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Monitoring the Impact of COVID-19 on Brand Sentiment (and Why You Should)



The COVID-19 pandemic has had major impacts on virtually everything that we do. We’re working from our homes, alongside our kids in virtual school classes, while shopping malls are emptied out, and even going for a walk can feel somewhat unsafe.

Logically, COVID-19 has also impacted what people talk about, with pretty much every conversation you have these days now referring, in some way, to the situation. For marketing and communications pros, that’s also meant a re-think in focus. How do you continue maximizing brand exposure amid such an event? Should you even be looking to continue advertising during a pandemic?

The true answer is that there is no answer – no one knows, for sure, how to best respond because no one’s ever operated in such an environment before.

For some brands that have chosen to reach out with messages of empathy, those efforts will help them maintain connection with their audiences, yet for others, who maybe take a different path, either by choice or due to the impacts, their messaging could backfire, and cause significant reputational damage.

Which category will your business fall into – and has consumer sentiment about your business changed already?

That’s where monitoring brand sentiment comes in.

Here are some tips on how to get a pulse of audience response, and what you can then do to manage the situation.  

1. Listen to what the Internet says about your brand

First, in order to get a sense of audience sentiment, you need a social listening tool to monitor mentions of your brand across the web. I recommend Awario (disclosure: I am on the Awario team), Brandwatch, or Talkwalker for this purpose.

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These three tools are specifically beneficial in this respect because they each include a sentiment analysis element, which will break down your various brand mentions into ‘positive’, ‘negative’, and ‘neutral’ listings. 

It’s worth monitoring your sentiment charts for spikes, and to respond to each in kind. A spike in negative mentions signals could point to an upcoming reputation crisis, while a spike in neutral or positive mentions could mean that people are talking about your brand more than usual.

Keeping tabs, in either case, can help you to maximize any opportunities for improvement.

2. Monitor the impact of COVID-19 on your brand

Ideally, your social listening tool will pick up every topic and every conversation about your brand. But if you’re interested in digging a little deeper, and honing your efforts onto conversations that combine your brand and mentions of COVID-19 specifically (or, indeed, your brand and other specific issue), you’ll need to take your monitoring efforts to the next level.

For this, you’ll need a social listening tool that has a Boolean search capabilities. In short, Boolean search is a manual type of search query which enables you create more complicated parameters, including additional logic operators, such as AND, OR, which can facilitate more specific requirements.

Using these additional qualifiers, you can build search strings that sift the key mentions from the rest, automatically sorting through the broader stream to pick out the main points you need to know about.

This can help you improve your strategic approach to a situation like COVID-19, as it enables you to stay updated with the latest mentions of your business in relation to this specific scenario.

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3. Respond to negative mentions ASAP

Now that you have a listing of all your brand mentions in relation to the issue streaming in, and separated into positive and negative mentions, you can take the next steps, starting with the most important element: the negative mentions.

Negative mentions are the ones most likely to lead to adverse consequences for your company, but research shows that people are generally appreciative of quick, active responses, and getting onto these posts and comments fast enough can enable you to turn negative sentiment around, and avoid broader damage.

You should look to respond to complaints and negative comments as soon as you see them. This also shows that you care about the opinions and problems of your audience, which can help to establish further connection. 

4. Respond to influencers’ mentions

Ideally, you’ll be able to respond to all mentions, both positive and negative, in a timely manner, as required – but depending on how many mentions you see, and the time you have to commit to the task, that won’t always be possible.

If your capacity is limited, it’s worth taking note of the mentions from the most influential users, as their experiences can have a much bigger impact on your overall brand sentiment.

Again, this is not the ideal, and you don’t want to be in a position where you have to prioritize responses based on follower counts. But logically, when you’re managing your time, this is the place you should consider looking, particularly in the case of a negative mention that you want to dilute before it becomes problematic. 

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5. Check your media coverage

Knowing your reputation among your customers, target audience, and social media users is vital, however, when we’re talking about serious reputation failures (as well as serious reputation successes), mass media is where the big shifts will occur.

Social listening tools can monitor a broad range of online sources, in addition to social platforms, including personal blogs (which can be extremely popular) and major news sites.

If your business is getting mentioned in major publications, you need to know about it, and active social listening, combined with sentiment analysis, will help you stay on top of this big mentions – and early notifications in this respect could end up being invaluable, dependent on the situation.


