Feelings. They’re complicated. Especially where social media is concerned.

Throughout existence our brains have evolved to connect the dots of our experiences into meaningful patterns, but the boom of social media and digital language has made comprehending sentiment an entirely new beast.

This dilemma is particularly frustrating for marketers. Research has shown that people only agree on the sentiment of Tweets 60-80% of the time. Emojis, sarcasm, slang, limited context—these nuances in a new era of communication make opinion mining the world’s largest, most diverse and accessible focus group a not-so-pleasant job.

So how can today’s brands accurately gauge the public opinion of their online followings and keep up with customers in the place where they share their most candid feedback?

Sprout’s own listening solution for Twitter, now available as an add-on for Corporate and Enterprise plans, aims to be the answer to that very question. There are two features to Sprout’s listening suite that make the job of gauging customer sentiment a lot less overwhelming.

We Can All Benefit From a Good Listener

You can take the analytics around topics relating to your brand a big step further by creating a Sprout Listener. Access insights specific to the topic or hashtag you’re looking to dig into. You’ll uncover a variety of keywords and phrases that are negatively or positively associated with the Listener you set up.
The major difference between the analytics you track around a keyword and this method is that now your Listener will track the topic’s related hashtags, automatically bucketing them into positive and negative sentiment. You’re able to click into each bucket and see messages individually for more context.

For example, you’re the Director of Brand Strategy at a major food and beverage company. You’re in the midst of rebranding and in tracking social conversations using a Listener you discover the related topics under negativity are “sugar” and “concentrate.” This information guides your brand repositioning toward more health-conscious efforts and helps you directly tackle real customer concerns.

Essentially, a Listener does all the work—automating the process of organization and giving you presentation-ready metrics (regarding the topics that you consider most vital to your brand) to view and share.

Track Spikes in Positive vs. Negative Sentiment

To dive a little further into analyzing customer sentiment, Sprout features Emotional Response data in your Listener’s dashboard. This gives you a visual and quantifiable breakdown of distribution between positive, negative and even neutral sentiment to any topic or hashtag, as well as strictly positive vs. negative sentiment.

You’re able to click into the metrics and see every Tweet, gauging emotional resonance by measuring and analyzing sentiment to better understand your brand’s perception in the marketplace.

For example, a global car manufacturer could create a Listener in their latest car model’s name to seek unbiased feedback for improvements. With Emotional Response rates fixed into their reporting, it’s simple for them to note spikes in positive or negative sentiment. If they notice a significant jump in negative sentiment (compared to the previous reporting period) it’s easy to click into the metric and view the negative Tweets in one stream.

Understanding customer sentiment on social is listening to what your customers really have to say on the biggest stage there is. If you’re truly taking advantage of listening tools available, you’re not just gaining audience insight, you’re leveraging feedback to implement change.

Sentiment analysis can never be a perfect science, that’s true. But despite the fact that we can’t teach a machine every nuance of modern language, we can make technological leaps that make the process of parsing social feedback much more efficient. Now brands and organizations can move forward with a stronger, more intimately informed marketing strategy and gain actionable insights not just from what their customers’ are saying, but how their customers are feeling.