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It’s easy for agencies to fall into a habit of creating social media messaging around client demands, without listening to how consumers respond in the social landscape.

But what’s your social media strategy truly achieving unless you are listening to your audience’s sentiment?

Audience sentiment is exceptionally important to help establish an accurate social media messaging strategy.

In this post I’ll tell you why, how you can do it, and I’ll share four quick ways to use audience sentiment to guide your social media messaging strategy.

Enterprise agencies and businesses heavily invest in data science and marketing analyst research for audience sentiment. Although costly, it provides them with a robust picture of their customers’ opinions and behaviors.

You don’t need to be an enterprise-sized company to extract mountains of ripe information from your consumers. It’s all on social media.

Small and agile agencies can retrieve all this data in smart ways.

How To Harness Sentiment Analysis On Social Media

Sentiment analysis is simple: break down or segment text into particular topics so you can infer positive, negative, or neutral sentiments from it.

Here’s how to do it:

Collect Sentiment Information Or Data Sets.

You can do this by leveraging a wide range of sources such as reviews, tweets, Facebook posts, and forums.

If you don’t have the resources to purchase tools (such as social listening software) you can conduct your own study manually.

Try searching branded keywords on Google, on popular forums your users visit, or even through social media search bars.

Make note of all the comments, reactions, and discussions. Keep track of them in a spreadsheet in a way that works for you.

Conduct A Sentiment Analysis.

Experts use the popular data analysis language, Python, to do this. If you’re not comfortable coding, there are tons of free programs on the web that do the technical work for you and spit out the insights.

I like to use NC State University’s Tweet Sentiment Visualization. You can find a way to organize and label sentiments in your spreadsheet with numeric values or a rating system, for example.

Draw Conclusions Based On The Sentiment Information.

Analyze the data and gain a full understanding of what your audience is saying, and how they are saying it.

Visualizing the data once it’s collected can help you fully understand what your audience is thinking and feeling.

For example, you may discover that there is growing product dissatisfaction. Allow this sentiment to guide your social media messaging. Maybe you need to start a conversation that facilitates crowd-sourced product feedback. Perhaps you need to improve your customer service social media messaging game.

Four Ways To Use Sentiment Analysis To Make A Winning Social Media Strategy

1. Compare How Users Feel About Competitors Versus Your Own Brand.

Small business clients may be new to the market, or may not have a very large social following. This can make it seem difficult to mine audience sentiment data.

However, you can tap into your client’s competitor data.

For example, examine how the competitor’s audience feels about particular products or customer services.

Scroll through the competitor’s social feeds. Pay attention to the audience’s comments on their posts, their customer ratings, and the results that pop up when you search social, forum, and search engine feeds for the competitor’s name.

Ask yourself how they measure up in their audience’s eyes. How do they measure up to other competitors in the industry? Which competitor has the overall most positive reception?

Let the results guide your social messaging strategy while staying on brand. It might open up opportunities to change your messaging from playful to helpful. Perhaps it helps you realize that your competitor’s audience is looking for a human connection when they engage on social media.

Whatever it is, find a way to fill in the gaps of what’s missing in the social media landscape within your industry.

2. Brand Reputation Management.

You can understand audience sentiment very well when a crisis hits. Crises are never fun, but they can provide incredible insights into how your audience feels about your client’s brand based on the language and tone they use when they talk about you on social media.

Keep an eye on which direction the conversation goes when a crisis hits and then develop a strategy to respond to that crisis based on the conversation direction.

For example, if a crisis hits, look at your mentions and other conversation threads. Are your followers angry, upset, or disappointed?

Understanding the audience sentiment in this case will help you formulate an appropriate response.

But it goes beyond that. Understanding your audience’s reaction will help you understand who they are and what their values are. If you can understand them, then you can change your tone or voice in your messaging in the future to establish a more human connection with them through your social messaging approach.

3. Predict Their Reactions To Future Posts.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Look for reaction and sentiment patterns in your competitors’ or your own social media posts and learn from them.

The easiest way to do this is to follow a selection of posts on different social networks. Sample posts that take different approaches such as humor, positivity, education, or frustration, for example. Look at the audience’s reactions and document them.

What types of posts created a positive reaction? What posts began a discussion? What posts caused “surprised” or “love” reactions? Find the trends.

The next step is to create more posts that engage the audience in the right way for your brand.

This exercise will display how certain events, products, or services establish distinct reactions, which will help you craft a long term social media strategy going forward.

4. Product Development.

Maybe certain features of a product are highly praised, while others aren’t quite what consumers hope to see.

You can take years of customer complaint ticket information, or hours of customer product interviews into account to make product changes.

Or, you can save loads of effort and time by tracking audience social media sentiment on your client’s product.

This takes a bit of patience and a lot of listening, but your audience will definitely take to social media if they have gripes, or a profound love for your client’s business.

Their comments, tweets, and posts can go a long way to inform customer service and product improvements.

Checking forums, branded hashtags, and your mentions can be an excellent information source to help educate your client’s product direction. It can also inform your strategy for how to deal with messaging for product updates or roadblocks.

Summary

In traditional marketing, questions about consumer sentiment are nearly impossible to answer without surveys or focus groups. However, digital marketing, social media, and data analysis have opened the doors to information that used to be a total mystery.

It offers valuable insights without costing much effort. Paying attention to your audience’s comments, mentions, tags, reactions, and posts will help you discover where you can improve and how you can develop a stronger relationship with their audience through your social messaging.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Raquel Thoesen

Raquel Thoesen is a digital marketing manager at Markitors, a digital marketing agency that has a blast connecting small businesses around the world with the right customers.

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