How measuring emotions gives brands more actionable insight than measuring sentiment

Sentiment analysis has been the go-to social listening metric to determine how consumers feel about a brand (with good reason). It’s an easily-understood number that gives managers a quick snapshot of the state of their brand.  It’s not nuanced, however, and doesn’t give marketers a clear next step or actionable insight. Here, the ability to measure beyond positive/negative into the nuances of hate, love, desire, fear, and more takes brands’ understanding of not only how consumers feel about them, but what to do next.

Essentially, sentiment is black-and-white, but Networked Insights’ unique classification system allows us to measure each post, tweet and comment against a full range of emotional classifiers (46 to be exact). This allows marketers to see the full spectrum of consumers’ emotional responses to their brands.

Basically, net sentiment is useful, but does not give a full picture. Take the following sentiment analysis for four popular wireless brands as an example:

emotion sentiment 2

Based on net sentiment alone (positive mentions minus negative), T-Mobile appears to be the most-liked brand. Yet sentiment only accounts for part of the picture. T-Mobile has the highest sentiment overall, but by diving deeper into emotions, we also see that some of the emotions most uniquely associated with the brand are negative, such as hatred, anger and disgust.

tmobile top emotions tmobile sidebar


verizon net

Meanwhile, Verizon shows lower net sentiment but it actually measures more consistently positive emotions than T-Mobile.

Brands should embrace emotions as a standard metric because they capture actionable meaning that is more nuanced than what sentiment can reveal. Tracking sentiment is like seeing a pile of puzzle pieces rather than a completed puzzle.

Tracking emotion over time can also help brands identify the impetus behind changes in emotion as well as severity. Take Target, for example. We looked at retailers over a one month period and found that brands such as Amazon and Target are some of the most loved.  But curiously, Target also ranked highly for “hate” during that same period.

love hate

How can consumers both love and hate Target at the same time? Diving deeper, we see that the “hatred” is tied to concentrated consumer outcry around a single incident.

Armed with the ability to judge the issue and the brand is empowered to act appropriately. In this example, Target’s “hatred” scores decreased again over a two week period, indicating that the event was just a PR hiccup.

Overall, brands that get in touch with consumers’ emotions beyond net sentiment can not only track positive and negative emotions over time to detect successes and problems, but also look for changes in emotions across target audiences and discover which content resonates with key audiences.

target tweet

For more on the advantages of tracking emotions, check out our full report.