Canvs Analyzing Instagram for Emotional Responses to TV Shows

Researchers decipher what emojis mean
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Research company Canvs is adding Instagram to the social media it studies to gauge emotional responses among viewers for its TV programming and advertising clients.

Canvs also says it has figured out how to read and analyze emojis, giving it extra insights into what young Generation Z consumers are feeling. Harnessing that information about emotional responses has proved powerful in predicting program ratings and commercial recall.

Instagram is important because it is a fast growing social-media platform, says Stuart Schwartzapfel, chief strategy officer at Canvs. Adding it to the company’s current data from Twitter and Facebook provides clients with a more balanced look at social media activity.

Much of Instagram’s content is visual, making it more difficult to quantify and analyze posts than on Facebook or Twitter.

“It is heavily visual, but there is a scalable amount of commentary, either in the form of rich text or emoji usage that we’re seeing as pretty scalable on Instagram,” Schwartzapfel said.

Those clients include networks like Fox, NBC and ABC, which use Canvs to see how people are feeling about new schedule announcements and trailers for upcoming programs.

A number of media agencies—including Interpublic Group’s Initiative, MDC’s Assembly and Dentsu Aegis—are using Canvs as part of the analysis they use to fine-tune recommendations to their clients.

Canvs found that about half of the messages on brand pages—including those of TV networks—include emojis, making understanding them imperative.

Canvs’ data science team did a study across Instagram and social media at large to understand which emojis are most prevalent, and it identified 1,000 emojis that are most commonly used.

Some emojis are used by themselves, and others are used as part of written messages to amplify meaning.

When the emoji is a smiley face or a heart, they’re fairly easy to translate. But others can be trickier.

“What does a poop emoji mean,” Schwartzapfel said. “If someone says ‘last night’s episode of The Blacklist was amazing,’ and adds a poop emoji, the implication is they’re almost saying ‘not,’” he said.

“There are all these very nuanced emojis that are very inside baseball within the world of Gen Z and these are almost like inside jokes that a small subset of the population really understands,” Schwartzapfel said. “They’re used in different contexts. There’s this element of snark and sarcasm that plays a role in how the emojis are used.”

Canvs is using its emoji data first in its Instagram analytics, but it plans to begin including it in their analysis of other social media.

Also new with Instagram is a new measurement of users tagging friends in comments in order to share content.

The Emotional Tag Rate provides both Facebook and Instagram page owners with the percentage of fan emotion that includes a least one “@mention.” This is a particularly important metric for brands in an Instagram environment that lacks social sharing, the company says.

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