The term sentiment analysis refers to the process of gathering data relating to the various emotions expressed by users towards a specific target of products, services, social media posts, brands or people. Such reactions are fundamental in determining the online reputation of any element subject to analysis and they are of immense value during the planning phase of marketing strategies.
How data is gathered for sentiment analysis
The gathering of data for sentiment analysis is carried out via the extraction of opinions regarding services, products or brands expressed by users on the web. Remarks posted on social networks, the feelings expressed and even the language used are carefully analysed.
One example which provides countless data for online sentiment analysis are reviews. These blocks of text, often accompanied by a ranking system based on points or polarities (positive, negative or neutral), are widely used, especially by portals that sell products or offer services. Users’ feedback, in this case, is extremely clear and there are no equivocations.
Another source of large amounts of information is social networks. These communication networks which are now omnipresent in our daily lives, gather posts, comments, reactions, emojis and lots of other data which is easily intercepted and analysed by experts in that sector. This procedure is known as social media analysis.
Does sentiment analysis have any limits?
Before answering this question, it is advisable to distinguish between automated analysis and human analysis. Any human being who reads online comments and opinions is able to grasp the subtleties of the various expressions used, and thereby realise immediately whether the reaction is positive or negative.
By contrast, automated processes, which can be carried out via apps, programs or special tools, are based on algorithms which do not make allowances for language ambiguity. In other words, machines cannot recognise irony.
If, for example, a user posted a comment such as: ‘Brilliant! It’s raining and I didn’t bring my umbrella.’, a system based on logical calculations and unambiguous keywords would interpret the word ‘brilliant’ to be positive, but that of course would result in an error. This is why, in order to overcome such limitations and achieve more precise results, human supervision is still necessary.
Who sentiment analysis benefits
Data gained through web sentiment analysis can benefit all those companies who use the internet to promote their products, services or build their reputation (brand reputation). Public opinion holds enormous power in fact and can determine the success or failure of entire marketing campaigns.
In addition, this practice is frequently used in the world of politics, mainly for the purpose of calculating the electorate’s level of appreciation towards a specific candidate, a legislative proposal or an electoral policy.
Also in the communications sector, in fields such as cinema, television or the theatre, it is fundamental to keep track of the public’s reaction and the calculation of the ‘share’ achieved can be considered a precursor to sentiment analysis.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that anyone who wishes to remain competitive in their particular field can gain enormous advantages from listening to and analysing the opinions of their specific target expressed online.
Furthermore, the Sentiment observation of a specific individual enables their strong and weak points to be identified in real time, meaning that companies can intervene immediately to resolve any potential issues which may arise.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith