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Sentiment Analysis 101

2010/04/18

NextStage: Predictive Intelligence, Persuasion Engineering, Interactive Analytics and Behavioral Metrics I was talking with a fellow who’d been to the NextStage Evolution site, looked around, saw the NextStage Sentiment Analysis Tool but didn’t understand what it was for.

I asked “Do you know what Sentiment Analysis is?”

He’d never heard the term before. Had no idea what it was or meant.

Well…okay…here goes…

What is Sentiment Analysis?

The dictionary definition of sentiment is:

  1. Tender, romantic, or nostalgic feeling or emotion
  2. A personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty

Sentiment is a synonym for things like opinion, persuasion, thought, perception and view.

Sentiment Analysis is along the lines of that second dictionary definition and, for the purposes of this discussion, should be considered kith&kin to “opinion” and “perception”.

For example, say you read something published in a blog or maybe a bunch of Tweets or on FaceBook, something like that.

Chances are you have a response to it, some kind of reaction. That reaction is your opinion about what you’ve read, it’s a personal belief or judgement that is not founded on proof or certainty. It’s really your perception about the validity, the truth, the meaning of what you’ve read.

Why it’s not called Opinion Analysis or Perception Analysis I don’t know, but there you go.

Companies these days are very concerned about your opinion of them, your perception of them. If you’ve ever heard “Perception is everything” then think of that statement on steroids due to the internet. Opinions and perceptions of companies, products, people can change in a second due to things completely out of a company’s control, so knowing what people’s perceptions, opinions and sentiment are from moment to moment is increasingly important in our increasingly online world.

So let’s go back to you reading something on the internet and having a response, a reaction, an opinion or perception of it, some sentiment towards it. Perhaps the response, reaction, opinion, perception or sentiment is “Yeah, so?” or maybe “Wow!” or “That’s crap!”. That sentiment usually gets transferred from what you’ve read to what you’re reading about. Somebody slams a company, your sentiment towards that company goes down. They praise a company, your sentiment goes up.

These “Yeah, so?”, “Wow!” and “That’s crap!” reactions can be thought of as “Neutral”, “Positive” and “Negative” respectively.

These three reactions can be cumulatively thought of as your sentiment towards what you’re reading.

And that’s what companies want to know, want analyzed, you’re sentiment towards them.

What do Sentiment Analysis Tools Do?

All companies save one offering sentiment analysis tools report this Neutral, Positive, Negative on a scale of -1 to +1. To the best of my knowledge that’s all they do, Positive, Neutral, Negative from -1 to +1. They take a long time to do this (it can be up to a week) and they charge anywhere from US$20,000 – $50,000 per analysis.

I wrote “All companies save one” in the above and that one is us, NextStage. The information I provided in the above comes from companies involved in the beta test of NextStage’s Sentiment Analysis tool. One user told me a social media measurement company came to them and did a pitch. The NSSA user asked if they did Sentiment Analysis. The company doing the pitch said they had a Sentiment Analysis tool but they didn’t recommend using their own tool because they themselves didn’t trust it.

Yeah…well…

How is NextStage’s Sentiment Analysis Tool Different?

For one thing, we trust our Sentiment Analysis tool. NextStage’s Sentiment Analysis tool — NSSA — has three flavors; Basic, Intermediate and Advanced, depending on your needs.

NextStage's Basic Sentiment Analysis ToolNSSA Basic reports the author’s attitude towards their material and/or audience – Positive, Neutral or Negative scaled from 0 to 100, and is most similar to the generic sentiment analysis reports provided by others.

NextStage's Intermediate Sentiment Analysis ToolNSSA Intermediate includes the above Basic information as well as four other items; the author’s 1) Confidence in their material, 2) Ability to “brand” their audience (to make the audience think about and remember the material), 3) Intent towards their audience (shown on the left) and 4) Belief they are an Influencer, GateKeeper or Hub towards their audience.

