What is Sentiment Analysis, and Why is it Important?
“The customer’s perception is your reality. What they think about your products, MATTER. If you don’t put your customer’s perception first, THE GAME IS OVER.” – Sharfaraz Ahmed
Social listening is all the rage, and it is constantly expanding as we learn more about it. We need to start taking what our customers think into account. That includes what they are saying about us and our companies online. The only way to grow is to adapt and evolve. The only way to do that is to actually listen to the people you are trying to engage with. Sentiment analysis is probably the best form of social listening, and it is something I will always vouch for. But what is it, how does it work, and is it actually beneficial to you?
What You Will Learn
Before I hop into all the details, please read through a brief rundown of the topics that I will be covering in this guide:
- What is sentiment analysis?
- What the point in it is?
- How it can boost your business?
- The setbacks
Sentiment Analysis: What it is?
Sentiment analysis can be explained in both a complex and a simple way, and I am going to make an explanation of what it is as simple as possible for you. Essentially, it is an algorithm that is used to scan the web for mentions of you, your business, and your products. While it is possible to create your own software to do this, just buying a tool that does it for you is the easiest option. It’s also the one with the least hassle.
When the algorithm has finished gathering the mentions (usually through machine learning), it will filter them according to their sentiment. This refers to the emotional tone behind the message, and it will be categorized as either positive, negative, or neutral. The tool can then be used to read through specific sentiments so that you are able to see exactly what people are saying about you. Some tools will actually give you a specific emotion, but the polarity forms are certainly the most common.
What’s the Point in Sentiment Analysis?
An excellent question, and one that I can answer quite easily. The whole point is that it shows you what people feel about you, helping you to better understand your audience. You can also learn how to better engage with them and see which posts are the most effective. It’s all about showing you exactly how you carry yourself through the business world. You can learn where you are going right and wrong so that you can alter your actions accordingly.
Here’s why you should be using it:
- Offers quick and effective data processing
- Provides real-time analysis to keep you updated at all times
- Clears up any issues with understanding emotional tone
- Allows you to identify positive and negative comments for better audience engagement and understanding
- Tracks customer reactions and how they change with what you are posting, which also means you can prevent social media crises and address issues quickly
- Find influencers that spread the word and love for your company and products so that you can work alongside them
How Sentiment Analysis Can Boost Business
“Customers love certainty, make sure you give it to them.” – Amit Kalantri
Here’s an interesting fact for you; 80% of the world’s data is completely unorganized, and we have things like email and social media to thank for that. It’s because text-based data is difficult to organize correctly, and the analyzing process is exceptionally long and tedious. That’s part of what sentiment analysis is so fantastic. It makes sense of the incoming data for you and organizes it to create a process that is more efficient and has clearer results.
This isn’t necessarily a massive benefit though, and there are other advantages that can help to boost your business. What are they? Just take a look below at my tidy little list:
- Scalability. Quick and cost-effective data processing.
- Real-Time Analysis. Live information to keep you updated and help you stay in touch with customers.
- Consistent Criteria. We can only agree on the emotional tone behind text 60% of the time, so having an algorithm clears up the issue.
- Business Success. You can identify positive and negative comments so that you can assess your position and better engage your audience.
- Tracking. You can track customer reactions and how they change according to what you post, as well as address social media crises before they happen.
- Influencer Search. Find the users that are happiest with your products, as well as those that have the most engagement, to discover your next influencer.
The Setbacks of Sentiment Analysis
Despite how fantastic it is, sentiment analysis is not perfect. Sadly, nothing in this world is. Despite this, it remains an accurate system around 80% of the time, which is pretty reliable. The setbacks account for the remaining 20%, and they do mean that you may have to manually sift through results from time to time. It does remain an excellent and solid system to use though. Here’s what sentiment analysis struggles with:
- Tone. Sarcasm and irony can be difficult for humans to pick up, let alone an algorithm. You may find sarcasm and irony are incorrectly categorized because the system cannot decipher them correctly
Example: You can see here 2 posts above that should be rated as Positive and are rated as Negative.
The one that says “I want an Audemars Piguet so bad” is actually something he/she wants/likes, but is rated as negative because of the keyword “bad”
The other one that says “The unique Audemars Piguet… This insane timepiece features a 44mm…”: again, the keyword “insane” is gated as negative whereas in this case, it’s actually pretty positive.
- Context. Words and expressions can be troublesome for sentiment analysis, and they may be filtered improperly because of this. Some tools come with context updates in the code, but it’s something you will have to watch out for.
- Comparisons. This links back to context because when products are compared the algorithm can become confused. So, when customers are doing a competitor product vs your own, you may find the sentiment results can be a little skewed.
- Emojis. Sentiment algorithms have a hard time reading the emotion behind images, and it is cruel to make them do so. On the plus side, many tools do factor Western and Eastern emojis into the process in order to create more accurate results. Just check before you buy it.
I hope this has been able to teach you more about sentiment analysis and social listening. There are so many advantages to this fantastic tool. It can really help you to learn more about your target market, the way you can engage with them, and where you can change. This refers to things like your marketing techniques. It’s also how you interact with your customers on a regular basis. Even the littlest things can become some of the biggest game changers when building your brand.
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