Why Your Brand Shouldn’t Overlook Sentiment Analysis


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Why is Apple the world’s most valuable brand? Here’s a hint: it’s not because of an amazing new device or application.

Apple’s value depends on consumer sentiment. Evangelists, fans, and even the company’s detractors come to their understanding of the brand through the intangible values Apple professes to embody. In other words, reality is perception. But that begs an important question: how can brands like Apple understand, shape and leverage consumer sentiment?

What is Sentiment Analysis?
Sentiment analysis refers to a combination of methodologies that include natural language processing, text analysis and computational linguistics. The goal of sentiment analysis to systematically identify, extract and quantify subjective information.

In concrete terms, a marketer or publicist might quantify how many times a social media post is Liked or Shared, but sentiment analysis is how they understand, at scale, the opinions of those who engaged with the post. Did your viral post evoke powerful, positive emotions that align with your brand’s core values? Did people laugh at your post—for the right reasons? Is the engagement you’re seeing genuine, or is your brand being trolled? These are the kinds of questions that require sentiment analysis to answer.

Opinions at Scale are the Lifeblood of Marketing and PR
For marketers, consumer sentiment represents both the environment in which every campaign runs as well as a benchmark against which all campaigns are measured. In other words, sentiment analysis can help marketers better understand the challenges their campaigns face as well as how they should be measuring success.

Before the campaign, it’s critical to understand consumer sentiment in the category. For example, a bank offering a new financial product doesn’t do so in a vacuum. The bank’s message lives inside an ecosystem of complex consumer opinions that, if understood, help marketers arrive at the most effective messaging.

Of course, analysis can also be applied to the campaign metrics so that marketers can measure the extent to which their message reshapes consumer sentiment. If the goal of the campaign is to persuade, it’s important to quantify the degree to which your message has changed consumer minds. But even if the goal is sales, marketers can identify and better understand winnable audience segments by analyzing consumer sentiment metrics. Alternatively, the same analysis can also help marketers segment out audiences they’re unable to convert, then take a deep dive into why those consumers feel the way they do and reengage with a new message.

In many ways, the same principles also apply to public relations. But because of the power of social media, it’s critical for sentiment analysis to play an ongoing role in a company’s real-time response to emerging news stories.

Consider the NBA’s recent experience surrounding a tweet that was seen as supportive of the Hong Kong protests. Not only did the NBA have to navigate geopolitical concerns, but it also needed to understand, in real time, how its fans across the world saw the event. Equally important, that understanding depended on the ability to capture sentiment within the natural language, as opposed to translation.

Whatever sentiment analysis the NBA conducted probably elicited a broad range of opinions. And no single message in that scenario can be a silver bullet. But what’s important is that sentiment analysis can help the NBA move from a reactive to proactive stance—one where they possess a deep understanding of the audience, the fluid trends that are shaping opinion, and how they can use that knowledge to regain control of their brand’s narrative.

Sentiment is Product
For most organizations, sentiment analysis likely plays some role in marketing and PR. But the learnings from sentiment analysis extend far beyond an organization’s communications teams. A good product, after all, is one that hits a particular sweet spot or pain point for consumers. By integrating sentiment analysis into product development, firms improve their chances of delivering goods and services consumers want.

Think back to the example of the bank offering a new financial product. The conception of that new product, whether it’s a new mobile payment tool or a savings account, benefits greatly from sentiment analysis. Every product should be designed with the customer’s needs in mind. In that way, sentiment analysis can help the bank determine which products to move forward with and provide insight into how the bank can make iterative progress toward a better product by incorporating consumer sentiment.

The same holds true for the NBA, although their product (the sport of basketball) takes on added complexity because of its place in the larger culture. The central point, however, remains the same. The better you know your customers, the more likely you are to make something they’ll want to buy.

Brett Champlin
Brett Champlin is Senior Solutions Specialist at Babel Street, the world's data-to-knowledge company. Brett is an experienced threat management and global security professional with a diverse background in leading companies including Uber and Alexion Pharmaceuticals. He has specialization in diverse geopolitical issues, predictive risk, crisis management and threat mitigation to employees, facilities, and company equities.


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