General sentiment analysis for the social web has become increasingly useful for shedding light on the role of emotion in online communication and offline events in both academic research and data journalism. Nevertheless, existing general-purpose social web sentiment analysis algorithms may not be optimal for texts focussed around specific topics. This article introduces 2 new methods, mood setting and lexicon extension, to improve the accuracy of topic-specific lexical sentiment strength detection for the social web. Mood setting allows the topic mood to determine the default polarity for ostensibly neutral expressive text. Topic-specific lexicon extension involves adding topic-specific words to the default general sentiment lexicon. Experiments with 8 data sets show that both methods can improve sentiment analysis performance in corpora and are recommended when the topic focus is tightest.