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Clearly it’s important to understand the entire space your brand fits into online – you can’t compete if you don’t. But which metrics matter most?

Perception of your brand

It doesn’t matter what you think of your brand if you’re not communicating it well enough for consumers to “get it.” You have to know – and face the reality of – consumer opinion before you can make brand decisions.

Within this realm, sentiment is the foundation of everything you explore. It’s not about how many people are talking; it’s about what they’re saying and how they feel. Do they find your brand fun, informative, cutting edge? Or are you perceived as stuffy, out of date, and trying too hard?

The (mostly) great thing about social media is the brutal honesty created by its distance and anonymity. Consumers don’t pull punches when it comes to sharing their thoughts and emotions – but this is a good thing for your brand. If you meet them where they are, you’ve a better chance of securing their devotion.

Look closely at emotional extremes – those who love, adore, and can’t live without your brand, and the opposite. With negative feedback, weed out the trolls from the genuine prospects you can convert with a little well-placed TLC. With positive feedback, find those with the ears of other consumers – and turn them into influencers.

Perception of competitors

Consumer opinion of other brands in your space provides crucial insights as well. There’s no reason to learn things the hard way when you can simply investigate competitors’ hits and misses using social analytics.

The same basic approach applies: Use sentiment to identify the strongest fans and detractors of competing brands, and to understand the “why” behind the emotions. What do your competitors’ customers love or hate about them – and how can you use this information wisely?

Perhaps you’re breaking too far out of what consumers expect in your category – or maybe your success is built on being so different you can’t help but stand out. These insights help refine your social media branding – so you’re delivering what your audience wants, and nothing else.

Emerging trends

What’s the best party ever? The one you weren’t at. Avoid missing the party by applying real-time sentiment analysis to spot trends as they develop.

Note that a trend doesn’t have to be an iconic bit of fashion – like bell bottom jeans or Uggs booties. Anything consumers latch onto in the short term or long could be worthy of your attention – if your sentiment analysis tells you so. Fair game:

  • New products or services being embraced by consumers
  • Products people wish existed – or have created on their own
  • Events everyone is raving about – i.e., awards shows, sporting events, or the season premiere of a popular show
  • Games like Pokémon GO taking the world by storm
  • Viral videos for as long as their “moment” lasts

Not all trends are worth jumping on, but when they are you want to know and act early. Social monitoring is all about tracking social conversations so you have that information while it’s still relevant.

The same is true of all brand metrics. Be sure your social listening happens in real-time, so your decision-making is based on the most accurate insights you can get. Otherwise, you’ll waste your digital marketing budget on ideas that won’t pan out. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

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Image from Rusty Clark

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