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If you sometimes feel like understanding the ins and outs of social analytics is akin to an episode of The Twilight Zone, you’re not alone. In honor of Twilight Zone Day – yes, it’s a thing – we’re offering up some survival strategies for brands of all sizes.

Never Trust Your Gut

Instinct may serve you well in many areas of life, but social analytics isn’t one of them. Data is useless if it isn’t accurate – and unless you’re NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, no one’s gut is 100 percent.

For example, let’s say you’re a local gym wanting to offer a weekly snack experience to your members. It would serve as both a reward for working hard at your fitness game, and an opportunity for members to network and socialize.

Someone suggests bagels and pizza, but your gut tells you that’s counterintuitive. People who come to the gym to workout are avoiding carbs! They’ll think it’s a ploy to keep them fat and unhealthy! What a terrible idea!

But then you do a little competitive analysis… and it turns out people love it.

Good thing you didn’t assume you knew better!

Love – and Hate – Is Your Guide

Love matters in social analytics, or more accurately, social sentiment does. Without social sentiment you don’t know which conversations to zero in on, or how to take action for your brand.

Wait, isn’t it pretty self-explanatory when you search on terms like “love” and “hate”? Ah, but social is like The Twilight Zone, remember? Not everything is as it appears.

State-of-the-art sentiment analysis tools do more than split your audience between lovers and haters. They take into account all manner of human language – from national languages, to pop culture references, netspeak, sarcasm, emojis and more.

It’s crucial to know when your audience’s words bely their actual meaning. Context is everything. Like this tweet about hating chocolate… which isn’t the true intent at all:

Additionally, social sentiment tools decipher the passion attached to emotion in posts, so you know which consumers are super obsessed with your brand – or beyond over you, and happy to shout it out on social channels.

Where conversations are passionately positive, you’ll find potential influencers to help amplify brand messaging.

Where conversations are passionately negative, be on the lookout for viral threats needing immediate resolution. An avalanche of bad press can start with a single snowflake of a tweet.

Goliaths Beware – Davids Are Everywhere

Size also doesn’t dictate the capacity of a competitor to dethrone you – even at the top of your game. Here again, while logic might insist a larger brand with an equal budget is impervious to being bested by a tiny upstart of a brand, the Twilight Zone of it all means you shouldn’t trust that idea.

That passion you’re analyzing is heady stuff – so never doubt a small, but mighty, army of fans can put a smaller or newer brand on a path to success as competitively dangerous as your longest-held rival.

The only thing guaranteed on social is its constant motion. Anything else you think you know is subject to change. That’s why you must let the data inform you, and keep at it in real-time, all the time.

Because much like The Twilight Zone, social analytics is “the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of [brand’s] fears and the summit of [their] knowledge.”

Wield it well.

Want to see our social analytics in action? Get in touch for a customized demo of our social sentiment tools!

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