From the person we choose as president to the amount of groceries we buy next month, our emotions often drive our decisions. Today, marketers and others can read and interpret those emotions to predict things like how much of the household budget we might spend on entertainment and even the kinds of movies we are likely to see.
Monitoring these emotions is at the heart of a new kind of social business intelligence on the Web that uses a process similar to the way text analytics evaluates documents in your company's email and archives and on the Web. "Feelings -- even beyond mere positivity and negativity of Text Analytics 101 -- are pervasive and inform actions. Expressions of anxiety, calmness, and other sentiments present in social media can be extrapolated to predict people's behaviors -- things like spending and voting," as Joe Stanganelli, a marketing consultant and AllAnalytics.com community member, put it in an email interview.
Like few other technologies, social media gives marketers new clues to those emotional states with every tweet and every Facebook update -- clues they can then read and interpret with the tools of social BI.
"Sentiment analysis of social media is getting more sophisticated insofar as that it is now being leveraged to look for subtle cues instead of obvious statements," Stanganelli said.
Mining data on the "sentiments" of social media users goes far beyond simple brand or product preference.
"Someone's post on Facebook or Twitter about how much he or she loves a certain product -- while it does convey important information -- does not necessarily translate into that person buying more or less of that product. Today, sentiment analysis is looking at how a particular individual is feeling in general in his or her life, and how that relates to particularized events," Stanganelli explained.
For social media marketers, this approach represents a Holy Grail of sorts in that it gives them a glimpse of something far more important than which instant coffee the majority of social media users prefer.
"What this really gets down to is the organic nature of social media," Stanganelli said. "For years, marketers and analysts have yearned for technology that would allow them to know exactly what people (i.e., brand consumers) are thinking and doing at any given time in their own homes. Social media comes very close to offering that solution."
What deeper questions can social business intelligence answer that marketers might really need to know?
"If the sentiment of the general populace is more worried and anxious, most of them probably aren't planning on, say, buying a new car in the near future," Stanganelli explained.
What burning questions do you have about your business customers? Measuring their sentiments more accurately with social business intelligence may begin to give you the answers. They're thinking aloud via Facebook, Twitter, and perhaps other social media platforms every day for all to hear. With technologies available via social business intelligence, you now have the tools to listen.