September 27, 2022

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Let’s get emotional: Expanded social technology using feelings to gain insights

Let’s get emotional: Expanded social technology using feelings to gain insights

When I use social media, I don’t necessarily consider it an emotional activity (unless I stumble across a video about unlikely pairings of animals befriending each other.) In reality, though, social media mimics in-person interactions and exhibits emotional reactions to the content with which users engage.

“The Emotional Science of Social Conversation,” a recent webinar presented by Crimson Hexagon and Spredfast, detailed the specific ways emotions shape social media, as well as how technology can identify these feelings and provide useful insights to organizations.

Errol Apostolopoulos, Senior VP of Product at Crimson Hexagon, and Chris Kerns, VP of Research and Insight at Spredfast, discussed how image recognition technology and Facebook reactions allow closer monitoring of human emotions.

This technology’s identification of human emotions provides useful data that helps handle crises and contextualize brand reputation.

Image monitoring

In today’s digital environment, monitoring software is necessary to catch digital and social mentions of your brand. Monitoring conversations containing brand mentions allows communicators to understand if their audience is having positive, negative, or neutral reactions to company activities and products.

Previously, organizations could miss these important mentions if they appeared in photos because the monitoring technology was unable to identify photos of logos and brand names. Organizations were missing vital opportunities to gain insights about customer perception.

With new technology, however, communicators are gathering a broader range of references, thereby giving them stronger understandings of their audience’s opinion of their brand.

In the webinar, Apostolopoulos used the example of Samsung’s recent crisis involving their combusting phones. In some photos of the singed phones, the battery was visible, which exposed the logo of Toshiba, the maker of the batteries.

The text accompanying these photos likely did not contain favorable feelings towards the brands associated with the phone. If these mentions were not caught by Toshiba, the company could struggle to understand negative reactions from consumers and fail to effectively approach a crisis.

With image identification, however, brands like Toshiba have the ability to track mentions, as well as their underlying emotions, which allows companies to better manage emerging crises.

Facebook reactions

In February 2016, Facebook announced that their new range of post reactions were available globally. Rather than simply liking, which was the only response available previously, users now can select from love, wow, haha, sad, and angry, in addition to the traditional like. These new features provide important insight regarding users’ feelings on social media.

Kerns presented research on these reactions, using specific examples of recent posts, during the webinar. First, he showed a copy of a Facebook post from Disney announcing a new trailer for the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel. Kerns broke down the type of reactions Disney’s account manager would likely want to see from users, specifically like, love, haha, and wow. Since this was an upbeat video, Kern theorized that Disney wouldn’t want to see users respond with sadness or anger.

Next, Kerns showed a Tesla post from a campaign they produced about climate change. Their company’s core mission involves promoting sustainability via their electric cars, so these posts shared alarming facts about the environment to illustrate the need for eco-friendly cars. According to Kerns, managers for the Tesla account would likely want to see like, love, wow, sad, and angry, but not haha, as the message was not humorous.

These two posts illustrate the different interpretations of emotional reactions to social content. Although communicators cannot apply a one-size-fits-all approach to measure these reactions, the features do provide useful insights for brands looking to gather data on audience opinion of their brand and its products and/or ideas. Tracking responses to posts on a consistent basis allows companies to analyze overarching themes of audience perception.

As social media technology, such as image identification and reaction buttons, expands, communicators will have enhanced opportunities to determine user’s emotions. These emotions provide valuable insights that will influence important decisions, such as brand’s management of crises and understanding of their reputation.

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About The Author'

Jordan Gosselin recently began her career in marketing and communication with CARMA. Her experience includes social and digital work, creative content production, and marketing operations.

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