Social media sentiment analysis: what is it and how do you do it?

Your no nonsense guide to using social media sentiment analysis for your brand
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‘Social media sentiment analysis’ means analysing what your audience is saying about your brand across social media.

It can also encompass other digital platforms, reviews, articles, etc. This information can then be used for marketing, growth, and brand loyalty purposes.

What is social media sentiment analysis?

With social media sentiment analysis, you’re basically eavesdropping on conversations people are having about your brand online and using that knowledge in a constructive way. It’s often referred to as social listening and/or opinion mining.

If that sounds like a lot of man hours and money, don’t panic, because there are AI driven tools available that can do this for you. 

Which social media platform is best for sentiment analysis?

Short answer? All of them. Brands should ideally be looking out for mentions on the big social media platforms – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. 

You can also monitor third-party sites such as Google Reviews and Reddit, and if you have an e-commerce site with reviews, then these can prove invaluable if you pay close attention to what buyers are saying. 

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What are the types of social media sentiment?

Due to the scale of online mentions, sentiment is analysed with broad strokes, because there are so many different emotions that fall under this particular umbrella. Emotions are not an easy thing to measure, but if you split them into good, bad, and neutral categories, you can work out if your brand is being perceived in a positive light. 

When you begin your social media sentiment search, you’ll need to choose phrases to search for. In some cases, these will be industry specific; otherwise, they’ll be positive or negative. 

Sprout Social gives the below as an example of some positive and negative social sentiment terms:

  • Positive – best, love, amazing, perfect, high-five, thanks
  • Negative – worst, hate, ugh, disappointed, bad, avoid

Searching a bunch of terms like this doesn’t always give you the full picture, so you need to double-check your mentions. For example, an ironic statement such as ‘I hate that I want to eat X all the time’, might get alarm bells ringing, but in this instance the word ‘hate’ isn’t really negative.

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What is the best tool for sentiment analysis?

You can track social media sentiment manually (see below for how to do it), but it can be a laborious process. If you want a tool to do the hard graft for you, here’s our pick of the best social media sentiment analysis tools on the market today: 

  1. YouScan – with brands such as Coca-Cola, Samsung, and McDonalds among its clientele, this is the Rolls Royce of social listening tools. It includes image recognition features that can pick out photos of your brand and/or logo along with sentiment to give you an incredibly accurate look at how your brand is being perceived
  2. Hootsuite – if you use Hootsuite as your social media planner, then it’ll monitor your social media mentions automatically, and can make sentiment searching a lot easier. For example, you can create a search stream for Twitter with your brand name plus 🙂 for positive sentiment and 🙁 for negative. It can also track specific emotions over time, which enables you to look for any changes or emerging trends. You can filter sentiment by location or demographic and there’s an AI analysis option that’ll help to identify the root causes of any changes in sentiment
  3. Digimind – with Digimind, you get the benefit of information extracted from 850 million web sources, and you can use filters to customise the analysis
  4. Sprout Social – Sprout Social monitors your social mentions in real time and you can choose the words or phrases that you want to track. It also features a tab that gives you instant access to any queries, complaints or other customer-specific comments
  5. Oktopost – this social media management platform integrates with TikTok (check out our guide to TikTok influencer marketing) and offers social listening to discover trends and insights from social conversations that can be used in your marketing strategy
  6. TalkWalker – this tool collates information from 150 million online sources and uses AI to analyse the sentiment
  7. Mentionlytics – this allows you to monitor what people are saying about your brand on the internet and includes a built-in sentiment analysis feature that operates in multiple languages
  8. Brandwatch Customer Intelligence – you may well have heard of this social listening tool already as it’s been around since 2007. The platform offers multiple subscription levels, including one that contains ‘the world’s largest archive of customer opinion.’ 
  9. Brand 24 – used by Uber, this platform is also suitable for small brands and offers real-time social media listening with built-in AI driven sentiment analysis

Purpose of social media sentiment analysis 

Social media sentiment analysis gives brands information that they can utilise to their advantage. It enables you to:

    1. See exactly what your audience thinks of your brand, not just at any one particular moment, but on a month-by-month basis
    2. Monitor the social sentiment of your competitors
    3. Understand your audience by revealing the bigger picture, which can inform you when it comes to supplying products and/or services, and crafting your digital marketing campaign
    4. Engage with your customers in an instant and respond to any negative comments before they get a chance to blow up and become viral. If you deal with a complaint swiftly, generously, and with humility, it’ll show people that you’re a brand who’s listening to customers and can be trusted to do the right thing
    5. Adjust your brand messaging and inform your marketing. Hootsuite gives the example of Zoom, the online video conferencing platform, which used social media sentiment analysis to unearth the biggest negative myths about their product. They used this information to craft a series of TikTok videos to bust those myths, which boosted customer confidence. They also devised some pro-tips videos to answer users’ most commonly asked questions
    6. Refine your products and services. If a particular product or service keeps getting slated, you can change it, amend the description to better reflect the product/service, or even drop it altogether
    7. Play to your strengths – if a product or service is garnering a lot of praise, you know you’re on the right track
    8. Gain a fuller picture of campaigns. Social media sentiment analysis is much more effective than simply counting mentions. Hootsuite gives the example of a spike in BMW mentions. A tweet about their monthly subscription service got 30,000 retweets; however, the engagement wasn’t positive and reflected negative public sentiment

How to carry out a social media sentiment analysis 

If you’re not ready to invest in stand-alone social media sentiment analysis tools, it’s possible to do the job manually or with the help of tech that you’re already using.

Hootsuite suggests the following three steps when it comes to social media sentiment analysis:

  1. Monitor your mentions – make sure to monitor all mentions of your brand across social media and remember that people won’t always tag your brand when they talk about it. If you use Hootsuite, you can set it up to monitor social channels for all mentions of your brand. The dashboard allows you to add a stream for each of your social accounts. Don’t forget to scan emojis too as these are a great way to determine audience sentiment
  2. Analyse the sentiment of your social media mentions by searching for the terms that suggest sentiment, such as love, hate, avoid, best, etc. Choose the kinds of negative and positive words people may use to talk about your brand
  3. Calculate your sentiment score. You can do this by either working out the positive mentions as a percentage of all mentions or go a step further and work out the ratio of positive mentions to negative ones. 

You may want to drill down further by including specific product or service names in your search, to check which ones your target customers are most and least keen on and why.

How to improve social media sentiment 

The only way to improve your social media sentiment, i.e. the way your brand is perceived, is to respond to the findings and use them to generate a more positive response. Hootsuite suggests the following:

  1. Understand your audience because this will enable you to craft content that appeals to them
  2. Engage by actively responding to any comments, positive or negative, and resolve any problems as swiftly as you can
  3. Know where your strengths lie. If social media sentiment shows that an aspect of your brand is really working well, maximise that, and add value. Meanwhile, make sure you attend to anything that isn’t working and tweak it so that it better suits the sentiment of your target audience

Boost your social media strategy

You can use the information gathered from social media sentiment analysis to improve your marketing strategy. Get started with Vamp to amplify your content and make your business famous for all the right reasons.

Next up: Marketing on Instagram

If Instagram is your platform of choice, you’ll want to check out the following guides: 


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