If you have read my ʻThe Inverted Brandʼ article, youʼd probably have remembered my argument on why it is essential for organisations to open their brand and embrace the benefits provided by social media.
Social media has fuelled personal opinions through reviews, ratings, recommendations and other forms of online expression via Twitter, Facebook. etc. In other words, it provides a free platform for organisations to gain valuable insight into what their target audience think of their brands or products. This would have traditionally cost companies money to conduct market research or to hire an agency to run a focus group.
Nowadays, many believe that online opinion has turned into a kind of virtual currency that can make or break a product or even a brand. More importantly, social media enables organisations not only to listen to what their stakeholders have to say, but also to respond to both positive and negative opinions, as and when it happens.
To me and many marketing professionals, the benefits of social media are obvious although I hear many critics are still sceptical about the lack of a standard measurement mechanism.
Sentiment analysis is not a new concept – ʻOpinion Mining and Sentiment Analysisʼ was one of the first academic books on the topic published by a researcher at Yahoo back in 2008 – but it remains a hot trend as it offers a scientific measurement by translating human emotion via text into hard cold data.
ReadWriteWeb listed some useful sentiment analysis tools in the article ʻ5 Ways Sentiment Analysis is Ramping Up in 2009ʼ; some of the tools offer ʻmood analysisʼ so that we can monitor peopleʼs ʻworriednessʼ or ʻexcitednessʼ on certain topics. However, these measurements are not 100% accurate. As Seth Grimes, founder of consulting firm Alta Plana, who pointed out in the New York Times article ʻMining the Web for Feelings, not Factsʼ that many cultural factors and linguistic nuances make it difficult to turn a string of written text into a simple pro or con sentiment. “ʻSinfulʼ is a good thing when applied to chocolate cake” for example.
Whilst we continue to patiently wait for a more accurate evaluation tool to be established, there is already a research project (funded by the National Science Foundation) being carried out using opinion data to predict future trends. But before we see any proof of that concept, I donʼt think it takes an expert to tell you the benefits of a good old conversation with your target audience directly via one efficient platform – online.
Meanwhile, I would be very interested in hearing your opinion on how to measure your success on social media.