Context is king in social media research

It’s hard to miss all the advertising activity around the Super Bowl: the lead up, the event and the analysis and while it’s interesting to see which brands ‘won’, it’s just as interesting to consider why.

Mindi Chahal

Social media is increasingly used by researchers to gauge audience sentiment around brands, campaigns, services and products – but context is key, especially in understanding whether that sentiment is important. 

Research from digital agency Beyond looks at the impact of celebrity endorsements on the effectiveness of brand messages by analysing social media sentiment of some of the Super Bowl XLVIII ads.   

The agency looked at conversations around Scarlett Johansson, David Beckham, U2 and Arnold Schwarzenegger and the brands they are associated with.

Buzz around Scarlett Johansson and SodaStream seems like a winner at first glance, generating the largest volume of conversation, half of which occurred before the event, according to the analysis. 

However, the ad also drove the highest volume of negative posts.

David Beckham’s ad for his range of H&M underwear drove far more posts during the Super Bowl than other ads and scored the highest for the volume of positive posts.    

Interesting, but research must look back at the point of using social media and why it’s important for brands by analysing what matters – brand association. 

Beyond found that Scarlett’s SodaStream ad had the highest brand association, of posts mentioning both the ad and the brand, and Beckham’s had the lowest. The agency looked at posts during and after the event and considering 250 comments per ad. 

So, who is the winner here? What this illustrates is that when using social media for research it’s not about who won – it’s about why.  

You can get a similar idea by looking at the run-down of all the best marketing activity from the Super Bowl as it happened. Context is king. 

It is great that consumers want to comment about brands on social media, but marketers have to consider the context of the posts and the sentiment. It’s not enough to say a certain campaign drove a certain percentage of conversation, as a simple delve into what is actually said could give a clearer picture. 

Have you used social media research to create great campaigns? If yes, the Marketing Week Engage Awards 2014 are open for submissions of your best marketing case studies of the past 12 months.

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