The COVID-19 pandemic is unpredictable, and scary, for various reasons. Situations like this can leave people feeling out of control, fearing for everything at once, and assuming that you’re already taking care of your personal, physical health, it’s worth also paying attention to your brand’s health as well.

Being aware of how the situation can impact the perception of your brand will enable you to act wisely, and avoid common mistakes.

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Op-Ed: Education tipline launched by Virginia governor is a slap in the face to teachers



Op-Ed: Education tipline launched by Virginia governor is a slap in the face to teachers

The first order of business for newly sworn-in Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia was to rescind the mask mandate for public schools.
Source – Virginia Governor Glenn Younglin

A bland-looking email address launched by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin designed to allow parents to report incidents at Virginia schools where they feel their parental rights are being undermined has created quite a storm on social media.

Much like Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s making neighbors snitches if they think someone is having an abortion, Governor Youngkin is allowing people to go to a website he has created so they can snitch on a teacher, librarian, school board member, and I guess, even the custodian or your child’s bus driver.

The Governor’s Office launched [email protected] with the intent for parents to report violations of his first two Executive Orders, which allow parents to opt their students out of school masking requirements and bans the teaching of “inherently divisive topics” including critical race theory in schools.

It appears that Youngkin went on the John Fredericks Radio Show Monday,  and said during his interview that “… [It’s] for parents to send us any instances where they feel that their fundamental rights are being violated, where their children are not being respected, where there are inherently divisive practices in their schools.”

The backlash over the order and the tip-line began to build on social media, with celebrities like John Legend and comedian Patton Oswald sharing the address with their followers.

“Black parents need to flood these tip lines with complaints about our history being silenced,” Legend wrote on Twitter, referring to the critical race theory ban.

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7News spoke to Oveta Scott, a Prince William County middle school teacher who has spent more than a decade in the classroom.

We are human beings too. We are going through it too,” she said when asked about her reaction to the governor’s new email tip line. ‘Why are you vilifying us and attacking us? What are we doing? We’re trying to stay afloat. We have a shortage of substitutes. We have a shortage of bus drivers. Every day, I have to look for an email to see if I’m covering someone’s class. Every day.”

Nothing but a big distraction by an irresponsible public servant

State Senator Louise Lucas, a Democrat representing the 18th District in the southeast part of the state, said she does not expect the tip-line to lead to much of anything.

“Like a lot of other gimmicks that a lot of other governors have put forward, this one is going to fall flat like a led balloon,” she said, adding that most people she has spoken to see it as an “intimidation” tactic, reports

“I have never seen a Governor act in such an irresponsible way as to reach down to the parents and by step the teachers, by step the principal, the superintends of school, just to try to intimidate,” Lucas said. “There’s more than just one segment of parents in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Is he listening to Black parents, Hispanic parents, Asian-American parents? Which parents is he listening to? He needs to listen to all parents. Last I checked, parents in the Commonwealth of Virginia want their children to be safe in school.”

Senator Lucas is letting Governor Youngkin off easy. I personally think Youngkin is taking a page from Texas Governor Abbott’s playbook, because just last week, at the public charter school, Founders Classical Academy of Lewisville, Abbott told hundreds of parents “The essential role of parents is being threatened by government itself.”

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Abbott isn’t relying on a web address for snitches. He wants to change the Texas state constitution to make sure that “parents will be restored to their rightful place as the pre-eminent decision-makers for their children.”

The Governor also told the crowd he wants to toughen penalties against educators, including teachers and librarians who give students inappropriate books. “Texas will ensure that any education personnel who is convicted of providing minors with obscene content will lose their educational credentials and state licensing, forfeits their retirement benefits, and be placed on a do not hire list.”

It is time for all this craziness to come to an end. Good grief – I am getting too old to deal with all this “Bull S—” going on today.

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Instagram Adds Scheduled Live Display on User Profiles to Improve Discovery of Upcoming Streams



Instagram Adds Scheduled Live Display on User Profiles to Improve Discovery of Upcoming Streams

After previewing it as a coming feature within its announcement of the expansion of remixable videos on the platform last week, Instagram has now outlined its new display of scheduled live streams on creator profiles, providing another way to raise awareness of upcoming live broadcasts in the app.

