The ‘new normal’ we are getting accustomed to since the global pandemic has brought a new set of challenges for brands. People are leaning on online platforms for their facts. Whether its Covid-19, politics, fashion or entertainment – the amount of information available to meet these demands has grown exponentially.
The amount of information available online is vast. Humans are struggling to keep up and risks, as well as opportunities, are easily missed. Brands are working overtime to make sense of the opinions being shared on a multitude of platforms and are realising manual analysis is no longer a sustainable media monitoring method.
In the age of ‘cancel culture’ and boycotts from a passionate and confident generation, missing one negative opinion could lead to thousands. In 2021, 80% of people would boycott a brand based on widespread, negative information they see online, regardless of the facts. Reputations are on the line, and brands are under more scrutiny than ever. A strategic change is imperative to protect brands from the virality of misleading information.
It is time for businesses to take control over their narratives.
Brands represent people
Being active online has become part and parcel of everyday life for most people. According to a 2020 study, global online content consumption doubled that year, a surge attributable to lockdowns. Not only that, but reliance on platforms as information sources has grown with Data Reportal revealing 7 in 10 internet users go beyond search engines to find information.
More and more people trust brands to represent, inform and inspire them, in addition to consuming their products and services. Marketers are working overtime to monitor conversations and trends in their infancy to predict how they will grow over time, before turning into potential threats or opportunities which may not be related directly to their business, but the impact their business may have on society.
The volume and pace of misinformation have grown exponentially. From climate change, racism, immigration to the pandemic, harmful content has become more prominent, aggressive, and difficult to control. It’s become essential for marketers to be able to monitor more than sentiment across these issues, they need to monitor real intent, to get ahead of the growth curve.
Context is king
Brands have had to drastically improve their social listening to keep up with what is shaping public opinion and how. Analysing sentiment to determine feelings towards a brand or topic is no longer as effective as it once was, nor sustainable. Context has always been important, but now more than ever, it’s driving the way we measure opinions.
Consumer intelligence is evolving. Brands invest huge sums in media monitoring to improve how they understand their target audience and identify a crisis before it breaks but new models are emerging for marketers that are more advanced, more accurate and easier to use.
Stance analysis can account for the nuances in the language used, like geographic, political, and cultural influences. Stance using artificial intelligence can make sense of content in context, so brands can identify and predict real human intent. This is something that’s not possible with just sentiment analysis alone, which simply measures the use of positive, negative or neutral words.
There are many ways to express the same idea. People might be saying the same thing in different ways, using figurative language. Brands can harness the capabilities of stance analysis models to account for these changes where sentiment models would result in undefined or false conclusions.
The pandemic presented businesses with a need to evolve digitally and quickly. It has demonstrated gaping holes in approaches to monitoring and staying ahead of narratives online.
The rapid growth of social media and online platforms highlights the necessity for brands to diversify their media monitoring. Brands are under the microscope, on a global online stage, and social media platforms are fueling the spread of harmful content driven by narratives that can damage reputations permanently.
Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to measure stance offers a promising solution to brands where sentiment analysis falls short. Monitoring intent beyond the words provides the essential context needed to predict and forecast stories before they break.
Stance can help brands make sense of mass mentions and mitigate the risk of falling behind. Stance analysis will be the differentiator between those who are reactive and those who are proactive. Brands need to be thinking strategically about narrative and media intelligence, and stance analysis is undoubtedly the first step forward.