Guest Post: The Importance of Social Sentiment

Today we’re proud to feature guest blogger Courtney Kettmann, Community Manager at Viralheat. In this post, Courtney dispenses knowledge on social sentiment and why it matters to businesses.

There’s no denying that social media has made an impact on businesses everywhere. The affordability and ease of use has given companies with limited marketing budgets a chance to market themselves like never before. It is said that 86% of companies worldwide have a presence on Facebook or Twitter. And while there are many obvious benefits for businesses to embrace social media such as promotions, finding brand ambassadors, and sharing interesting content, there is one very important aspect to social media that is too often overlooked – social media sentiment.

Social media sentiment is the feeling or tone of voice behind an individual’s or community’s comments or interaction on your social media accounts. But this meaning goes much deeper than the positive, negative, neutral classification that is usually based on word indicators. Never before have marketers had a free and easy way to find out exactly how their customer base feels about various company decisions. This immediate and genuine insight into how their customers feel and react, allows marketers to be more agile and adjust quickly to changes in sentiment. Before social media was considered mainstream, marketers would host surveys and focus groups in order to get the details now available to them on various social media platforms. But even today with so much social sentiment data available many struggle to use this information to their benefit.

Since the nature of social media is to share, much of what is shared expresses some sort of feeling. People’s opinions, complaints, praise, and general rants are all data available on the web and when used properly can help businesses succeed. But the data available can be overwhelming with an estimated 100,000 tweets and 684,478 pieces of content shared on Facebook each minute, it’s no wonder people have a hard time marking sense of it. Understanding the pulse of the conversation can help companies avoid PR disasters and even have a sense of how a product release might fare. The key to identifying shifts in sentiment is by actively tracking this as part of your social media efforts.

To get the best understanding of social sentiment it is wise to monitor this metric like you would any other marketing related metric. Check regularly to see how your social sentiment is tracking overtime and around certain events. By paying special attention to sentiment around the time of product releases, busy seasons, expected or unexpected press, product discontinuations, and more you’ll be able to compare the data from these events with your baseline data. This comparison will identify dips or surges in sentiment and have you prepared to react – whether that feeling be temporary or permanent, being aware of your social sentiment is important.

One brand that has recently used social media sentiment to listen and learn from their customers’ experiences is J.C. Penny. The brand has been under fire for the last year for some changes made at the corporate level that affected end users. Hoards of customers took to social media to express their disapproval. Yet rather than ignoring the negative sentiment the brand decided to use social media as a way to connect with their customers and understand why the changes didn’t work. In their recent “apology tour” as some journalists have dubbed it, J.C. Penney asked for feedback, took polls, and acted on this information to get themselves in better standing with their customers.

The immediate changes would not have been remedied as quickly has they not been paying close attention to their social media sentiment. When planning your social media strategy, make sure to include social media sentiment as a metric to track. If you are having trouble capturing your sentiment, use a tool like Viralheat to help you understand and quantify this critical data.

About the author: Courtney Kettmann is the Community Manager at Viralheat, a social media intelligence company. As an early adapter to social media, Courtney has always been interested in the way people interact with one another through technology. During the work week you’ll find her managing Viralheat’s blogger network, writing blog posts and contributed articles, and interacting with Viralheat’s community through social. You can reach online @courtkettor by email at

By Emma Tzeng