What is online sentiment and how is it measured?

5 minute read

What is online sentiment and how is it measured?

Online sentiment is the emotion that people feel when engaging with your brand, product, or service. Whether a customer is making a purchase from your online store, writing a review about your business, or mentioning you in a social post, it is always somehow driven by emotion. 

Measuring online sentiment is a way to tap into those emotions by tracking the tone, context, and feelings behind the words your customers type into their keyboards. the act of measuring sentiment is called sentiment analysis. It is a way to more accurately understand how people really feel about your brand. Are they happy that it exceeds their expectations? Are they upset or disappointed in your product? Or are they somewhere on the fence? 

  • Most online posts are emotionally charged – online sentiment provides a way to measure that.
  • Online sentiment can affect whether or not people will purchase your products, and can even predict market changes and economic downturns.
  • Tracking online sentiment allows business owners to uncover what people like and don’t like about their products. It’s a valuable tool to measure and act on customer satisfaction. 

The importance of online sentiment

Measuring online sentiment unlocks key customer satisfaction information that can help you make more informed business choices in the future. Improving sentiment is one of the key objectives of reputation marketing. By understanding how customers feel about your brand, you can determine which business areas need improvement, as well as how to hone in on the things your brand is doing right. You’ll be able to create products, marketing materials, and social media posts that your customers and prospective customers will be more receptive to. 

Here are a few more reasons why it is important to measure online sentiment.

  • Better gauge customer satisfaction: Knowing how satisfied customers are with your product enables you to make adjustments as needed to create products they will be sure to love.
  • Improve customer loyalty: Tracking online sentiment can reveal who your most loyal customers are, and what types of engagements make them the most pleased. This can even allow you to create tailored loyalty programs that offer discounts or promotions targeted for a specific emotional impact. 
  • Predict the likelihood of continued engagement: If your customers are happy with your brand, they will be more likely to continue purchasing from you and sharing their experiences online. If they’re not, you will be able to engage with them in an effort to change their minds. 
  • Predict recessions: Up until this point, we’ve mainly covered what online sentiment means for your brand. But sentiment data extends beyond individual brand health to the larger economy. A study by Cornell University recently found that sentiment indicators can be used to forecast future recessions because it provides a direct measure of the polarity of the information consumers and producers are exposed to.

How to measure online sentiment 

The more you know about your customers, the easier it will be to create engaging experiences, market efficiently, and create a product they'll want to talk about. Their emotional state when interacting with your brand is key here. Measuring and tracking online sentiment will help you better understand your customers and their buying behavior. 

Here’s how to measure online sentiment: 

  • Review monitoring: Reviews can be very polarizing since most people only leave an online review if they either love or hate something. For this reason, it is usually pretty easy to determine the sentiment behind reviews. By carefully monitoring reviews, you can determine if the overall sentiment around your brand is positive, negative, or neutral. Remember to respond to both positive and negative reviews to show that you are engaged with your customers. 
  • Social media monitoring: Posting on social media is so quick and easy, that people often post in the heat of emotion without thinking too much about it. This is why it’s important to monitor the sentiment behind social media posts to respond quickly to what your customers are saying. Since social media is such a collaborative platform, there are plenty of sentiment metrics to track, including: comment tone or emotion, frequency of comments, number of likes, and number of shares and mentions.  
  • Direct customer feedback: It is also important to measure the sentiment of direct customer feedback. There are two main sources of feedback, either a customer will reach out to you through support emails or chat functionality, or you can ask them for feedback through in-app ratings prompts or text or email campaigns. You can assign tags to these conversations to score each one on its sentiment. 
  • Calculate your Net Promoter Score: Your net promoter score measures customer experience by asking your customers the question: How likely is it that you would recommend [your brand] to a friend or colleague? They’ll respond with a number between 1-10, with 1-6 meaning they are unhappy with your brand, 7-8 meaning they are neutral, and 9-10 meaning they are enthusiastic and likely to promote your brand.
    Your NPS is determined by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. If your NPS is high, you likely have a positive online sentiment and customers who are willing to actively promote your brand.
    Net Promoter Score

Tools for sentiment analysis

Here is a not-exhaustive list of sentiment analysis tools. 

Once you have begun to monitor and track online sentiment, it’s time to act on the information you’ve acquired. These customer insights are only as valuable as you make them. Measuring online sentiment provides key insights into the tone, context, and feelings behind customer engagement. Listen to what your customers are saying about your brand, and you can better serve them, which will improve your online reputation as well. 

More resources about sentiment