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Competitor analysis is crucial to brand domination – but only if your insights are accurate. Without social media sentiment analysis you’re likely to act on half-truths. Here’s why.

Cold, hard metrics don’t tell you enough

If you’re not using advanced social analytics tools, you might be limited to metrics like mentions, retweets, and the like. You can look quickly at a brand’s mentions using any number of competitive analysis tools, but you don’t know what those mentions represent.

Suppose you’re a fashion retailer like Abercrombie & Fitch. You’d naturally want to know how brands like J. Crew and The Gap are doing on social media – one of the most accessible indicators of consumer opinion. You apply a tool like TweetReach to reveal the following:

How many of those more than 600K impressions are positive? Or negative? There’s no way to know – which means you have no way of knowing if the folks at J. Crew are doing better than you – or not – in consumers’ eyes. So how can you act on this intel?

Obviously you can’t, unless your marketing budget is padded for shots in the dark. But such risks are unnecessary – because the information you need is readily available.

The advantages of sentiment

As consumers share their lives on social, they color their posts with passionate emotion: They adore Ariana Grande, they’re obsessed with the new Dancing With the Stars cast:

At the same time they despise, loathe, and can’t stand other things. There’s no doubt – they feel things. Strongly.

This degree of sentiment is just as important as the sentiment itself. Who makes a better brand advocate, someone who likes you – as indicated by clicking that little heart on Twitter – or someone who’s obsessed with you?

The other thing measuring sentiment allows for is a clearer understanding of keywords. Consider the phrase “can’t stand.” Though negative at first glance, within a certain context it might actually be a positive indicator for your brand:

Sarcasm changes everything, so an understanding of true, human language is everything.

Note that emojis also tell the story. You need tools that account for and decipher them for true accuracy.

Other common mistakes sentiment corrects

Sentiment analysis doesn’t just qualify what you’re already looking at – it leads you to game-changing insights you might otherwise miss. Like who your competitors are.

Naturally you have an idea who your competitors are, but who are you discounting as too small to be a threat? Tracking sentiment shows you where the most passionate segments of your audience are pledging their devotion.

And passion can’t be dismissed. A small band of passionate consumers can break through the noise more readily than a larger group that is apathetic. Without precise data, you’ll pay too much attention to the wrong audience, while the right one becomes an army of influencers for the competition.

This is something brands like Nike and Under Armour are surely taking to heart after challenger brand Stance scored a Super Bowl commercial partnership – all thanks to their passionate fans.

Similarly, sentiment and passion point marketers to the biggest problems and biggest wins competitors have. This information tells you where to focus your energy to gain this audience for yourself.

Solve problems and become consumers’ heroes. Be inspired by consumer ideas, and competitor brand successes, and top them to win the marketplace in your category.

Without sentiment to narrow things down, you’ll expend a lot of time and money on things that don’t matter to consumers, while neglecting the things they truly care about.

Worst of all, acting on inaccurate insights opens the door to your competitors. That’s the biggest mistake of all.

We’re sharing expert sentiment analysis tactics and more at our upcoming conference, NetBase LIVE! Register today!

Image from Kurt Nordstrom

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