People are talking on social networks and web sites about your products and brands. Using software to listen in takes new skills and tactics.
If only it were that simple.
If you wade even ankle deep into social media monitoring, you quickly realize that it's a much more nuanced problem than spotting positive or negative opinions. For starters, comments often have multiple meanings or gradations of meaning (see "7 Ways Sentiment Is Hard To Decipher Online"). And when it comes to marketing research, the best insights often come with no mention of a specific company or its products.
"The mistake people make is they just listen for brands and miss all the conversations," says Frank Cotignola, consumer insights manager at Kraft Foods. "I tell people who are using this data to flip it around: Listen to what people are saying, and then see how your brand fits in." Knowing what percentage of comments about a barbecue sauce brand are positive or negative may be far less valuable than gathering insight into what people like about barbecuing, how they cook, or how they'd like to cook.
Cotignola and other seasoned miners of social media sentiment--at the likes of American Express, The Wall Street Journal, and the American Red Cross--say it takes a lot of human interpretation to get any value out of sentiment reports. While the technology is driven by ...