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6/13/2012
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Sentiment Analysis: How Companies Now Listen To The Web

People are talking on social networks and web sites about your products and brands. Using software to listen in takes new skills and tactics.

Tracking Trends

A second big advantage of social media analysis is that it lets organizations track changes over time. "If consumers are really hurting, do you want to consider raising prices, or do you want to offer some sort of coupon or online offer?" says Cotignola of Kraft. "The great thing about this kind of data is that you can continue to look at it daily to see how things are trending."

A third advantage is that social media provide so much data about your competitors. The American Red Cross doesn't think of other charities as rivals per se, but Ghassemi notes that the number of charities has doubled over the last decade and that they're all competing for donations and volunteers. "Social media has allowed me to look at any organization within the nonprofit sector to find out what they are doing that's working and what's not working," she says.

Just as for-profit companies have seen the power of social media--as in the 12 million views of the "United Airlines Breaks Guitars" YouTube video, or the incident in which Whirlpool's customer service department displeased a blogger/customer with more than 1 million Twitter followers--the nonprofit world has also witnessed cautionary tales. Susan G. Komen for the Cure, for example, was engulfed in controversy after it pulled funding for Planned Parenthood programs in late January. The breast cancer research charity restored funding a few days later after a (Planned Parenthood-fueled) public outcry on social media and elsewhere, but the brand's reputation suffered.

"We all learned a lot from the Susan G. Komen incident, and we took it to heart," Ghassemi says, including "not letting politics get mixed up with the mission" and using social media listening to get ahead of a controversy before it "takes on a life of its own."

Taking Action

When customer sentiments are positive, you actually want social media to help a message take on a life of its own. Author and American Express executive Christopher Frank calls it "the flywheel effect," and in his book Drinking From The Fire Hose: Making Smarter Decisions Without Drowning In Information, he offers a four-phase approach to putting the flywheel to work: listen, engage, measure, and learn.

Many organizations use sentiment analysis technology to listen to and measure social media comments, Frank says, but few engage customers or quickly learn from social media to gain momentum. Among the exceptions, he says, are Dell and Procter & Gamble.

Dell has a Radian6-powered social-media listening command center, where the mantra posted on the wall is "listen, engage, act." Average daily mentions of the Dell brand on Twitter have a greater reach than the combined circulation of the top 12 daily newspapers in the U.S., according to Dell. The company responds to service-related questions and complaints and monitors for consumer tastes and trends.

Now Dell's trying to market its experience: the American Red Cross, for example, worked with Dell to launch the Red Cross's Digital Operations Center in March.

Procter & Gamble was listening to the social buzz in late February when workers at the Daytona 500 were shown on national TV using Tide detergent to clean the track after a crash and fuel spill. Within days, P&G created a TV commercial, posted on YouTube, using footage of the incident. As a sportscaster narrated, talking about "a new use for laundry detergent," captions read: "You keep inventing stains … we'll keep inventing ways to get them out."

"P&G was just tracking the Tide brand, and all of a sudden their monitoring system just lit up," Frank says. "Their social team responded quickly, and it speaks to the capability of being agile."

At American Express, where Frank is VP of the Global MarketPlace Insights Team, the company scrapes 150 million Web sources in search of comments made in several languages. It has built a data cube that contains some 5 million conversations about the company, and it uses this resource, powered by a listening platform from Visible Technologies, for product and market research across the company.

A separate department within American Express responds to individual customer complaints and questions on social media. But Frank says the company is moving toward centralized approaches and standardization of tools.

"Social usually starts with marketing and the product groups on the front lines with the customers, but very quickly you need to loop in IT to build out the capabilities," he says.

chart: which group in your company is responsible for social networ monitoring tools?

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AndreaRavenet
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AndreaRavenet,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/26/2012 | 3:30:13 PM
re: Sentiment Analysis: How Companies Now Listen To The Web
S.A. is about to change the gaming sector, as well.

As social mobile game developers, one of the reasons we began focusing on Twitter was its wealth of data and the challenge of gauging mood in such big data. We've built a psycholinguistic A.I. that uses crowdsourcing, the power of humans voting on human expression that constantly hones "Mind of Man for Twitter": an iOS game that reveals your online persona --gauging moods, emotions, and behaviors--as viewed by the Twitterverse. (With more use, the more powerful and more accurate the "machine" becomes.)

It gets more interesting over time, when, with more tweets, it becomes harder and harder to conceal the "real" you behind the projected (or crafted) "online" you. Users are fascinated with this, as are the companies who use Mind of Man to see the "personality" their company projects on Twitter. They're asking to see themselves not just once, but over time. Users and companies alike want to know how their "voice" is perceived by the rest of the world. "How should I sound?" has become "How do I sound?" It's about time.

You're right, it's all about listening.

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