Why You Should Be Using Sentiment Analysis in the Age of Social Media

Feb 10, 2017

social media sentiment analysis

Sentiment analysis uses natural language processing to determine whether a piece of writing or a social media post is positive, neutral, or negative. Also often referred to as ‘opinion mining,’ sentiment analysis tools can ascertain the writer’s tone and general opinion on a specific topic. Sentiment analysis looks beyond likes, hits, and ratings to measure what consumers feel and think about a brand, product, or business.

Advanced Vs Basic Sentiment Analysis

Techniques and approaches to sentiment analysis can be broadly grouped into three different categories: knowledge-based, statistics-based, and hybrid. Knowledge-based techniques classify text based on the presence of unambiguous words that indicate affect, mood, and tone (such as ‘angry,’ ‘sad,’ or ‘happy,’). Statistics-based techniques use algorithms and elements from machine learning to try and determine the object, subject, and other grammatical elements of a sentence. Hybrid techniques use elements of both knowledge-based and statistics-based techniques.

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Less advanced sentiment analysis tools often run into issues when faced with sentences that use contrastive conjunctions. For example, a basic sentiment analysis program might not be able to properly determine the tone of a sentence like “The juice bar is nice, but the service was awful.” Basic programs can often get confused by the use of two conflicting mood indicators (‘nice’ and ‘awful’). Binary sentiment analysis programs, however, are able to use the word ‘but’ as an indicator that the sentence contains two different tones and will analyze each part of the sentence separately, generating two (or more) scores for the sentence rather than one. Binary sentiment analysis is currently the best choice for businesses as it offers greater tone detection abilities for complex sentences and pieces of writing.

Social Media Makes Sentiment Analysis a Necessity

Sentiment analysis is an extremely effective method for businesses to get feedback on their products, marketing methods, and overall brand perception without directly surveying consumers. In the age of social media, businesses need to use advanced binary sentiment analysis solutions to be aware of the narrative surrounding their brand outside of traditional reviews. Sentiment analysis can be applied to posts on social media that mention the business in addition to those that are sent directly to them, giving businesses a greater understanding of their brand perception on a very wide scale.

This is especially helpful for social media platforms that have an enormous number of posts and users and a great variety in the makeup of posts. A good example of one of these platforms is Twitter, where consumers discussing a business do not always use the company’s username—they often say “I love Burger King” instead of “I love @BurgerKing,” for example. Using Twitter sentiment analysis also allows businesses to see how their brand is mentioned in conversations. These could also include conversations that aren’t directly reviewing or commenting on the quality of their brand, service, or product. For instance, analyzing a post that said something like “Meeting everyone at Burger King after the movies; I hope no one is late!” would still benefit the business and would give them a better understanding of consumer habits, preferences, and patterns.

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Twitter sentiment analysis and other sentiment analysis tools allow businesses to respond both directly and indirectly to consumer feedback. For example, a business that found, via sentiment analysis, that their blobfish mascot was putting people off despite not having received direct complaints about it, could subtly introduce changes—replacing the blobfish with something decidedly more friendly, like a koala, or making tongue-in-cheek jokes at the blob fish’s expense. Expedia Canada used sentiment analysis in this way when they noticed that the violin music used in one of their television commercials was annoying customers enough that they were posting very frequently—and angrily—about it on social media. Expedia changed the music, airing a new version of the commercial in which a violin was repeatedly smashed. This showed consumers that their opinions were heard and valued by Expedia, and showed a humorous side, improving Expedia’s brand perception.

The Bottom Line

Because we are living under the reign of social media, sentiment analysis is a business’s best option to decide and implement an effective marketing strategy. It helps businesses understand consumer preferences, dislikes, habits, and overall brand perception, and what customers are and are not receptive to in terms of advertisements and marketing. To properly and thoroughly engage with consumers and help build or improve brand perception and reputation, businesses should utilize advanced binary sentiment analysis tools.

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