NextStage's Advanced Sentiment Analysis ToolNSSA Advanced includes the above Basic and Intermediate information as well as 1) the Ten Must Marketing Messages (shown on the left), 2) Trust that the audience will understand and respond to the material as desired, 3) Affinity (shared group identity) with the audience, 4) Author-Audience Rich Persona and 5) Viral Capacity (how far will the message spread). In addition, NSSA Advanced includes Suggestions for improving the material and an XLS of the report data.

Most NSSA analyses take less than 10 seconds to perform although some can take as long as 10 minutes. NSSA Basic costs US$9.99, NSSA Intermediate costs US$19.99 and NSSA Advanced costs US$39.99. How come our prices are so much lower than everybody else’s? Frankly I don’t know why others charge as much as they do. Our lower prices could be because our tool only takes minutes instead of days, are probably lower because our patented technology is based on different principles than other tools and is definitely lower because one of our beliefs is the right to information is the right to be free.

Or at least at a much lower cost.

We also offer trainings — US$49.99/participant for a webinar with a ten participant max — on the Intermediate and Advanced versions of NextStage Sentiment Analysis.

But Wait, There’s More!

NextStage’s Sentiment Analysis tool does indeed analyze webpages you feed it. It also analyzes files you want to publish before you publish them. Say you’ve written something and want to know how people will react and respond to it, what opinions and perceptions and sentiment they’ll have to what you’ve authored before it goes live.

Yep, NextStage’s Sentiment Analysis does that, too. Same reports, NSSA Advanced and it’s Suggestions, the only difference is that now it’s reporting on something you’ve authored before you publish it so you know how to modify it for best effect.

And It Has Other, Undocumented Uses…

Often products have “undocumented” features, things that the product does well but is not intended or purposed to do. Such is the case with NextStage Sentiment Analysis. Although NextStage will be releasing other tools that do what I’m about to suggest, until they go live here’s something you can have fun with.

I’ll explain with an anecdote:

A while back the Center for Adaptive Solutions (“CAS” and the owner of the Economy of Meanings blog) was the Center for Semantic Excellence. There was a shakeup in the organization. Five members went one way (the CAS), one member went another way and one member simply went away.

When NextStage was betaing its sentiment analysis tool I used it to analyze blog posts of the four members who became the CAS and the one member who went another way. I did this because some companies use ET (NextStage’s Evolution Technology, the core of all NextStage tools) in an HR capacity. We’re going to be offering an online HR tool, a “resume reader” in the next few months (and something we’ll be doing for a least one international organization by the time this post goes live).

But until NextStage’s Resume Reader and related tools go live, here’s a little fun&games with NextStage Tools.

The analysis of the four members’ writing is here:

Me: Cicero’s Constitutiones Analysis

David Morf: Oaks from Acorns Analysis

Tom Bigda-Peyton: Do Tactics Generate Strategy? Analysis

Richard Lent: Health Care? Watch Your Language! Analysis

What you need to appreciate is the general shapes of the charts, not necessarily the numbers. What you see are fairly consistent shapes. This consistency of shapes means the four people whose work is analyzed will generally work well together. They share a way of thinking, a way of communicating, a way of learning and doing that means they’ll get things done.

Here is a NextStage Sentiment Analysis of a blog post by the person who went another way: Resisting the Hive Mentality Analysis

The charts look different, some a little and some a lot. I have to admit that when I saw this, when I compared the results, it was totally obvious to me why four of the original members went one way, one member went another way, so on and so forth.

Almost makes you want to compare the charts of you and your business partners or you and your life-partner, doesn’t it?

Final note: this undocumented feature of NextStage’s Sentiment Analysis was mentioned in Writing Resumes for Automated Screening Tools – Resume Writing and Job Hunting, Part 2. Currently a major, international non-profit is using NSSA for a similar purpose — to determine what it needs to do to increase donations by amount, by segment and to increase segment size and number of segments.

RVMsmallfrontcover.jpgYou can follow me and my research on Twitter. I don’t twit often but when I do, it’s with gusto!

Have you read my latest book, Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History? It’s a whoppin’ good read and An Economy of Meaning readers get a 25% off the list price of all NextStage research by entering ECOMEAN1 when they purchase.

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