Using Social Media Analytics to Understand Your Brand’s Story During a Brand Crisis

The Social Media Analytics Case of 5-hour Energy

At best, a brand crisis is a distraction. In the worst cases, large or ill-managed brand crises can spell disaster for a company.

Social Media Analytics on 5-hour EnergyUsing Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight™ social media analytics platform, we have analyzed numerous cases of brand crisis, including a study of United Airlines “losing” a young passenger. By analyzing social opinion – rather looking only at positive and negative sentiment – we see that in almost every case, a brand has a story aside from and beyond the crisis issue. This brand story includes strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your brand’s story through social media analysis puts you in a better position to react to a crisis and to move beyond it.

To illustrate how social media analytics can inform your company’s decisions during and after a brand crisis, we will look at the recent example of the energy drink “5-hour Energy.”

In mid-November 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released information regarding reports of deaths linked to 5-hour Energy over the past several years. Other energy drinks have been similarly cited in recent months. By any measure, this constitutes a brand crisis. But that’s not the whole story of 5-hour Energy.

Social Media Analytics Summary of 5-hour Energy

In the three weeks after the FDA released the information, there were several distinct threads of conversation about 5-hour Energy, both positive and negative.

Negative opinions represent half of the overall conversation about 5-hour Energy, of which 26% cites 5-hour Energy as unsafe. Negative opinions about the taste of 5-hour Energy and a general dislike of the product represent a substantial 15% of the conversation. In addition, 9% of the conversation expressed negative reviews of the 5-hour Energy commercials and the brand’s charity campaign. Earlier in the fall, 5-hour Energy launched a new product flavor, pink lemonade, in conjunction with a breast cancer charity campaign to raise money for the Avon Foundation.

During the three weeks after the FDA released the damaging news, professionals in charge of 5-hour Energy’s brand reputation were surely focused on that crisis. However, social media analytics using ForSight indicates that there are other axes along which customers and potential customers could be more successfully engaged, including advertising and product flavor.

In our analysis, we see that positive mentions represent 13% of the conversation.  The sense that 5-hour Energy works as a pick-me-up represents 24% of the conversation, with expressions such as “5-hour energy helps with studying,” “I need a 5-hour Energy,” and “5-hour energy works.”  These positive stories about the brand can be drawn upon in order to boost brand engagement.

Even during the brand crisis event, 5-hour Energy maintains positive brand attributes in the minds of its customers and the general public.  The “Proportion of Posts by Category” graph, with positive opinions in green shades and the “5- hour Energy is dangerous” category of conversation in red, shows that engagement around the FDA’s report and positive engagement with the brand coexist throughout the period of brand crisis.

Social Media Analytics Proportion Analysis of 5-hour Energy

When companies and advertising agencies confront a brand crisis, they must listen to their customers and work to correct the breach in public perception and trust. However, in these times of brand crisis, the themes and stories that engage customers, whether positive or negative, do not revolve entirely around the crisis at hand. Customers still care about other attributes, including the effectiveness or the flavor of the product. By using ForSight to analyze the social conversation, your company can understand your customers’ nuanced conversation and opinion and effectively plan for your brand’s recovery.

If you’d like to know more about how Crimson Hexagon’s social media analytics technology can help you gain insights about a conversation that matters to your organization or evaluate the success of a media campaign, click here to request a demo of ForSight. Be sure to also follow us on Twitter to stay in touch: @crimsonhexagon.


Written by

The Crimson Hexagon team often collaborates to write about trending topics using our ForSight platform to conduct in-depth analysis of social conversations.

English Japan France Usa Australia Slovakia