Them’s Fightin’ Words: Allergies & Figurative Language on Social Media

Spring has officially begun and has unleashed allergy season in its wake. The arrival of tiny pollens billowing through the air has also spiked patient discussion of allergies online. In the past month alone, patients with seasonal allergies made over 4,000 posts on social media. That number is sure to grow as flowers bloom and trees blossom, increasing allergy symptoms nationwide.
For a marketing team hoping to target this patient community, it’s important to understand how patients are talking about their allergies online. In addition to the usual complaints about allergy season and pollen indices, patients use figurative language to discuss their symptoms.
Patient language characterizes allergies by giving them agency over the sufferer. This personification involves two primary roles: the “attacker” and the “frenzied.”


When patients discuss allergies “attacking” them, they use violent language to symbolize the impact of their symptoms. Imagery of battles and fights, including being kicked, punched, and hit by allergies, populates these patient posts.


In addition to feeling attacked and bombarded by their symptoms, it’s clear that patients struggle to control their allergies. Patients mention their allergies in terms of an out-of-control frenzy. This includes language that speaks of their inability to reign in symptoms. Phrases describing allergies as “going into overdrive,” “acting up,” and “going crazy” reveal feelings of powerlessness in the patient experience, and express the uncontrollable nature of their symptoms.


These two examples of personification illustrate that patients feel an inherent lack of agency when it comes to controlling their allergies. Understanding why patients employ this communication technique is invaluable for marketing efforts.
The language that patients use to describe their conditions can be incorporated into direct-to-consumer messaging to better resonate with the community. In this case, marketing teams might consider including language that focuses on the “fight” against allergies. Furthermore, understanding why patients adopt this language is useful when considering the consumer mindset. For example, patients with symptoms of seasonal allergies experience a lack of agency when dealing with their condition. Having this information gives teams the chance to focus on these sentiments in marketing efforts.
ListenLogic works directly with clients to uncover insights like these, which give a snapshot of the consumer mindset. To learn more about how social media analytics can help your team, head to our website.

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