Launches for consumer-facing companies can make or break a product. If the initial reaction is positive, the buzz generated can drastically increase sales. An initially negative reaction can destroy any goodwill associated with the product and hamper sales. Because of this, brands are always searching for new ways to gauge sentiment for new products. Social media has made it easier than ever to get real-time feedback on a new release, allowing companies to track the response to new products faster than ever before. However, the sheer volume of data from social media makes it impossible to tally and accurately gauge sentiment.

Companies are constantly finding new ways to get an overall average of how people feel on social media, with emoji’s being used the latest method for tracking sentiment. Often overlooked as a silly fad, emojis actually provide fantastic detail on the public’s reaction towards a product. What’s more, they are most commonly used by the coveted 13-25 age range that advertisers are constantly trying to reach. Any reaction that uses emoji’s tends to show that the marketing worked in reaching their target demographic.

Emojis Give Adidas a Boost

Last month Adidas announced the release of their new sneaker in collaboration with Kanye West, the Yeezy Boost. We’ll use the release of the shoe to show how emoji’s actually work better than natural language processing at showing sentiment towards the new release.

The first way that brands tried to elicit opinions from social media used natural language processing (NLP) to interpret text. This method works by analyzing the words used in social media posts and then compares them to a bank of words that are commonly associated with either negative or positive sentiment. From this, the algorithm can determine the feelings behind the message. This technique provides valuable information, but it is not always accurate. NLP can only use the words it is given to guess sentiment; it can’t detect non-verbal communication like sarcasm and struggles with words that have multiple meanings. While natural language processing can struggle to truly detect the sentiment behind a tweet, emoji’s have proven to be a much more effective indicator. Emoji’s are far less ambiguous to interpret than natural language. When we look at the following tweets about the new Yeezy’s, NLP determined that the sentiment was neutral (shown by the yellow bar), while it is clear from the emoji’s that the opinions are overwhelmingly positive.







When we look at emoji usage as a whole in relation to the new Yeezy Boosts, it’s clear that the sentiment is very positive. The most used emoji was the heart-filled eyes, while the double exclamation, fire and different heart emoji’s also feature prominently. The emoji cloud makes it easy to determine the sentiment within seconds.


While the Word Cloud provides insight into the key terms or issues associated with Yeezey’s, the sentiment is not clear. The majority of terms are neither positive or negative, making it almost impossible for NLP algorithms to determine how the public actually feels about the new Yeezy Boosts.


Looking at the breakdown of the overall sentiment backs this up. 59% of all of the messaging on social media was classified as neutral because NLP could not determine if it should be negative or positive.


The good news for Adidas and Kanye West is their new shoe appears to have been very well received by the public. Emoji’s may not be the conventional way of finding this out, but they may well be the most effective method we currently have.