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BizReport : Social Marketing : May 03, 2011

What is sentiment analysis?

Marketers have long been looking for new ways to measure social media engagement. Measuring the attitude of a consumer towards a brand, better known as sentiment analysis, is one method that is gaining traction.

by Helen Leggatt

For many marketers, the number of Facebook Likes and Twitter Follows they attract demonstrates their social standing. However, these counts do little to illustrate how engaged fans are.

That's where sentiment analysis comes in. It adds meat to the bones of Likes and Follows.

In a nutshell, it involves the analysis of comments and suggestions left on social media sites such as blogs and social networks. But, instead of analyzing just words, sentiment analysis identifies the Fan or Follower's attitude towards a brand by using variables such as context, tone, emotion, among others.

Marketers with a large social media universe to monitor usually opt for an automated sentiment analysis solution that relies on natural language processing, but humans are by far the best tool. Why? Because machines will never be quite as good as humans in recognizing the subtleties of language, such as sarcasm, or text-speak language such as OMG or LOL.

PaidContent recently launched a new index, called "Social Standing" which gives marketers insight into the current sentiment being expressed about their brand.

To learn more about social marketing and sentiment analysis I heartily recommend reading Neil Glassman's Social Times article on the topic. It looks at the role of sentiment analysis in marketing strategies as well as how to choose from tools currently available.

Tags: engagement metrics, marketing metrics, sentiment analysis, social media, social media measurement

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  • Helen Leggatt

    Thanks for your comments. Seth, I was perhaps too certain in my approach to automation and, of course, a hybrid approach would certainly humanize the process. Watch this space!

  • "Humans will NEVER be as good"? Helen, I wouldn't put any money on that if I were you. There are elements of the sentiment-analysis stack that machines already do better, in particular, fast, high-volume analysis. The answer is a hybrid approach combining human and machine capabilities.

    @Tom, perhaps you're not aware: Radian6 doesn't itself do sentiment analysis. Instead, it relies on sentiment services from other vendors that include Lexalytics, Orchest8's Alchemy API, OpenAmplify, and Clarabridge.

  • As a Radian6 user for our clients, our company utilizes Sentiment Analysis on a daily basis.

  • This sounds like and incredibly useful way to measure social media engagement. I think companies have put to much value in getting "Likes," but are failing to really understand how people feel about their brands. For instance, if you run a promotion and consumers have to Like your brand to get the deal, how many of those Likes are from customers who really care? Analyzing the context and tone of consumer comments can help paint a much clearer picture.



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