How To Measure Sentiment In Social Media


If you’re a big brand and people are talking about you everywhere online to the tune of millions of mentions, this may not apply.  What I’m talking about is how to know how people feel about your small to medium sized brand, based on the the conversations that are happening on Twitter, Facebook and your own blog.

I’ve looked at tests of software that measures sentiment.  There is a lot of irrelevant information to sift through.  There are conversations picked up that aren’t about your brand at all and evaluations of positive sentiment when the the comment is actually sarcastic and negative.  The bottom line is that it’s a bot evaluating human emotion, and considering that, it’s pretty amazing that it gets as much of the sentiment right as it does.

But if you really want to understand how people are responding to you on social media, the best way to do it is to actually read it.  To understand sentiment on your Facebook page, first take a quick temperature by by comparing the number of shares, comments and Likes to your average number. Then, read through the comments as if you were actually listening to people.

It’s a radical idea, I know.  Reading all the comments on Facebook or tweets or comments on your blog is time consuming.  So, if you don’t think that understanding how people feel about the content you are sharing isn’t important then don’t spend the time.  If you think there is value in it, your community manager should be reading it all.  That’s step one.

Then, so it isn’t all kept in her head, she should report on key insights from social media every week.  What was the standout Facebook post? Why?  What did we learn about our customers?  What does this mean for how and what we create going forward?

Understanding sentiment is such a small piece of what you learn when you actually read every customer communication. Software tools distance you from the customer while personal listening brings you closer. And the value of having the answers to the questions above?  Well, you decide if it’s worth your time.

2 Responses to How To Measure Sentiment In Social Media
  1. Jay Baer
    September 14, 2020 | 10:08 am

    100% this is the best possible option. Some companies/agencies will say it’s not possible and not scalable, but people read every email and field every phone call in most companies, so it IS possible. It’s just not inexpensive. But where did it ever say that social media had to be both transformative AND inexpensive?

  2. Ilana Rabinowitz
    September 14, 2020 | 10:24 am

    Thanks Jay,

    I just heard someone from Nordstrom speak at a conference. This very profitable, growing company has extraordinary attention to customer service to thank for their success. When most people hear stories of what Nordstrom is willing to do to surprise and delight customers, they say, “we could never afford to do that.”

    What you said about being transformative and inexpensive says this beautifully.


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