Sentiment analysis (also called opinion mining or reputation management) is a fairly new technique that is being used by more and more companies as a way to gain insight into what customers and potential customers are saying and thinking about a brand or product.

Essentially, sentiment analysis consists of scanning various online locations, e.g. social media channels and review sites, to gather comments mentioning a particular product, brand, or service. Once this information is gathered, the comments are analyzed for word usage and choice, grammar, syntax, use of punctuation, and emoticons and other factors to try and determine the sentiment of the user, i.e. what they were thinking and feeling about the product at the time.

Of course, the best analysis tools are able to handle double negatives, sarcasm, humor and many other characteristics of human dialogue that are not obvious to machines.

When managed correctly, sentiment analysis can have tremendous commercial or political impact when determining customer response to a newly launched product or a marketing/advertising campaign. It can also indicate which version of a product is more popular and even which products and product features are most liked or disliked by members of a particular demographic group.

To get true value out of a sentiment analysis exercise, it is important to use the right sentiment analytics tool. Make sure that the sentiment analytics software you use to gather and analyze information is able to scan a wide range of platforms and websites, makes accurate assumptions, is stable and reliable, and supplies data quickly and in a usable format.

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