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Social Media Keeps It Real

By: Sourabh Sharma
Posted: August 19, 2013

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Sentiment is the range of conversations going from less positive to more positive. Passion represents the intensity of the conversations, differentiating the "like" and "dislike" from the stronger emotions of "love" and "hate," respectively.

Social media research enables brands to measure the positivity and strength of conversations, as well as the relative volume of conversations regarding certain brands. In this case, strength could also be described as passion. How passionately does a consumer speak about their love or contempt for a particular brand or experience? By failing to consider the strength of a statement, one misses the important nuances and valuable insights inherent to social media research.

If a brand is talked about with high positivity and high passion, it’s in a brand’s best interests to try to sustain equity among consumers. Low passion and high sentiment indicates the need for brand revitalization, perhaps a booster shot of brand excitement. Similarly, if the sentiment is low and the passion is low, a more significant brand overhaul may be in order. The most challenging brand position is that of high passion and low sentiment, as this indicates that consumers actively dislike the brand or some experience they’ve recently had in relation to the brand.

SKIM’s skin care meta-analysis revealed one true winner and one true loser. (See Table 5.) Clinique dominated the “love” quadrant. For the two months examined, it was the most talked about brand, eliciting comments such as:

  • “Clinique mild exfoliating lotion is exceptionally good. It contains salicylic acid which clears out the pores but it's mild enough to use every day. It is my miracle product.” —Community, June 2013
  • “Clinique - my fav :).... last year i try clinique and i got hooked up on it now i cant live with out it” —Facebook, June 2013
  • “I'm 47 and have been using Clinique since junior year in HS...some 30 years! People always tell me I look at least 10 years younger. I owe it to Clinique and their Dramatically Different lotion ... :) Thanks Clinique!” —Facebook, June 2013

Unfortunately, Garnier was alone in the “hate” category during these two months, receiving negative barbs including:

  • “I ordered this Garnier bb cream… once you take it out of the box, it’s clearly not the same shade as the picture at all, it’s even darker than the other bb creams I have!” —Tumblr, July 2013
  • “Has anyone had problems with the Garnier BB cream? It has alcohol in it.” &mash;Community, June 2013
  • “Garnier Skincare Ultra-lift Anti-wrinkle Eye Roller, 0.5-Fluid Ounce - I have almost used this product up. I have not seen a noticeable difference in eye wrinkles, but I only use it once a day because it causes me 2 side effects. 1. It is very irritating when it leaks into your eyes. I have oily skin and my creams and lotions tend to migrate into my eyes after several hours. So I use it at night only for this reason. 2. It is giving me milia around my eyes. I like the roller ball application, but I will be searching for new eye cream.” —Reviews and Ratings, May 2013

Actionable Insights Bring Value to SMR

A great deal was learned from just two months of conversations. And all of it has long-term implications for the future of the brands themselves and the industry overall.

  • It is important for every brand to understand the skin care competitive landscape. Every brand has a market position in terms of appeal, and each brand has perceived strengths and areas of needed improvement.
  • Skin care is most talked about on communities/forums and Tumblr.
  • Consumers talk about general skin problems, complexion and acne.
  • They most seek moisturizer and use BB creams, and Clinique and Olay are perceived most positively for moisturizers.
  • Most brands are purchased in pharmacies, followed by Sephora.
  • In terms of skin care, consumers seek products that showcase competence, agreeableness and are classy, and do not care as much for fashionable, funny or sexy products.

Skin care consumers are generally overwhelmed by the array of brands and products ranging from $300 department store creams to $2 drug store serums. Social media shows that consumer desires are simple: moisturizing and general skin care, plus certain specific needs. Brands need not be similarly overwhelmed by the plethora of conversations available via social media. A powerful lens on the life of the consumer awaits; it’s time to dive in.

Sourabh Sharma is a New York-based communication and social media research expert for SKIM. He is passionate about extracting value from the rapidly evolving brand-to-consumer interface by his active work in social media research. Sharma has worked in management consulting, preceded by a role in brand management and product development at L'Oréal. Sharma holds degrees in engineering and marketing, and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the Rotterdam School of Management.