Sentiment Analysis and Social Media

In order for a company to grow successfully through a product or service, it is vital to understand the ideal customer. In the market research industry, some traditional techniques used gain this insight and knowledge include strategic surveys, focus groups and one-to-one interviews.

With the boom of social media in the early 2000, a multitude of new social media platforms created new data opportunities to gain valuable insight around a user needs, preferences and opinions about a product, service, brand, or organization.

First, let us define what is “sentiment analysis and social media.” Very simply, a sentiment is a feeling. Social media is a manner in which users can create and share content, or participate in networking online. Social media sentiment refers to the mood perceived in a social media post, engagement or interaction.

What is social media sentiment and what are the different types of analysis you can conduct? What are the drawbacks? We address it from all angles in this article.


Social Media Growth

According to a survey conducted with adults (18+) in the United States by Pew Research Center in 2018, the top used social media platforms were reported as YouTube (87%) and Facebook (80%). This is followed by Instagram (35%), Pinterest (29%), Snapchat (27%), LinkedIn (25%), Twitter (24%) and WhatsApp (22%). It was also found most adults in the United States participate on more than one social media platform.

As a country, the United States is evidently extremely social online. We post, we like, we comment, we share, we record and upload, we go live, we watch, we tweet and re-tweet, we snap, and we converse. All while sharing our preferences and opinions. For this reason, sentiment in social media becomes a market research and data analysis opportunity that previously was not easily available. A simple keyword in a search bar on a social media platform can unlock endless information on a topic, service or product.

Examples of Sentiment Analysis

Think about a local pizza place. They have the capability to type the name of their establishment in a search bar on a social media platform. They can read for hours, while reviewing topics like how many people have “checked-in,” look at pictures taken and shared of the pizza, and what people are saying about their slice.

What if you are a national soda brand? Your marketing budgets allow you to spend millions of dollars on social media campaigns. Although you are interested in search data, your team is more interested about how the new rebrand is being reacted to on social media. Through sentiment analysis, you can uncover moods and audience insights, monitor complaints and issues to help with customer service, and identify key influencers for a broader public relations outreach.

Social Media Sentiment Downside 1: Time

Now, of course, there are downsides to this method of conducting market data analysis: time and unspecified audience insight.

Time is a precious resource. Searching multiple platforms with multiple keywords can be immensely time consuming, and although valuable insight will be gained, it is not the best return on investment (ROI) for a company when an employee is spending hours upon hours conducting social media research, one platform and one keyword at a time.

The good news is, there are a wide variety of sentiment analysis tools available to save a company time and money, while still providing another level of understanding their consumer.

A few tools that can be used to identify social media sentiment include:

Hootsuite Insights

Hootsuite is a paid service and offers support for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest platforms. With Hootsuite Insights users can easily filter words and then sort by sentiment, emoji’s can even be included. The results are displayed with a meter, providing insight and the ability to monitor changes.


Rapidminer is a paid service that uses text mining to conduct sentiment analysis. Rapidminer pulls data from online and offline sources including reviews, social media posts, publications, and documents.

Twitter Advanced Search

Twitter Advanced Search is a free online tool that provides sentiment from Twitter. One would enter a desired keyword, check the negative or positive box, then “search.” Viola!

Social Media Sentiment Downside 2: Unspecified Contributor Insight

A key to successful marketing is understanding the consumer, but the term consumer is too broad and general for truly effective and beneficial market research. With advertising and marketing campaigns consumer needs to dig a level deeper. Your focus needs to include the ideal consumer and target market.

It’s helpful to use social media platforms to gather information about consumers, but what if those people posting, tweeting, recording, and commenting are not ideal customers from a company’s target market? It could result in unreliable information and ineffective efforts, where you are reporting on findings and reworking your strategy based on irrelevant feedback.

An ideal customer and target market refers to the group of consumers or professionals a product or service is directed to. If a company gauges an entire marketing campaign based solely on social media insight, it could be detrimental to the success of the product or service, because those insights and opinions are not a 100% reflection of the target market’s needs, preferences and opinions.

A professional market research company has the knowledge and capability to conduct more targeted and custom research, therefore, resulting in more targeted results. This can be accomplished through a simple Voice of Customer (VoC) survey.

In Summary

When it comes to market research, the more data you have about your ideal customer (positive and negative), the better. The boom of social media has expanded data analysis and big data to an all-time high. With over 80% of adults in the United States using social media, social media sentiment has become a valuable tool for market research. But it is not the end-all-be-all. Although tools do provide valuable data about a consumer, there is still no comparison to a market research study conducted by a professional research company.

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