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26 September 2023  •  Gerardine Ryan, Senior Communications Strategist

Managing online sentiment and safe-guarding your brand’s reputation on social media

Managing online sentiment

In today's digital landscape, social media is a powerful but double-edged sword. This thought-provoking piece highlights the vital importance of managing online sentiment for safeguarding your brand's reputation online.

In today's digital age, social media has seamlessly integrated itself into our daily lives, both personally and professionally. It stands as a potent tool for connecting with audiences, shaping brand identities, and fostering stakeholder and customer relationships. Nevertheless, like any digital tool, it carries its own set of challenges and risks. If not managed correctly, these challenges can escalate quickly, wreaking havoc on a brand's hard-earned reputation. 

Let’s step back in time and reflect on the tumultuous year of 2009, a pivotal moment for the world of social media and brand reputation - the Domino's Pizza social media crisis. 

In April 2009, two Domino's Pizza employees (in the US) unwittingly triggered a catastrophic chain of events by uploading a disturbing video on YouTube. This video depicted unsanitary acts with the food they were preparing, and it spread like wildfire across social media platforms. The video was so popular, it ended up in top search rankings for Google.  

In a matter of hours, Domino's Pizza found itself at the epicentre of a public relations disaster. Thousands of horrified viewers had witnessed the video, and the backlash was immediate and intense. The incident posed a severe threat to the brand's reputation, highlighting how quickly a crisis can erupt in the age of social media. 

Understanding Online Sentiment 

Online sentiment mirrors the collective feelings and opinions of internet users. It wields the power to significantly impact your brand, product, or service. Proficiently monitoring online sentiment in real-time can provide invaluable insights into your audience, elevate your communication strategies, and empower you to respond effectively to feedback or a crisis. Using monitoring tools like Meltwater, Sprout, and Spinklr can provide quantifiable insights into how positively (or negatively) your brand is perceived. 

However, real-time sentiment monitoring isn't just about mitigating risk stemming from media coverage, campaigns and other events. It also involves being attuned to both the positive and negative sides of sentiment, and when used correctly, can give you the upper hand in numerous ways.  

The Upside of Online Sentiment: Why It Matters 

If you harness the power of online sentiment, you can: 

  • Make informed decisions: Online sentiment can help you understand what's important to your audience. This knowledge can influence your business decisions, such as what topics to promote, what to prioritise and what projects to work on.  
  • Tailor your content: You can use sentiment data to adjust your content, showcasing to your audience that you not only hear their collective voice but also possess the agility to pivot and customise your content to address their primary concerns, whether it's ESG, cost of living, or emerging topics. 

While navigating online sentiment may not always be straightforward, here are some handy tips to help you maximise its potential: 

  1. Engage with your Customer Service Team: Address any underlying company issues that may be contributing to negative sentiment. By resolving problems at their root, you can reduce the volume of negative sentiment. 
  2. Filter out profanity: Perform a health check on your profanity filters to eliminate negative keywords - this will also help to ensure minimal harm to your online community. 
  3. Set up alerts and keyword searches: Be proactive in monitoring sentiment. Set up alerts and keyword searches to detect sudden spikes in negative sentiment, allowing you to mitigate potential issues swiftly. 
  4. Leverage Social Media Listening: Seek topics relevant to your business or projects and monitor them diligently, staying ahead of potential issues. 
  5. Monitor your Brand Mentions: Keep track of mentions of your social media handles or brand online to identify reputational issues before they escalate. 

Online sentiment acts as a window into how consumers and stakeholders perceive your brand. When used correctly, it can unveil valuable insights that help you make data-driven decisions, create more content that connects with your audience, enhance operational efficiencies and improve your overall brand reputation. There is no doubt that navigating online sentiment can be challenging, but once you understand how to leverage it to your advantage, the possibilities can be endless. 

If you would like to understand more about navigating online sentiment and social media listening, reach out to Senior Strategist Gerardine Ryan at Bastion Reputation for a confidential discussion. 

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