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The importance of social media sentiment analysis (and how to conduct it)

Today’s marketers are rightfully obsessed with metrics.

But don’t forget that your customers are more than just data points.

And yeah, it’s easy to overlook our customers’ feelings and emotions, which can be difficult to quantify.

However, consider that emotions are the number one factor in making purchasing decisions. With so many consumers sharing their thoughts and feelings on social media, it quite literally pays for brands to have a pulse on how their products make people feel.

Enter the world of sentiment analysis.

Rather than let your customers’ emotions fall by the wayside, brands today can translate those feelings into actionable business data.

In this guide, we’ll break down the importance of social media sentiment analysis, how to conduct it and what it can do to transform your business.

What is sentiment analysis?

Sentiment analysis is the process of retrieving information about a consumer’s perception of a product, service or brand.

If you want to know exactly how people feel about your business, sentiment analysis can do the trick. Specifically, social media sentiment analysis takes the conversations your customers are around the social space and puts them into context.

Think of sentiment analysis as a subset of social listening. While businesses should obviously monitor their mentions, sentiment analysis digs into the positive, negative and neutral emotions surrounding those mentions.

Does your product give customers a sort of warm, fuzzy feeling? Are you meeting their expectations with your quality of service? Sentiment analysis can answer these questions and then some.

Bear in mind that your mentions, whether they be positive or negative, don’t happen in a vacuum. Rather than obsess over a one-off compliment or complaint, brands should look at the bigger picture of their customers’ feelings. For example, a flurry of praise is definitely a plus…

…and a flood of complaints can clue you in on problems with your product or service that need to be addressed.

The beauty of social media for sentiment analysis is that there’s so much data to gather. With more and more consumers tagging and talking about brands on social, chances are you can already start analyzing how your customers feel about you. Additionally, social sentiment analysis encourages businesses to take a more proactive approach to social media and engage with their customers directly.

How to conduct sentiment analysis yourself

With a basic understanding of what sentiment analysis is, let’s talk about how you actually go about conducting it. Although sentiment analysis can result in valuable insights to brands, it’s not without its challenges.

Find out where folks are talking about you

As noted, consumers are sounding off on brands like never before. This rings true both on social media and off.

Businesses obviously need to be paying attention to their social mentions on Twitter or Instagram where customers are addressing you directly. Doing so is a great way to capitalize on praise and address criticism in a timely manner.

That said, you also need to monitor third-party sites and review forums. This includes Google Reviews, Reddit and sites such as Yelp!

And if you’re in the realm of ecommerce, your on-site reviews are particularly valuable. Don’t neglect the insights from loyal customers who arguably mean the most to your business. Here’s an example of positive sentiment from one of J. Crew’s product pages.

Monitoring all of these platforms manually can certainly be time-consuming. That’s why we recommend a social listening tool such as Sprout for the sake of saving time. For example, with Sprout, you can pick your priority networks for listening to avoid monitoring your mentions “by hand.” Additionally, you can track keywords related to your brand in cases where customers don’t tag you directly.

Choose your terms for sentiment analysis

Sentiment analysis is only effective when you’re able to separate your positive mentions from your negative ones.

That means searching for relevant terms which highlight customer sentiment.

Some sentiment terms are relatively straightforward and others might be specific to your industry. Either way, your sentiment terms need to be divided into positive and negative terms. Below is a quick example of what some of those terms might look like for a sentiment search.

  • Positive: best, love, high-five, amazing, perfect, thanks
  • Negative: worst, hate, ugh, disappointed, bad, avoid

To show what basic positive sentiment analysis looks like in action, let’s search the term “love” alongside @Glossier on Twitter. The results are a list of compliments and praise from satisfied customers:

See how that works?

Put your mentions into context

This is where sentiment analysis gets tricky.

The volume of sentiment-related terms in your searches doesn’t always tell the full story of how your customers feel. It’s crucial to double-check your mentions and leave some room for analytical error.

Here’s a good example from Netflix’s Facebook page. Fans are obviously singing the praises of their programming, but they’re also throwing in terms like “ugly,” “cry” and “depressed” while doing so. If you saw those terms pop up in your mentions without context, it might be cause for alarm.

