What Is Social Sentiment and Why Is It Important?

Social Sentiment
Getty Images / SrdjanPav

With social media trends changing all the time, it's important to stay up-to-date about new tools and concepts. It's overwhelming to try to produce excellent content, interact with your customers, and follow what is said about your brand and your industry. It can also be difficult to tell if all of your efforts are producing real results for your business. To properly measure this, you need to be tracking the right metrics on social media.

One of the most important measurements is social sentiment.

Social sentiment is a way of measuring the emotions behind social media mentions. It is a manner in which you can measure the tone of the conversation that's being had--is this person satisfied, happy, angry, or annoyed? It's not enough to know that something is trending. Sentiment adds context to social media. Without sentiment, data can be easily misleading. For example, if your company was launching a new product and it was receiving a huge amount of mentions, you might automatically assume that the product has been well-received. However, there's the distinct possibility that some or most of these posts were negative.

How Social Sentiment is Measured

Depending on the size of your company, and the amount of social media posts about it, it can be a huge time commitment to measuring sentiment on your own. An entirely thorough review might include reading through each post and assigning a numerical score based on the tone of each post.

Luckily, there is a host of tools available to measure and track sentiment. Many of them are free, or at least inexpensive. Many social media platforms provide some sentiment analysis. Tools like BuzzSumo, Google Alerts, PeopleBrowsr, and HootSuite all provide similar services. If a customer tweeted about an experience they had while shopping at Target, the sentiment would be identified based on descriptive words they used.

"Great bargains at Target" would be identified as having a positive sentiment, whereas "Awful customer service at Target" would register as negative.

Sentiment vs. Semantic Analysis

While social sentiment and semantic analysis are similar, there are some key differences. Semantic analysis is best described as “keyword analysis,” but it can also be thought of as “topic analysis.” 

Semantic analysis is the study of the meaning of language and how language is understood. For example, when someone says the word “banana,” do they mean a specific brand of banana, or are they just speaking generally? You can use semantic analysis to extract useful, relevant information from large amounts of text and analyze foreign words and regional colloquialisms.

Four Ways You Can Use Sentiment

  1. Evaluating Your Brand's Health
    To understand customers' feelings about your brand, it's important to analyze social sentiment regularly. It's an important exercise that aids in your understanding of people’s feelings about your company, product, or service.

    It can be very beneficial to use an automatic sentiment analysis tool to obtain a simple overview of brand health without delving through each post about your brand.
  1. Dealing with a Crisis
    Social sentiment can clue you into signals that might indicate dramatic shifts in your brand health.

    A spike in negative posts about your brand might indicate a developing crisis. Your PR department can use social sentiment tools to find the root of the problem and establish a plan to correct this negativity. 
  2. Researching the Competition
    Social sentiment is a great tool to find out how your product or brand is perceived compared to your competitors. Once you understand your competitors' respective sentiments, you can strategize about ways to change the conversation about your brand.
  3. Moving Forward
    Using these powerful social sentiment measuring tools, you can keep up with the ever-changing conversation about your brand and stay relevant well into the future.