Market Strategies International recently released the first edition of what it says will be an annual Social Media Brand Index, a measure for brands both of consumer-generated social media about them and of their own sponsored content. The Index takes into account four components. Volume, or the amount of buzz about a brand online, is one of them — and its most highly weighted component, too. The others take their cue from what we might call more meaning-related measures, sentiment analytics and semantic markup among them.

For example, there’s net Sentiment, which Market Strategies says represents the ratio of positive to negative sentiments expressed about a brand based on automated natural language processing of the content of posts, comments and mentions. Another component, Positive Emotions, seems to flow from that measure, representing the number of content items that are identified as having the warm fuzzies about them, again based on automated coding of content.

And, finally, sponsored presence represents the number of “likes” on a company’s sponsored Facebook U.S.English page; the “likes” feature relies on to the service’s Open Graph semantic markup. Sponsored presence also will consider the number of followers per sponsored corporate Twitter account, and the number of subscribers to sponsored YouTube channel(s), as a measure of intent to create consumer engagement. The analysis, by the way, notes that the ten most social brands enjoy above-average reach for their sponsored Facebook, Twitter and YouTube presences, but it also comes to the conclusion that “while Facebook is a highly common sponsored presence, … Facebook rarely seeds social conversations as effectively as Twitter.”

Diving Into the Measurements

The first three measures – volume, net sentiment and positive emotions – actually are generated with the help of NetBase’s enterprise social intelligence platform, which uses its natural language processing, text analytics, and machine learning to index over 9 billion sound bites for the Index. Last month, NetBase launched its latest NetBase ESI platform that enhances its real-time tracking of buzz, sentiment and drivers of customer opinion, as well as new issue tracking, brand analysis and competitive intelligence capabilities.

The Market Strategies survey finds that the brands that come out on top in its Index share two traits: a relatively high volume of discussion across social media channels and strong positive emotions. That said, a top rating on the positive emotion side doesn’t necessarily mean unqualified approval, it says. For instance, the survey reports, Walt Disney is among the top 20 Social Brands, but “strong reach and high volume of positive emotions in social conversations are counterbalanced by relatively high negative sentiment, due in part to consumer concerns about theme park pricing and Disney Channel content.” It cautions that reach without positive sentiment is all well and good for keeping a corporate brand in the public eye, but ultimately, “brands do not enjoy the full luxury of the “any publicity [is good publicity]” adage online.”

And just who else is among those brands? The top 20 list is as follows:

 

As you may note, the list isn’t particularly rich in B2B brands. Market Strategies acknowledges that, and in fact advises that marketers gauge what expectations and tactics are appropriate to their particular industry: “If no scores in your industry reach the top quartile, for example, you are likely in an industry where the intensity of brand loyalty is lower and products are intrinsically less amenable to social discussions; tailor your social media marketing investment accordingly,” it notes.

For those tailoring those investments up, there have been some other recent announcements, in addition to the NetBase updates, of tools that can help. Link-sharing platform Bitly released a new social Reputation Monitoring service powered by Lexalytics’ sentiment analytics technology, to understand how the tone of content is trending and act on that. And Dachis Group integrated the Facebook Insight API and added a Content Insight capability to its Social Performance Monitor SaaS software, so brands can better understand how well their pages are reaching Facebook users and uncover which conversations they’re having on Facebook that are the most effective.