Sarcasm can likewise create confusion when it comes to sentiment analysis. When somebody tweets “I love it when I lose my luggage after a nine-hour flight,” they obviously aren’t thrilled about their experience.

Although sentiment analysis is going to be accurate most of the time, you’re always going to have these sorts of outliers. A combination of manual listening and machine learning is ideal for getting the most “complete” sentiment analysis possible, which actually leads us to our next point.

Let a sentimental analysis tool do the legwork for you

Sprout’s social listening capabilities can help eliminate some of the most tedious and time-consuming tasks related to social listening. The sheer volume of conversations happening right now is reason enough to invest in a third-party listening tool.

For starters, Sprout monitors and organizes your social mentions in real-time. With the help of our query builder, you can pick and choose terms related to sentiment analysis that you want to track.

Meanwhile, your Active Listeners allow for one-click access to queries including complaints, compliments and specific customer experiences.

Oh, and don’t forget your sentiment analysis report. Sprout’s report monitors not only your positive, negative and neutral mentions for a particular time period, but also digs into how those mentions have evolved over time. In other words, you can determine whether your brand perception is improving or not from month-to-month.

How to build a better business through sentiment analysis

The insights gleaned from sentiment analysis can translate directly into positive changes for your business.

Below is a snapshot of some of the benefits of conducting regular sentiment analysis regardless of what you’re selling.

Step up your customer service

As noted earlier, sentiment analysis encourages brands to keep a closer eye on their mentions. This means being more attentive to comments and concerns as they pop up. Addressing these mentions, both negative and positive, signals that you’re listening to your customers.

Spot opportunities to improve your products

On a related note, monitoring compliments and complaints can help you understand what people want to see from you in the future. Consumers today are anything but shy when it comes to sounding off, but it’s still up to brands to open their ears for feedback.

Conduct comprehensive competitive analysis

Just as you want to know how people feel about your business, you should also have a sense of how your audience feels about your competitors. Especially when people are searching for recommendations, multiple brands are tagged side-by-side. Through sentiment analysis, you can understand why someone might bounce to a competitor or prefer their product to yours.

Make sure your messaging is on-point

Finding your tone on social media can definitely be a challenge. Right now, many customers are engaging with humorous brands like MoonPie specifically because of their snark. Increasing your positive mentions might mean tweaking how you talk to your customers and build more buzz.

Monitor your long-term brand health

This is the big one.

Just as you mentor your traffic and followers, tracking sentiment over time ensures that you have a positive relationship with your audience and industry.

Sentiment analysis is particularly important when your business is making big moves. For example, product launches, pricing changes and another big announcement could see a significant shift in your brand sentiment. Keeping an eye on these numbers on a regular basis can provide you with peace of mind or spot a potential crisis before it occurs.

And with that, we wrap up our guide to sentiment analysis!

Do you know your followers and customers feel about you?

Your customer’s feelings and emotions are simply too important to ignore.

Through sentiment analysis, there’s no second-guessing where people stand on your brand. With the ability to monitor and analyze the conversations happening on social media and beyond, you can use those feelings to make actionable decisions on behalf of your business.

We want to hear from you, though. How do you keep an eye on your customers’ emotions? How much stock do you put into your compliments and complaints on social? Let us know in the comments below!

This post The importance of social media sentiment analysis (and how to conduct it) originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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Social Media Secrets: 5 Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

It's plain to see that B2B marketers, at large, see the value in social media. The latest B2B benchmarking research from CMI and MarketingProfs found that nearly two out of three respondents (61%) increased their usage of social media for content marketing purposes in the previous year. Another new report shows that social content is atop the list of focal areas for B2B marketers in the coming year.

It’s also fair to say, based on various data points and conversations with folks in the biz, that most of us feel we could be doing better with social. The size of the audiences on these platforms make them essential to any digital strategy, but breaking through suppressive algorithms and showing clear ROI is a perpetual challenge for brands.

One pivotal key to excelling with social media marketing is understanding all the tools you have at your disposal. Each platform offers a number of capabilities that seem to be underutilized by marketers who either don’t know they exist, or don’t fully recognize their potential impact.

