In the early hours of Nov. 25 (and in some cases, the evening hours after Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 24), millions of Americans will embark on Black Friday odysseys, questing for the doorbuster deals and backroom specials that whip the shopping public into a frenzy year after year.
And if recent research on social media trends holds any truth, they’ll likely be hating every moment of it.
Social media intelligence tracker Crimson Hexagon analyzed millions of social posts between 2010 and 2015 to understand how changes in the retail industry are affecting Black Friday participation and perception among consumers.
According to the research, a bulk of the online conversations revolving around Black Friday last year focused on anger, sadness, fear and despair not necessarily the feel good vibes retailers aim for.
Sentiment wasn’t always so bleak. Back in 2010, more than half of the posts observed were positive in nature, and only 20 percent were deemed negative. Five years later, those happy feelings took a turn. About one-third of Black Friday posts in 2015 were positive and nearly 40 percent are negative.
The swing should have retailers’ attention, too, because as the online conversation has grown more bleak it has also dropped off.
As a proportion of the overall Twitter dialogue, Black Friday has fallen from a massively trending topic to a blip on the radar. You can be sure that you’ll still see a few tweets about a great deal or a retail horror story, but if the trends persist, your feed will be noticeably less fixated on Black Friday than in years past.
The research shows that the negative posts often stick to the same script.
With jam-packed stores and sometimes questionable “deals,” there are bound to be complaints. Social media, with its instant gratification and wide reach, becomes the perfect sounding board for disgruntled shoppers.
Left out of Crimson Hexagon’s study is the increased rate of social media usage over the time period. Were there simply more consumers online airing complaints in 2015 than in 2010 because there were more people active on social media? Using the proportion of the Twitter conversation as a measure of activity instead of pure volume makes the data a bit more reliable, but not by much.
Even with all the bad social media vibes, Black Friday will still be a massive cultural event with long lines, overtaxed workers and angry shoppers. If you venture out, be careful not to rub anyone out there the wrong way. Even if they don’t lash out physically or verbally, this data shows that they’ll probably post some nasty stuff online about you and how much Black Friday sucks.