Social Media Sentiment: Better Safe than Sorry

Posted: February 20, 2011 in All About Cars, Chevrolet, Jeep, Listening & Monitoring, New Media Road Trip, Volvo
Tags: , , , , ,

Sentiment is the “It” girl in social media monitoring.
In the circle of social media, we do monitor everything, but sentiment is the one we cannot afford to ignore or forget. After all, no brand or marketer likes to hold a Twitter bomb when it’s already ignited. We monitor the sentiment so we can immediately jump in to save the negative conversations. My question here is:

“How do we find those ‘bombs’ in the jungle of social media?”

Recently I’ve been learning and practicing online monitoring by experimenting with a variety of monitoring tools. Here are my current thoughts on finding social media “bombs”:

1. Basic Tools Do Help

We can find hundreds of monitoring tools, free or not free. However, I think some basic tools are still effective in listening and detecting.

For general web contents, Google Alerts is a must-have tool. Google Alerts can be used to collect news, forum discussions, blogs, and other web contents. I’ve been using Google Alerts to practice monitoring for three automobile brands: Chevrolet, Jeep, and Volvo. By setting up different mix of keywords, I can organize the information and put it into different alert groups.

Google Alerts helps us categorize the search results into “News”, “Blog”, “Web”, “Discussions”, etc. This is not 100% right because I always find some blog posts in “News” session. For forum discussion, Google Alerts will show how many authors and posts are contained, which is useful. (My older posts about Jeep’s monitoring plan had a screen shot about this feature) If you find 50 people are discussing this topic, won’t you be intrigued to take a look and join this conversation about your brand?

When it comes to negative news, I’m trying two methods on Google Alerts:

  1. Quickly browse the alert email every day. This is a serious work and it can be very frustrating. It’s like examining a jungle leaf by leaf (I am curious if the real pros have to do this too).
  2. The other way is to use some keywords like “problems” or “complaints” combined with the brand name (e.g. Jeep AND complaints). This is just my own experiment. Judging from the results, I still collect a lot of “noise”.

Despite all kinds of tools derived from Twitter, I still find Twitter Search useful. It’s easy to use but not simple functioned. Click “Advanced Search”, you will get to set up all the search criteria you need: time period, location, attitude (sentiment), people, containing links, etc. Twitter also shows you how to use search operators. You can save the query by subscribing it on RSS. Besides, Twitter Search has real time updating function. I think this can be used in live tweeting, special events, or crisis management.

Twitter Search’s sentiment is very simple. As long as it contains a smiley face, it’s positive. Ugh… I’m not sure whether this is clever or too simplistic. Obviously, if I don’t put a “:(” in my tweets, you can’t find my negative voice.

Apart from the above two, I also use the famous Hoot Suite because it’s easy to manage multiple streams.

2. Assorted Twitter Tools for Efficiency

I know there are lots of tools for Twitter monitoring; I just don’t know there are THAT many. Check the Twitterverse and you will be fascinated.

Here are some of the tools I have tried to collect negative voices on social media.

This is a simple and fast way to find out tweets in three attitudinal groups: positive, neutral, and negative. The only feature I like about this site is rapidity. It allows you quickly browse the potential bombs and jump into the conversation. However, due to its algorithm, some of the negative tweets don’t really make sense.

This is a well-rounded and well-known social search platform. It collects more than tweets. Social mention marks the source site of every search piece. The sentiment algorithm is unknown and complex, but seems to work fine.

Like Twitrratr, Tweet Feel also offers simple sentiment monitoring. Differently, Tweet Feel is real time. I typed in “AllStar” because it’s the AllStar Night, and the result was updated quickly. Tweet Feel doesn’t have “netural” tweets, and somehow the results were less neutral. Maybe it has filtered some bland tweets.

Twitter Sentiment counts negative and positive tweets, but it does show every tweet about your search. The link on every tweet only leads you to the twitter account, which may cost more time to find the conversation.

3. Find influential sites in your area

The third way I’m trying is to dig into the specialized area and find sites that nurture community. For automobiles, this could mean fan clubs, forums, car review sites, etc. For example, AboutAutomobile has a very organized session to show consumer complaints about different car models. I also use Board Tracker to look into conversations on discussion boards.

Have I gone too far and too detailed? I don’t know. All I am doing is to learn and explore in this jungle. Monitoring can be tedious and frustrating, especially when you try to find the “bombs”.  However, it can also be rewarding and exciting when you see so many people are talking about your brand, especially when they are positive.

Call me a conservative, but I would still say: better safe than sorry. What we need to do is to find a mix of monitoring strategies and make them fit into our daily routine. After all, to survive in the social media jungle, you have to learn how to listen.

Image Credit: Twitter Bomb by GraphicLeftovers; Fear face by gordonisimo

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