Net Reputation Score: Dropping Neutral Mentions Means More

There are several ways to measure brand reputation in social media.  Net Reputation Score (NRS) is popular, but problematic method.

Net Reputation Score is easy to calculate. It’s the percentage of positive mentions minus the percentage of other mentions (neutral and negative). This means that the end result is always a value between +100 (a brand with all positive mentions) and -100 (a brand with no positive mentions.

Net Reputation Score = [% positive mentions] – [% negative mentions + % neutral mentions]

This seems reasonable… until you take a closer look:

  • A brand with 60 positive mentions, 20 neutral mentions and 20 negative mentions would have a NRS score of +20 (60-40). This is reasonable.
  • A brand with 10 positive mentions, 30 neutral mentions and 60 negative mentions would have a NRS score of -70 (10-80). This is also reasonable.
  • A brand with 60 positive mentions, 40 neutral mentions and no negative mentions would have an NRS score of +20. This is ludicrous since for a brand with no negative mentions.

The core problem is the influence of neutral mentions — which always have the highest brand volume.  Treating a neutral mention the same as a negative mention doesn’t make sense. If you can’t discern a negative mention from a neutral mention, the result is an imperfect proportion — and a poor indicator of brand reputation.

The way to improve NRS is simple.  Ignore neutral mentions. These have little impact on reputation, and removing from the equation fixes the math problem.   The result is still a value between +100 and -100, but the range accurately represents brand status:

  • A revised NRS score of +100 represents a (rare, unicorn) brand with all positive mentions;
  • A revised NRS score of -100 represents an (uncommon, unpopular) brand with all negative mentions; and
  • A revised NRS score of 0 represents a (common) brand with equal volume of positive and negative mentions.

Scores slightly higher than zero and slightly lower than zero will be common. And, it’s possible to benchmark brands over time, or against competitors, accurately using this revised NRS calculation:

Net Reputation Score = [% positive mentions]  – [% negative mentions]

An even better solution? Forego NRS altogether in favor of Net Sentiment Score.