Sunday, 5 October 2008

Brandwatch Social media sentiment analysis for 'Gordon Brown'

Social media monitoring and sentiment tracking is becoming more important for brands. Anyone can publish anything now and if a citizen journalist mistakenly declares that your CEO has had a heart attack (Apple's share price tanked before climbing back up) or a random reporter mistakenly informs Bloomberg that you are going into bankruptcy (United Airlines company value dropped by $1bn), then you need to know quickly and respond accordingly.

Social media tracking is also gaining in importance in political circles too. Traditional opinion polls give a gauge on public voting intentions, but they only show what voters are thinking and assume that all canvassed opinions are equal.

In depth focus groups give more insight, but by nature are difficult to scale and it's hard to map opinion from these onto the general population.

Using social media tracking tools can give a more complete view, because they can analyse what potential voters are actually saying and can be used to analyse the influence that each voiced opinion has. It is also possible to analyse what particular policies or speeches are driving positive / negative sentiment and ideas and image can be manipulated accordingly.

Vanessa has emailed me some top line social media stats on 'Gordon Brown'. Using Brandwatch social media analysis she has looked at how the online community have been reacting to Gordon Brown over the last 2 weeks.

The first thing that Brandwatch analysed was the online reaction to Gordon Brown's Labour Party conference speech. Interestingly they contrasted the sentiment changes of official online news sources with sentiment changes in the blogosphere:
This analysis shows that Gordon Brown's conference speech was well received by online news sites with positive sentiment around 'Gordon Brown' increasing from 36% to 44%, neutral sentiment decreasing and negative sentiment remaining static. The reverse was true in the blogosphere with positive sentiment remaining static, but negative sentiment increasing from 22% to 29% - an interesting disparity between professional opinion and UGC opinion.
One week on and the same Brandwatch analysis shows negative sentiment around 'Gordon Brown' increasing. Online news media moved from 13% negative sentiment to 33% negative sentiment and negative sentiment for 'Gordon Brown' has increased from 29% to 49% in the blogosphere.

This Brandwatch data gives some interesting soundbites and shows the difference between online news and the blogosphere, but these figures should only be seen as a starting point. To really draw any conclusions the Brandwatch data needs to be analysed further:

- Volume of posts analysed is different at each point so it's important to consider how this affects results
- What are the sources? Is it across the whole blogosphere (where conservatives tend to be more active) or is it just across Labour supporting blogs?
- Is there an opinion weighting factor? (Based on links and audience, are some opinions given more credit than others?)
- Are the news sources UK only or global?
- What is the context of the sentiment? Is it around personality, policy or events?
- Is there one particular thing driving positive / negative sentiment or is this an average across all mentions?
- Competitive context is also very important (and perhaps the most important factor.) Is this good or bad vs David Cameron / Nick Clegg etc?

When you start properly diving into the data then it should be possible to pinpoint some interesting themes and formulating action plans - should policy be revisited? Are there particular journalists or bloggers that should be engaged more positively? Etc

The top line Brandwatch information is an indicator and a way into political social media analysis, but it shouldn't be used in isolation without considering all of the factors around it / looking at the wider picture. The most interesting way of using the 'Gordon Brown' social data would be to drill down into specific areas, then track sentiment over time (including competitors), map the social media data onto traditional opinion poll results and analyse how events or announcements changed both social media sentiment and overall opinion.

Interesting area and one that has the potential to significantly change how political opinion and voter intention is tracked and measured in the UK.

Related posts
Sarah Palin Facebook New Lexicon analysis of sentiment and context
Gordon Brown Wordle tag cloud for Labour Party Conference speech
Gordon Brown conference speech live blogging and Twitter

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