This post was inspired by a local business who got on the Twitter this morning, tried to sell me something I didn’t want, and then argued with me when I questioned the accuracy of their statements. Don’t confuse the title – I don’t actually want anyone to use social media to make positive sentiment for their brand melt away. Just the opposite, actually.

What is Brand Sentiment?

Simply put, it’s the sentiment that consumers have towards your brand (positive or negative). Pre-internet, measuring sentiment was a labourious, expensive, rarely undertaken project (with the exception, perhaps, of global giants like Coca-Cola or General Motors). In the digital age, sentiment is easily measurable (as it relates to online content, anyway). There are some nascent tools out there that define brand sentiment as an index and measure data accordingly to generate a rating.

Repeat after me: never, ever treat social media like a direct marketing channel. People do not want to be advertised to on social networks. Sure, they put up with banners, display advertising, and in-stream content… but that’s a heck of a lot less intrusive than the social media equivalent of a door-to-door salesman.

No one likes the door-to-door sales call. Don’t be the online version of that guy.

Five Easy Steps to Create Negative Brand Sentiment Using Twitter

1. Configure your social media dashboard to monitor communications people are having with your competitors on Twitter.

2. When someone has sent out a positive buying signal or thanked one of your competitors, immediately tweet that person telling them that you’re… better + faster + stronger + cheaper + (you get the idea). Oh, and don’t actually follow that person. After all, why would you show an interest in what your prospective customers have to say? Also, you should probably unscrew the earpiece from your office phone – it’s kind of the same thing.

3. Ensure that what you communicated to the person in (2) is fuzzy or misleading. When they call you on it, throw some numbers at them. It doesn’t matter if what you’re suggesting to them is superior to your competitor’s product, or even comparable.

4. When they call you on it, argue with them, and toss out some more numbers. In public, for everyone to see.

5. Make sure that your website is pretty enough to conceal some rather dubious claims about your product or service.

Five Easy Steps to Create Positive Brand Sentiment Using Twitter

My unbridled enthusiasm for all things awesome, and anything positive forced me to end this post on an uplifting, helpful note.

1. Treat Twitter as a customer service and PR tool, not a direct marketing channel. Say the sorts of things that you would say in a product launch press release, or when putting your best foot forward with a new customer or prospect in a face to face meeting.

2. Govern yourself online like you would amongst a gathering of new friends. Be engaging, polite (relative to your audience), and gracious (again, relative to your audience).

3. Build a loyal fan base (audience) by sharing useful, relevant content – relevant to your target audience, and relevant to your brand.

4. Respond with due haste to requests and questions. Be as helpful as you can, as often as you can. If your customers were okay with waiting a week to hear back, they would have written you a letter (of the variety that the postal system delivers).

5. Give people a reason to like you. Not like as in clicking a button on Facebook, but like as in I have warm and fuzzy feelings for your brand and for the people in your organization who embody it.