Getting Sentimental

I was shocked to read that a company that analyzes sentiment on the web, who only started in December, is now the preferred choice for digital monitoring for none other than Saatchi and Saatchi. Sentiment360 is that company and Jay Baeur wrote a great post that has given me an inside look at what this company’s success denotes for future social media monitoring.

Semantic web 3.0 is clearly here but how does the average person, with a small business, begin to understand the implications of this new frontier in technology? If we look a little closer at semantic monitoring, I think it is simply a response to our human behaviour online.  Really,  it just makes sense that we would look at language as an indicator of buying trends.

As a writer, I’m kind of thrilled that the written word will be a more prevalent way of communicating with each other but will those same words also become another means of hawking a product versus creating great content? Will the lure to write for a social search engine eventually result in hidden strategy being not so hidden but ubiqutous across the web?

On Sentiment360’s website, they write: “New media-savvy Millenials & Gen Y-ers now outnumber Baby Boomers. The good news is they have $350 billion in direct annual spending power.”

Pretty compelling reason to find out more right? Absolutely. Listening to the conversation is imperative for any business. What makes me a little nervous about this service is when I read how they can help you “exploit the opportunities in today’s new media economy.”

So while Chris Brogan and Seth Godin are espousing truth, autheticity, and complete transparency, other companies are springing up to ‘exploit’ our honest, our emotions, and our authentic selves.

It is the wild west in some ways out there on the web these days and I caution small business’ to be very clear and certain about their social media strategy but also to be wary of exploiting the conversations that their customers have with them. Because, after all, wouldn’t that be undermining the very essence of why we use social media tools in the workplace?

3 Comments

Filed under Writing for Social Media

3 responses to “Getting Sentimental

  1. Dear Margaret,
    Just read your post and as COO of Sentiment360 I’m cognizant of your aversion to the word “exploit”…might be a bit too strong after all…”Use to your best advantage” may reflect a better tone but the truth is that businesses, organizations (really anyone with a stake in the public conversation) has the means to take the pulse of those conversations. The issue we’ve defined is that many of these conversations are just too complex for a machine to understand and accurately pigeonhole. Current “sentiment measurement” is inaccurate. And that can lead to some very poor decision making.

    Perhaps one day that will change, however, for the time being, humans still must intercede in a number of areas. From detecting sentiment in complex sentences, slang, use of symbols and symbolism to understanding the context of videos, audio clips and imagery there is still no substitute for pairing humans with robotic search.

    • Thanks Scott for a great reply. I just wince a little when I see how many companies are, in fact,
      exploiting the trust and truth of people conversing on the web. As in all things,
      it is a fine line between monitoring and spying, using and exploitation, community and self-interest.
      As I mentioned, it is a bit of a wild west situation as everyone tried to comprehend the speed at which
      social media tools are created, used, and employed. I think your company could be an invaluable resource for
      business but perhaps a re-write on key messaging might be in order.

      • Thanks Margaret,

        We’ve taken your point to heart. I think one of the advantages of social media monitoring will, in fact, lessen the ability of companies to exploit (in the worse sense) the conversations. In the past a company could manipulate research to reach whatever conclusions they wished. We’ve all seen examples of that kind of misuse, from the relatively benign to the boldly criminal.

        The beauty of social media is in the fact that whatever is monitored by one, can be monitored by another. This, I hope will provide a series of irrefutable checks and balances.

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