With this in mind, we’re setting out to highlight some of the most useful yet overlooked features for driving results on social media platforms. Today we're focusing on the channel most pertinent to B2B marketers: LinkedIn*, with its member base of more than half a billion professionals.

Take Notice of These 5 Marketing Tools & Features on LinkedIn

Whether your goal is building brand awareness, generating leads, or boosting conversions, these five fundamental functionalities can provide a big assist if you aren't taking advantage of them already.

#1: Robust (and Now Simplified) Audience Targeting

LinkedIn recently overhauled its Campaign Manager tool (the interface through which marketers build, manage, and measure ads) around an objective-based advertising framework. The basic purpose of this initiative was to make it easier for users to align every element of their campaigns with the overarching objective. One of the slickest improvements to come out of this is the audience setup experience, which is now simpler and more intuitive.

From a B2B marketing perspective, the depth of available professional targeting parameters is by far LinkedIn’s biggest relative advantage compared to other social platforms. Nowhere else can you accurately filter audiences based on facets such as Job Title and Job Seniority. This provides unparalleled ability to reach decision makers and purchase influencers directly.

The revamped interface makes it quicker and more straightforward to select a qualified audience in line with your campaign goals.


#2: Revamped LinkedIn Analytics

The latest Social Media Marketing Industry Report via Social Media Examiner found more than half of respondents (54%) either uncertain or disagreeing that they are “able to measure the return on investment (ROI) for my organic social media activities.”

This is another area of Campaign Manager that LinkedIn recently spruced up. Given that advertising on this platform tends to be more expensive than other social networks, it’s especially important to ensure you’re getting return on that spend. The new reporting experience makes it easier to see results at a glance, and make optimization tweaks on the fly.

The underlying appeal of LinkedIn’s targeting facets also applies to its reporting mechanism; you can get an aggregated look at who is viewing and engaging with your content (i.e., which companies, which job titles, which experience levels). These insights can help you align your LinkedIn strategy and even your content marketing strategy more generally.

#3: Content Suggestions

Can’t figure out what to share on social media? That’s a common enough challenge. The Content Suggestions tab, found on the top nav bar within LinkedIn Page admin center, offers ample inspiration. It serves up a list of third-party articles your defined audience is engaging with — essentially a readily available stream of targeted, trending content.

Not only does this make it easy for marketers and social media managers to find share-worthy content that’s more likely to resonate with their followings, but it can also fuel employee advocacy efforts.

#4: Website Retargeting

Retargeting is a popular digital marketing tactic, which involves serving ads to people who’ve already encountered your brand. The element of familiarity, plus a concrete demonstration of past interest, tends to drive considerably higher clicks and conversions than standard ads.  

Through its Matched Audiences feature, LinkedIn allows you to place a pixel on your company’s website, then serve ads to people who’ve visited it before, while they’re on LinkedIn. It’s a great way to follow up with someone in a different context. One especially savvy approach is to create customized retargeting creative based on the specific section of your site a person visited (i.e., upper-funnel messaging for someone who went to your “About” page, and lower-funnel for someone who checked out a solution page.)


#5: Lead Gen Forms

This might be my favorite marketing tool on LinkedIn, and it definitely seems like one that more B2B brands could be utilizing. Lead Gen Forms are leveraged in combination with various types of ads, enabling your company to collect valuable contact info (and additional data about a prospect) from an individual who downloads something of value with minimal friction.

Unlike most gated-asset forms, which require a user to tediously fill out multiple fields, Lead Gen Forms automatically populate based on the member’s LinkedIn profile data. As such, it takes only a couple of seconds to get through the process. Because you’re attaining a more comprehensive snapshot of people who download, you can better qualify them as leads in comparison with other form-fills that often procure only a name, phone number, and email.


Step Up Your LinkedIn Marketing Game

LinkedIn can be one of the most valuable components of a holistic B2B marketing strategy. As mentioned earlier, there’s no denying it’s a pricier place to play than most other social networks, but you’re also paying for access to a higher-quality audience. Using the five features above can help you understand, segment, reach, and engage this audience efficiently while closely tracking the impact of your efforts.

Another underutilized tool on LinkedIn is video, which has been a key focus for the platform recently. Learn about all the metrics and specs for video on LinkedIn, as well as every other major social network!

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Social Media Secrets: 5 Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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