When it comes to measuring brand reputation in social media that’s traditionally been an exercise in futility. Attempts have often focused on measuring conversation on social and applying sentiment analysis but there are some inherent flaws with that approach.
For example, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center, 10% of all of the adults Twitter users are creating 80% of the Tweets in the United States. People posting on social media are too self selecting for that to be a representative sample size.
Among other possible social media sentiment measurement ideas, vanity metrics like fan count have been devalued by people buying fake followers and likewise it isn’t always clear what volume metrics really represent. For instance, it’s almost impossible to tell from just looking YouTube views if a clip went viral or if those numbers were boosted through paid amplification.
With that in mind, ListenFirst was determined to uncover a system that allows marketers and researchers to connect social to business metrics, specifically around Brand Reputation. We wanted to authentically understand customer attitudes towards a brand using social data and after an extensive amount of research we found the key breakthrough by focusing on social clicks.
Introducing The ListenFirst Brand Reputation Index™
What is it that makes clicks such a more effective indicator of sentiment than say likes, follows, or comments? There’s a huge difference between what people are interested in online and what people publicly want to share that they’re interested in. For instance, I’m sure you can think of an instance where you Liked a photo album on Facebook you didn’t actually look through. And many other topics you’ll devour multiple articles on a subject you’d never post publicly about. What people are actually clicking on is a much more authentic indicator of interest.
Which brings us to the Brand Reputation Index. Using Satmetrix’s Net Promoter Score® as inspiration, we sought to create the equivalent of a social NPS®, which takes into account the broad world of social signals gathered in real-time every day. It’s like having an NPS in real-time with a very large sample size through social.
How It Works
The Brand Reputation Index’s methodology in using clicked-based social activity to measure audience sentiment includes two major components, Brand Power Score and Sentiment Adjustment.
Brand Power Score:
Brand Power Score is the key to distinguish a brand’s influence, which takes into consideration the size of a brand’s fan base and fan growth rate.
Our first step was to apply a range to total fans in a cohort to normalize the fan size per brand per social platform. Normalizing by fan size was important as brands with large fan sizes can skew the Index. After getting normalized total fans for each platform, we transformed it into a centesimal score using a sigmoid function (ranging from 50 to 100).
Sentiment Adjustment Calculation
The Sentiment Adjustment further fine tunes the Brand Power Score by leveraging daily sentiment changes. We took negative click-based activity on a brand’s content and divided it by all click-based activity on a brand’s content per social platform.
For example, for Facebook, we divided the volume of “sad” and “angry” reactions from all the responses a brand received on its content– likes, comments, shares, reactions—during a given time frame. We applied the same methodology for YouTube. For Instagram and Twitter, we divided the volume of comments from all actions (comments and likes). Our analysis has shown that when there is spike in Facebook and YouTube negative reactions on a brand’s posts, there is also a spike in comments on a brand’s posts on Instagram and Twitter.
We then applied a moving average over a four-day period to the sentiment adjustment.
Brand Reputation Index Calculation:
Finally, a brand’s ultimate Brand Reputation Index number is determined by subtracting Sentiment Adjustment from the Brand Power Score.
How The Brand Reputation Index Can Help
From real world examples, here are just three types of PR situations where using the Brand Reputation Index can help brands better understand and more strategically react to social media sentiment they’re generating.
Situation #1: Finding If Going Viral Actually Improved Brand Sentiment
In January 2018, Gillette released their #TheBestMenCanBe Campaign online which addressed the issue of toxic masculinity and challenged men to do more about the issue. There’s no question the campaign got attention, for instance over 30.8 million people viewed it on YouTube alone, but did the campaign actually help boost Gillette’s reputation?
Using the Brand Reputation Index, we can see that Gillette’s brand reputation actually dropped -1% on the day #TheBestMenCanBe Campaign launched and it took a full 52 days to return to pre-campaign levels. What went wrong? While some people on social applauded the ad’s message others took it more defensively, including this post from talk show host Joe Pagliarulo, which became the most Retweeted around the hashtag, “Hey @Gillette, I have an idea, stay out of politics. Real men already stop other guys from acting badly. A razor company should want me to shave with your product. And, btw, I’m extremely masculine. And there’s nothing wrong with that. #TheBestMenCanBe” .
A backlash to the campaign mobilized and competitor Dollar Shave Club saw their Brand Reputation Index score increase by +7% the day that #TheBestMenCanBe launched compared to the previous day, as Dollar Shave Club was pitched an alternative by those threatening to stop using Gillette.
Situation #2: Determining If A Controversial Topic Is Helping Or Hurting Your Brand
While Gillette’s Brand Reputation took a hit that doesn’t inherently mean tackling a divisive social issue will have a negative impact on a brand. For example in September 2018 Nike launched a “Just Do It” campaign around former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick with the caption “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Considering how polarizing the issue of kneeling during the national anthem became, there was real risk that the campaign would damage sentiment around Nike, and in fact of the day after the official campaign video was released, Nike’s Brand Reputation Index score dropped -1%. However sentiment around the brand rebounded quickly and 2 months later the Nike Brand Reputation Index score was still higher than pre-campaign levels.
The Kaepernick campaign succeeded where the #TheBestMenCanBe campaign stalled from a sentiment POV, because Nike focused on the positive of Kaepernick standing behind for his beliefs as opposed to the specifics of his protest, while Gillette took a more negative stance, pointing out bad behavior. The takeaway being that brands that want to make a statement around a social issue, should present that campaign in as positive a framing as possible.
Situation #3: Figuring Out How Much Intervention Is Needed Around A Brand Crisis
The Brand Reputation Index can also be used around crisis management. For instance, airlines occasionally have have PR flair ups, especially around the common practice of overbooking flights, in anticipation of hypothetical no shows. You can see in the chart above Delta Airlines, American Airlines, and Jet Blue see short term dips around their Brand Reputation Index score for a few days after an incident occurs before reverting back to their pre-PR crisis levels. However that wasn’t the case with United Airlines, which two months later had a lower Reputation scorer that appears to be the new normal.
What happened was in April 2017, United Airlines couldn’t get someone to volunteer to leave an overbooked flight, so they picked someone to leave and he refused. He was then forcibly and violently dragged off the plane which went viral after it was video taped, made even more complicated by accusations that racial profiling involved. While in most instances, these PR crises blow over in a few days after the initial apology; by using the ListenFirst’s Brand Reputation Index brands in a United Airlines like situation will be able to identify faster when additional outreach is needed.
It’s always been tough differentiating between what’s just noise and what’s actually cause for concern around brand sentiment on social media, but through ListenFirst’s click-based approach there’s finally a solution that delivers answers with objectivity and transparency. Gillette, Nike, and American Airlines are just three use case examples of how brands through the Brand Reputation Index can get the actionable insights needed to better understand and react to their audience on social media.
Want information about how ListenFirst can help your specific situation around Brand Reputation on social? We’d love to show you – request a demo here.