+27 11 884 5041

Sentiment Analysis 101: More than just mining for opinions.

The world of media monitoring is rapidly changing thanks to AI. Businesses are spoilt for choice with new tools and technologies to help them reach their objectives. It is more important than ever to keep an eye on your competitor and stay ahead of the game. One fool-proof way of doing so is the use of sentiment analysis.   

Sentiment analysis refers to the process of using data mining, natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning techniques to determine the emotional tone or sentiment expressed in a piece of media content, such as news articles, social media posts, reviews, and comments.

These large amounts of data are sorted with the help of AI. Algorithms are employed to apply rule-based, automated, or a combination of methods for assigning scores to determine whether the customer is using words with positive connotations, negative connotations, or ones that are neutral.  

The goal of sentiment analysis is to classify the sentiment of the text as positive, negative, neutral, or sometimes more nuanced categories like “happy”, “angry”, “sad”, “excited”, and so on.   

The sentiment analysis process  

Media monitoring companies often use sentiment analysis to gain insights into public opinion, customer feedback, and brand perception. Here’s how it works:  

  • Text Collection: A wide range of textual data is gathered from various sources, such as news websites, social media platforms, blogs, forums, and even traditional media like newspapers and magazines. 


  • Preprocessing: The collected text data is preprocessed to remove noise, irrelevant information, and formatting issues. This step might involve tasks like tokenization, removing stopwords, and handling special characters. 


  • Sentiment Classification: The preprocessed text is then passed through a sentiment analysis model, typically trained using machine learning algorithms. These models have been trained on large datasets with labelled sentiments to learn the patterns associated with different sentiment categories. 


  • Sentiment Scoring: The model assigns a sentiment score or label to each piece of text. This score indicates the sentiment expressed in the text, which could be positive, negative, neutral, or a more specific sentiment category. 


  • Aggregation and Insights: The sentiment scores are aggregated over a period of time or across different sources to provide an overall sentiment trend. Media monitoring companies can then generate reports, visualizations, and dashboards that show how the sentiment around a particular topic, brand, or product is evolving.  


The challenges of sentiment analysis  

It’s important to note that while sentiment analysis has come a long way, it still faces challenges, particularly with understanding nuanced language, sarcasm, and cultural context. Let’s look at some of the key challenges:  

  1.  Subjectivity and Context: Sentiment can be highly subjective and context-dependent. A single phrase might have different sentiments based on the surrounding text. Understanding context accurately is a significant challenge, especially in cases of sarcasm, irony, or cultural nuances. 

  2. Sarcasm and Irony: Identifying sarcasm and irony requires a deep understanding of linguistic subtleties. For example, a sentence like “Great, another Monday!” is meant to be sarcastic and express a negative sentiment, even though the words that are used seem positive.

  3. Ambiguity: Text often contains ambiguous words or phrases that can be interpreted differently based on context. An automated system might struggle to distinguish between different interpretations, leading to inaccurate sentiment classification.
  4. Negation and Modifiers: Negation words (e.g., “not,” “no”) and modifiers can completely reverse the sentiment of a sentence. For example, “The movie wasn’t bad” is, in fact, a positive sentiment despite the presence of the word “bad.”

  5. Mixed Sentiments: Text can express multiple sentiments simultaneously. For instance, a review might contain both positive and negative opinions about different aspects of a product. Handling mixed sentiments accurately is challenging and requires a certain amount of interpretation. 

  6. Domain and Industry Specificity: Sentiment analysis models trained on one domain might not perform well on text from a different domain. For instance, a model trained in product reviews might struggle to understand sentiment in financial news. 

  7. Data Imbalance: Sentiment analysis datasets often suffer from class imbalance, where one sentiment class has significantly more examples than others. This can lead to biased models that perform well in the majority class but poorly in the minority classes. 
  8. Cultural and Language Variations: Different cultures and languages express sentiments differently. A model trained on English text might not perform as well on text from languages with different grammatical structures and sentiment expressions. 

  9. Data Noise: Social media and online platforms are rife with noise in the form of typos, slang, abbreviations, and emoticons. Such noise can confuse sentiment analysis models and lead to incorrect classifications. 

  10. Emotional Intensity and Nuances: Sentiments are not always binary (positive/negative) and can have varying degrees of intensity. Emotions can be complex and nuanced, making it challenging to accurately capture them in predefined sentiment categories. 

  11. Generalization: While sentiment analysis models can work well on straightforward text, they might struggle with new and creative expressions or emerging language trends that were not present in the training data. 


This is why it is important to use a hybrid approach that combines rule-based methods with machine learning, as well as models that can understand context and dependencies in text, to enhance sentiment analysis accuracy.  

