Thursday, October 27th, 2016 | 8 min read
Thanks to the explosion of gif, meme and emoji usage, online communication has become less of a text-based conversation forum and more of a platform for users to express all the feels in a visual way. We have entered the era of heart-eye emojis, thumbs-ups and LOLs.
Emojis have become as common as text in messaging and social media. Across demographics, 92% of users use emojis to communicate online, from Instagram captions to tweets and status updates. In 2015 alone, emoji usage on social and messaging platforms tripled.
Not surprisingly, brands have noticed. This year there has been 777% growth rate in emoji usage in marketing campaigns (no, that’s not an extra “7”––it really did grow nearly 800%). With brands and customers communicating in a similar, visual-based way, the February 2016 launch of Facebook Reactions was a no brainer.
Facebook users have now spent half a year communicating with six visual reactions: Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry. Not only does this eliminate the ambiguity of being forced to only ‘Like’ a post in solidarity, it also gives users a broader range of ways to express themselves and offer feedback to friends and brands.
For marketers, measuring Reactions can offer a more sophisticated understanding of customer feedback and sentiment toward their content and their brand, which can and should lead to more relevant, impactful content.
Not sure how to bolster your social media reporting using Facebook Reactions? Follow our tips below:
Sentiment analysis has long been the go-to method for brands to gauge the attitudes, opinions, and feelings behind a comment or post left online, and it’s a fundamental part of most social media monitoring tools.
But text analytics fall short when it comes to detecting subtle emotions like sarcasm, as natural language processing technology is notorious for having a poor sense of humor.
Comparing Facebook Reactions alongside text analytics gives brands the opportunity to gain a more complete, nuanced understanding of how their customers feel.
For example, if your Facebook Reactions are primarily negative but you have a positive text score, you might assume that there’s a dose of sarcasm in your community’s chatter. Or, you may come across text responses that are too short or ambiguous from which to infer meaningful feedback. Additional Wow and Love Reactions, in this case, may add some color to your insight and highlight particularly resonant and well-received content.
Reactions allow you to contextualize your text feedback, and add clarity and direction to sentiment analysis in a world of shorthand, slang and inside jokes between friends. Adding six Reactions to an already long list of text comments may seem like it would make communicating more complex sentiment reporting a more onerous task.
However, blending like emotions (such as putting Wow, Love and Haha Reactions into a single positive bucket) or breaking them out into a 3-point or 5-point scale to visually match charts tracking text- or image-based sentiment can make it easy to manage. The payoff—a uniform but multidimensional look at your audience’s sentiment—makes it easier to quickly monitor the pulse of sentiment however it’s communicated.
Beyond basic monitoring, social data should answer specific business questions and align with your brand’s unique KPIs. To help automate the process of complex calculations, create custom metrics that focus data on your needs and make it easier to translate data into impactful stories for key stakeholders across the organization.
For example, and similar to summing up similar Reactions types into a single category, you can combine like emotions from Facebook Reactions and text analysis into one category.
If your objective is to measure overall positive engagement, create one composite category that lumps together Like, Love and Wow Reactions, any positive text mentions, or image-based sentiment (if you’re leveraging it… which you are, right?), assigning more weight to positive text mentions, since they could indicate stronger reactions from your audience. (Or at least, it takes longer to leave a comment, possibly indicating that commenters are more actively engaged with your content.)
Meanwhile, Sad and Angry reactions, as well as negative text mentions, can be grouped into another “Negative Engagement” metric. Powered by your uniquely tweaked custom equations, you’ll know at a glance whether your campaigns are meeting key goals.
Knowing whether you’re meeting customers’ expectations and keeping up with the competition is crucial to executing strategies that continually outdo previous efforts. According to Sneha Jain, McDonald’s global Social Data Intelligence Manager, McDonald’s was kept “inspired and sharp” by benchmarking their social engagement metrics, aiming to “learn and grow and be the industry expert, rather than to live in a silo…” Benchmarking boosts your competitive intelligence and breaks down these silos, allowing a more accurate competitive standing to inform future strategies.
We all know that gauging how your brand stacks up against the competition on social is critical for maintaining a competitive edge. Your social analytics for a campaign may indicate a personal best, but without a sense of where that falls among industry standards or competitors’ successes, it may be hasty to deem it a win.
Studying your data relative to that of others can make your social strategy that much stronger: you can uncover methods that are working for leading brands and adopt them into your own efforts, or proceed with caution on approaches that have flopped.
When you benchmark your Reactions data against other internal brand teams—global regions, different product pages, and so on—or against competitors and best in class brands, you gain a more accurate depiction of activity around your content compared to others.
Is another brand’s campaign going viral? Did UGC make or break your competitor’s last campaign? These questions, among others, can be addressed with greater clarity by using benchmarking to analyze your social data. Reactions are simply adding another level of transparency to your customers’ feedback.
In addition to text comments alone, seeing a high percentage of positive Reactions on a competitor’s page, for example, compared to noticeably fewer on its own pages, may indicate a good-but-not-great attempt at driving positive engagement and inspire the brand to work harder at impressing its customer base.
With sentiment analysis—and now Facebook Reactions—you can better understand what your customers are saying and gain a stronger grasp on what they’re interested in (and not interested in). The tools provide an opportunity to improve your business efforts, quickly spot and address unspoken issues before they get big, and secure a competitive advantage.
Emojis and other forms of non-verbal online communication are commonplace, becoming central to the way customers share and interact with brands. To avoid falling behind and missing key insights later, keeping up with the pace at which your customers’ chatter is changing needs to be a priority.
Take hold of the opportunity in Reactions now. Tease out the strongest assessment of sentiment from the influx of customer feedback, and let an in-depth understanding of your audience drive more informed and customer-focused business efforts.