The Trick To Understanding Sentiment

By May 2, 2016How To

If you’re in marketing, you’ve no doubt heard about sentiment. And you probably have your own views on it. It gets a bad rep, and in a lot of ways for the right reasons. But considering its widespread use, it’s worth digging a little deeper into the metric and seeing how to use it effectively and ethically.

Take this tweet. It actually ranks as negative sentiment yet, it more truly should be neutral to slightly positive. The main beef with sentiment is that most algorithms can’t fully master the nuances of speech. Sarcasm, in particular, is rather hard to get without full context.

Fortunately, technology is rapidly evolving, and sentiment is already bounds better than it was years ago. Sentiment is more than just a word for word analysis. Any sentiment analysis should include:

  • Sentiment shifters (e.g. “I find this tool less useful than yours”)
  • Connectives (e.g. “This tool is everything but useful”)
  • Modals (e.g. “In theory, this tool should be useful”)

Most tools now factor this in and allow for semantic interpretation and analysis. This gives you a great base. Sentiment really shines in showing you how to adapt, what your strengths and weaknesses really are, and where you stand. As much as sentiment tools are evolving, these are things that can really only be gleaned by human review. This review should look at

  • Topics: what are the main areas of discussion?
  • Aspects (subtopics and attributes): what about those topics is being talked about?
  • Sentiment: what is the sentiment of the content and the opinions contained?
  • Holder: whose opinion is being discussed? Are there multiple in the same content? If so, how do they differ, if at all?
  • Time: when was this content posted?

These factors help you know what to do with sentiment. Knowing your brand has a 60% positive sentiment ranking provides little insight. Knowing that the reason your brand has that sentiment score is because of excellent customer service helps you decide to put more resources into customer service.

So, don’t throw sentiment out with the bathwater. It can be a very valuable starting point for insight. Just know you have to dig a little deeper into it. We recognise that here at Buzz Radar, so we actually separate out our sentiment by platform and emotion to help you really understand the why. Coupled with Word Clouds and information on most influential posts, you can start to get a better sense of what’s really driving your sentiment score.