How can companies find out what consumers really think about their brand?

With new technologies and algorithms that automatically collect, index, and analyze customers' opinions about a brand and its products and services, sentiment analysis has never been easier.

Read on to learn more about one of the newest ways to better understand your customers—and find out how to put it to work for your brand.

The Rise of social media—and Sentiment Analysis

Social media and consumer review platforms have completely changed the way consumers communicate. Feedback—whether companies are listening—is available in seconds; customers' voices and opinions are available instantly and heard by other consumers in social media just as fast.

Brands may feel lost in the sheer amount of customer data out there, but a pot of gold is at the end of the rainbow for companies that invest in wading through this data.

Best-Practices for Harnessing Sentiment Data

The best approaches combine data from a diverse set of data resources and add customer sentiment data to the mix.

In addition, information that includes geo-location data, customer-preference analysis, and market-trending information based on contextual text analytics can collectively provide a level of understanding of market dynamics previously unavailable to the industry.

Sentiment analysis is widespread in many industries. For example, Apple is diving deeper into artificial intelligence by acquiring the startup company Emotient, a cloud-based service that uses artificial intelligence to read emotion through the analysis of facial expressions. Also, researchers at the University of Arizona's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory use text mining to search for relevant terms and use sentiment analysis to study what motivates hackers to try to predict how they might act in future attempts at data breaching.

Smart companies are realizing the potential and quality of the insights that sentiment analysis can deliver.

Benefits of Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis empowers enterprises to build their brand, attract new customers, better serve existing clients, and forge more meaningful connections with other key audiences in the social-enabled world.

In short: Insights from sentiment analysis gives businesses the ability to make better decisions and accelerate their revenue growth.

Here are two ways the most innovative companies are applying sentiment analysis to better understand consumers and ultimately power their brands:

  1. Predictive analytics. Using social media data and, more importantly, open-source information (data collected from publicly available sources), companies are identifying patterns in customer behaviors, detecting early product feedback, and identifying indicators that can drive innovation.
  2. Brand management. Being able to track trends between brands in similar sectors or even in completely unrelated markets in real time is an extremely powerful tool to drive brand strategy and measure its effectiveness. At the same time, measuring how different brands relate to the feelings of their target customers is important information for designing winning marketing strategies.

What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

Sentiment analysis technologies empower you to act on customer data and trending social media issues quickly and confidently.

Because sentiment analysis solutions collect and aggregate customer commentary on multiple social media platforms, you can be sure that you're seeing the big picture in conversations about your brand—without missing "little things" that could become big customer-relations headaches or missing opportunities that could lead to increased conversions and customer loyalty.

For example, you can know...

  • Which brands in your industry hold the highest share of voice on social media
  • Who is in conversations about your brand, products, industry, and competitors
  • What topics in your industry generate the most buzz
  • Which influencers are talking about your brand—and your competitors' brands

Sentiment analysis can tell you the answers to all these questions and more. It's impossible to ignore the value that it adds to the industry.

Sentiment analysis bases results on factors that are inherently "human," so it is bound to be a major driver of many business decisions in future. It allows us to harness the wisdom of the crowd rather than only hear the opinions of a select few self-appointed "experts" who just happen to comment the loudest and most frequently.

Taking sentiment analysis into account from a broad base provides a holistic view of how your customers (and potential customers) feel about you, allowing you to build a brand where every opinion counts and every sentiment affects decision-making.

The Future of Sentiment-Driven Brand-Building

Sentiment analysis will continue to gain momentum this year, providing the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage in niche markets by offering tools that translate customer insights into actionable data.

For companies that see the potential of sentiment analysis—paired with other available data and insights—the potential to build stronger, more consumer-connected brands is strong.

Explore how sentiment analysis can fit into your social-media temperature-checks, and you can drive more informed and more agile brand decision-making for your company.

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image of Laura McGarrity

Laura McGarrity is vice-president of Digital at Mondo, a digital marketing and talent agency.

LinkedIn: Laura McGarrity