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The Invisible Bridge

No matter how good our tools get at measuring sentiment and engagement in online discussions about brands, a part of me thinks that we shouldn’t directly care about it all that much. It may be the best we can do to measure social media for now, but what if we’re really seeking doesn’t show up in any reports, in any social media listening platform?

What the metrics of sentiment and engagement tell us, can be thought of as the only indicators we have as to the measures of trust and influence that brands have.

Trust and Influence

Trust and influence are not currently measurable using the standard social media listening method of pulling information from the Internet based on brand or topic mentions. It’s difficult for “trust”, or “influence” to embed themselves in samples of text.

The goals of online/offline marketing campaigns, would it make more sense to say that their goals should be to increase the sentiment consumers have with the brand? The engagement our key customers have with the brand? What if we stated the goal as being to improve the trust that consumers have in our brand?

Of course sentiment, the equivalent of “do people like me” can provide information on the effectiveness of your different efforts, and how people are reacting to the different elements of your business or campaigns, but who seays that sentiment or engagement are really business drivers over the long term. Would not the improvement of consumer trust, and the increase of brand influence over time be real drivers of business?

But as much as we can measure sentiment and engagement, if this is true these two metrics can provide insight into trust and influence, then how exactly do they do it?

Well we can imagine some different ways to group these ideas together and create a model that might create dependencies. Without engagement with a brand (either directly or indirectly), then there is can be no possibility of influence. Or maybe sentiment, and the part of having an emotional connection with a brand, is necessary for any trust to be there (I’m conjecturing here that in order to trust something, you have to have emotions towards it).

Identifying Trust and Influence

How would these dependencies be acted upon and how do the four properties of sentiment, engagement, influence and trust interact with each other? Well again we can pay attention to the different manifestations of community and communication online, each of which creates new behaviour patterns that it’s users must follow.

In a few examples I would think that behaviour patterns are the types of things our social media listening platforms will need to evolve to. Posting a message on Twitter might be an instance of sentiment, and sharing a link might be an example of engagement, but posting a link, and having a large percentage of your followers follow the link could be a pattern that demonstrates your influence over your followers.


This is the beginning of my thinking of the connection between what we are measuring, and what is the best demonstration of a successful brand.
I would appreciate any feedback on these ideas as they are now.

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