protecting your reputation by taking the right actions.
A great example of the importance of sentiment analysis is the #McDStories incident back in 2012. As part of an effort to shine the spotlight on its suppliers, McDonald’s had intended to use #McDStories as a promoted hashtag. However, the plan quickly backfired, with Twitter users using the tag to share all types of negative experiences with the brand.
Now, if the fast food giant had simply tracked the use of the hashtag, the campaign would’ve seemed like a success. Thousands of users were tweeting the tag and #McDStories ended up trending. Luckily, though, McDonald’s had diligently analyzed the sentiment behind the tweets and ended up pulling the plug on #McDStories. The tag was promoted for less than two hours.
According to the brand’s social media director at the time, “Within an hour of pulling #McDStories the number of conversations about it fell off from a peak of 1600 to a few dozen. It is also important to keep those numbers in perspective. There were 72,788 mentions of McDonald’s overall that day so the traction of #McDStories was a tiny percentage (2%) of that.”
In a world where 51% of consumers aren’t shy about calling out brands on social media, staying on top of sentiment is essential. Preventing crises and navigating through them becomes smoother when you’re in tune with your audience’s feelings. Take a cue from the #McDStories episode, where a little sentiment analysis went a long way in averting a massive PR storm.
Wrapping It Up
The scenarios above are just a few of the many use cases for brand sentiment analysis. As you can see, it’s not just about understanding how your audience feels; it’s about transforming those insights into actions.
So, if you haven’t already embraced brand sentiment analysis, it’s time to take that leap. Explore the tools and techniques available and start listening to the emotions and opinions of your audience. Your brand’s story is a conversation and sentiment analysis is the key to shaping it.