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Social engagement comes down to connecting with consumers where they live emotionally. So how do you do that? By defining what matters most to you and to them, and finding that crossover.

Social listening with purpose

Brand values aren’t one size fits all. They don’t happen accidentally, and they may change over time – in fact they should as the values of your audience change.

If you aren’t sure what you want your brand to be “about,” social listening is the way to learn what touches the heart of your audience – and let that passion inspire your direction.

The evolution of fast food brands is a great example of this. Most fast food – or “quick service” – brands aren’t known for their nutrition. In fact, most health and fitness advocates would consider these foods to be guilty pleasures, steering clear of them as a general rule.

The smartest brands have used social media to understand the psychographic attitudes and behaviors of this audience segment and make changes that allow these consumers healthier options. You can order a salad at any McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s, for example.

Taco Bell recently took things a step further though, reaching a specific subset of this audience – the keto dieters. Beyond generic, so-called healthier options, Taco Bell targeted those who live a ketogenic – or low carb – lifestyle, and the keto crowd is loving it.

Decide what you stand for

You may not need audience inspiration to know what your brand’s values are. In this case, you want to clearly define what your brand’s mission is, and find the people whose values align with yours.

At our recent NetBase LIVE conference, we heard from Hyundai about how they did this – by deciding their brand was all about being “better.” With this word as their mantra, the automobile brand has made an impact in the world by partnering with BuzzFeed to do some good in the world.

Feeding the homeless, planting rooftop farms, and life coaching during peoples’ morning commutes are just a few of the social efforts Hyundai has spotlighted. And their fans love them for it.

The lesson here is brand success is about more than simply having a great product. You’ve got to carve out a purpose for your brand, and engage the consumers also passionate about that purpose.

Measure in love

Along with being part of the lyric to a great Broadway song, measuring in “love” – or sentiment – is the way you find consumers who share your values.

You start by seeking the people who care about what you want them to care about – feeding the homeless, for example. But you don’t stop there. You find the people most passionate about this cause, and you look at what else matters to them.

This is where inspiration can hit – revealing another value your brand can assimilate. Or you simply find other topics of conversation to touch on as you’re engaging your audience. They want to know you understand them well enough that you care about the things they love – or the things they find annoying.

Both ends of the passion spectrum matter. After all, a passion for helping the hungry could also be framed as hating that there are people in the world without enough food.

The perks of knowing yourself

Whichever approach you take – using sentiment analysis to define brand values based on consumer interests, or to find those who align with values you’ve already set – you can’t go wrong when you engage those with the strongest positive emotions. They’re the ones who’ll help spread the word.

Just be sure you always keep tabs on strong negative emotions to be sure they aren’t aimed at your brand. Real-time social monitoring will keep you out of trouble there. And clearly defining and conveying what your brand is about will inspire an army of kindred spirits to defend you as well.

We’re always happy to demonstrate how our sentiment analysis tools work. Reach out for a one-on-one tutorial.

Image from Howard Lake

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