As you can see in these screenshots, shared by Instagram chief Adam Mosseri, the new display option will enable you to list your upcoming IG live streams on your profile, which, when tapped, will provide additional info in a pop-up prompt, where people can also sign-up for a reminder of when the stream is set to begin.

As explained by Mosseri:

“Creators have been able to schedule lives for a while now, but now, you can separate scheduling a live from creating a feed post, or even now a Story post, about that Live. You also get a little badge on your profile that’s lets followers know, or anybody know that goes to your profile, that there’s a Live coming up and they can subscribe to be reminded.”

Mosseri further notes that users can create as many scheduled lives as they like, with a side-scrolling list then added to your profile display.

It could be a handy addition for those who broadcast via IG Live, which could prompt more people to tune in, by raising more awareness about your broadcasts. Up till now, the only way to notify people about your upcoming streams in the app has been, as Mosseri notes, through posts and Stories, which limits the reach of those notifications to, generally, your existing followers. Now, anyone who comes by your profile will be able to see that you have a live broadcast coming up, which could bring in more viewers.

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IG Live has become a key connection surface in the app, particularly throughout the pandemic, and as Instagram looks to expand the option into eCommerce, facilitating more direct engagement between brands and fans, the capacity to map out a more effective IG Live strategy could be a big help in maximizing your on-platform efforts.

It may seem like a relatively small addition in the broader scheme, but it could be a big help in raising awareness, and getting more viewers to your upcoming broadcasts.

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LinkedIn Publishes New Report into Workplace Culture Shifts, and What They Mean for Employer Branding



LinkedIn Publishes New Report into Workplace Culture Shifts, and What They Mean for Employer Branding

LinkedIn has published a new report into the latest shifts in company and work culture, largely as a result of the pandemic, with many people’s approach to their career and professional development changing amid the ongoing re-shaping of the workforce and place.

As outlined by LinkedIn:

Because of the pandemic, employees are rethinking their priorities and their relationships with employers. They’re seeking flexible work arrangements and more work-life balance. They want to work for employers who value their physical and emotional well-being. And they’re ready to walk away from those who don’t.

LinkedIn’s 67-page ‘Reinvention of Company Culture’ report provides a detailed analysis of these changing attitudes and approaches, and how businesses can look to cater to employee needs, in order to build a better work environment.

The report looks at how people’s approach to their work is changing, particularly in regards to who they work for, and what they both represent and provide.

As you can see in this graphic, company culture is becoming a much bigger consideration, which is arguably because we now have more insight than ever into what each company represents, via social media posts and profiles. That underlines the importance of brands managing their external perception, and building a strong employer brand, which could also include empowering their employees to share relevant updates, reinforcing culture and ethos.

The report also looks at the changing approach to workplace flexibility, which is fast becoming a must-have for many organizations.

LinkedIn workplace trends report

The pandemic has shown that many companies can, in fact, operate remotely, and many employees have found that the freedom that can bring affords them many lifestyle benefits, which they’re not so willing to give up by returning to the office full-time.

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Of course, that varies. Some people like the structure and organization of the office environment, along with the social benefits, and there are strong arguments to be made for both approaches. But the stats here, and included in the report, point to the potential value of incorporating more flexible working arrangements.

Employee well-being is another point of focus, with interest in the topic on the rise:

LinkedIn workplace trends report

Which is another valuable element to this report – in addition to the overall notes on workplace shifts, LinkedIn has also incorporated data on key platform posting trends, which could help to inform your own strategy.

LinkedIn workplace trends report

Clearly, there is significant, and rising interest in these elements, and it’s worth considering how you can integrate such, both in terms of how you evolve your own workplace models to cater to such demand, and how you represent the same in your external posts and updates.

There are some valuable notes here, and some interesting points to consider in the coming post-pandemic shift. Because we’re not there just yet, with newer COVID variants still parking new waves of concern, and subsequent mitigation efforts. But as we progress towards the next stage, it is worth noting the broader impacts that the COVID shift has had on work, and how prospective employees are now looking at job postings and companies in their job search efforts.

Your social media presence can play a big role in this, and your LinkedIn presence in particular, and it’s worth taking in the various trends and considering what they could mean for your brand.

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You can read LinkedIn’s full ‘Reinvention of Company Culture’ report here.

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