Sentiment Analysis

Whether you put full-time hours into your companys social media strategy or no time at all, its probable that your brand has an online, social network presence of some sort. Because of the amount of time and effort individuals put into social networking, its likely that somewhere in the realm of social media, you have been or are being mentioned.

For many companies, having their brand shared on social media sites is positive; in fact, its a free way to spread your message that requires little work on your end. However, on the negative end, the comments that are being spread could be detrimental to your business.

If you are not aware of your companys brand sentiment to the public " especially online " you could be missing out on growth opportunities or losing potential business before it even happens. For this reason, sentiment analysis is more important than ever.

Its Not Always Simple

Online sentiment is not always easy to decipher. It can be confusing and challenging, especially when approached incorrectly. Below are a few reasons why.

1. Sometimes Its Not About You: If a social media user mentions a competitor in a status update, you may not think the statement applies to your company at all. Think it through; if they mention they just bought a Mac, what theyre also saying is that theres a reason they didnt buy a PC. Underlying meanings matter in marketing.

2. Emoticons Run Rampant: Even though a statement like, I love my college, sounds great, if its followed with a :/ or , chances are high that theres more to the story. The power behind that emoticon holds a sentiment that makes said college sound negative.

3. Mixed Messages Affect Your Brand: Not every statement is cut and dry. If a customer loves the products he or she purchased, but mentions terrible customer service, potential future customers could be led in another direction.

It Can Be Expensive

Sentiment Analysis can be expensive. Just like clipping services of the past, large brands often outsource sentiment analysis functions to professionals who monitor the networks for information. While this strategy is solid, its also expensive and probably not the best option for small business owners looking to handle their own sentiment analysis on a budget.

Sentiment Analysis on a Budget: Bring it In-House

1. Find the Right App: Apps like Trackur allow business owners and marketing professionals to handle their own online sentiment analysis. With low-price plans " starting at $18 per month " the application uses automated tools to look for specific keywords, and to analyze whether the sentiment associated with that keyword across various networks is negative, positive or neutral.

Updated regularly, Trackur and similar tools are designed to allow brands the luxury of monitoring their own social media sentiment without relying on more expensive, outside firms.

2. Grow Your Network: By making an effort to grow your branded social media networks, youre showing your clients and potential clients that their opinions matter. Youre also creating a forum that puts you back in control, to an extent.

If you create a space where opinions can be voiced with answers from your company, consumers will be more likely to come to you to share that sentiment as opposed to blasting negative information across the open airwaves. This allows you to respond and to rectify any potential situations, positively, without fear of spreading the negativity.

3. Create a Plan: Just like any other marketing initiatives, sentiment analysis efforts should be accompanied by a specific plan. Think of the opinions youd like to monitor " those of your target market and possibly location, depending on your business model.

Follow trends that affect them and try to get a feel for how they respond to different pieces of information that pertain to your industry. Understanding how they react to changes in your industry will allow you to predict their reactions to your own brand.

If possible, assign the duties of opinion monitoring to someone on staff. Give them the freedom to search the web for mention of your company, your competitors and more while focusing on your own social media strategies. Most importantly, empower them to respond to positive and negative feedback: creating a culture of openness and real-time engagement is one of the most important steps a company can take.

Sentiment analysis does not need to be an overly expensive task; however, it must be a focal point of your business. Online sentiment for your brand matters and customers are likely " because of the availability of information " to form opinions from the information they find online before they make any purchase decisions. The time to build an in-house, sentiment analysis plan is now.