Breaking down the different types of sentiment analysis  

There are different types of sentiment analysis that cater to various levels of complexity and granularity in understanding the sentiment and emotions expressed in text data, as well as the number of sentiment categories being considered. Common types of sentiment analysis include:  

  1.  Binary Sentiment Analysis: In binary sentiment analysis, text is classified into two broad sentiment categories: positive and negative. This is the simplest form of sentiment analysis and focuses on determining whether the sentiment expressed in the text is generally positive or negative.


  2. Three-Class Sentiment Analysis: This type involves classifying text into three sentiment categories: positive, negative, and neutral. In addition to identifying positive and negative sentiments, this approach also takes into account text that does not convey strong emotions or opinions.


  3. Multi-Class Sentiment Analysis: In multi-class sentiment analysis, text is classified into multiple sentiment categories, often including positive, negative, and neutral sentiments, as well as potentially more nuanced emotions such as “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” “excited,” and so on. This approach provides a more detailed understanding of the sentiment expressed in the text.


  4. Fine-Grained Sentiment Analysis: This type goes beyond simple positive/negative distinctions and aims to identify sentiment on a more nuanced scale. For instance, sentiment may be classified into multiple levels, such as very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, and very negative. This type of analysis works well for grading customer satisfaction surveys.


  5. Aspect-Based Sentiment Analysis: In this approach, sentiment analysis is performed not only on the entire text but also on specific aspects or features mentioned within the text. This is particularly useful for analyzing reviews or feedback about products, services, or experiences, as it helps to understand sentiment towards different attributes individually.


  6. Emotion Detection: Emotion detection focuses on identifying specific emotional states expressed in the text, such as happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and so on. While closely related to sentiment analysis, emotion detection is more concerned with recognizing emotions rather than just positive/negative sentiment.


  7. Sarcasm Detection: Sarcasm detection aims to identify instances of sarcasm in text, where the literal meaning of the words is different from the intended sarcastic sentiment. This is a more complex form of sentiment analysis that requires understanding the context and linguistic nuances.


  8. Intent Analysis: Intent analysis goes beyond sentiment to identify the intent behind a piece of text. It aims to understand whether the text expresses an intention to buy, complain, inquire, recommend, and so on, which can be useful for customer service and marketing strategies.  


The choice of which type to use depends on the specific goals of the analysis and the desired level of detail in extracting insights from the text. A brand or business can leverage sentiment analysis to gain valuable insights from customer feedback and public perception, ultimately leading to improvements in various aspects of its operations.   

How does sentiment analysis help organisations?  

Here are some ways in which sentiment analysis can be applied to enhance marketing and PR efforts:  

Reputation Management:  

Monitoring sentiment around the brand: By tracking sentiment on social media, review sites, and news outlets, businesses can identify both positive and negative sentiments related to their brand. This helps them gauge public perception and take actions to maintain or enhance their reputation.  

Customer Insights:  

Product feedback and improvement: Analyzing sentiment in customer reviews can highlight specific aspects of products or services that customers appreciate or find lacking. This information can guide product development and improvement efforts.  

Understanding pain points:

Identifying negative sentiment can reveal recurring customer complaints or issues. Addressing these pain points can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.  

Competitor Analysis:  

Benchmarking against competitors: Comparing sentiment scores with those of competitors can help a business understand its relative position in the market and identify areas where it might have a competitive advantage or disadvantage.  

Crisis Management:  

Early detection of issues: Monitoring sentiment in real-time enables businesses to detect negative sentiment spikes that might indicate the early stages of a crisis. This allows them to respond promptly and mitigate potential damage.  

Marketing and Advertising:  

Campaign effectiveness: Tracking sentiment around marketing campaigns can reveal how well they resonate with the target audience. Positive sentiment indicates success, while negative sentiment might suggest adjustments are needed.  

Influencer partnerships: Sentiment analysis can help identify potential influencers or partners who have a positive impact on brand sentiment.  

Customer Service:  

Sentiment-driven support: Analyzing sentiment in customer support interactions can help prioritize and categorize issues based on their severity and the sentiment expressed. Urgent or negative sentiment cases can receive more immediate attention.  

Identifying training needs:

Negative sentiment patterns in customer support conversations can highlight areas where support agents might need additional training.  

Product Launches and Campaigns:  

Pre-launch feedback: Before launching a new product or campaign, analyzing sentiment around teasers or announcements can provide insights into potential reception and allow for last-minute adjustments.  

Employee Engagement:  

Employee sentiment: Analyzing employee feedback and sentiment can help identify areas where improvements are needed in company culture, management practices, and internal communications.  

Market Research:  

Trend identification: Sentiment analysis can uncover emerging trends and shifts in consumer preferences, helping businesses adapt their offerings to meet changing demands.  

Supply Chain and Inventory Management:  

Demand forecasting: Analyzing sentiment around products can provide insights into shifts in demand, helping businesses adjust their inventory levels and supply chain operations accordingly.  

By analyzing sentiment across various touchpoints and interactions, businesses can gather actionable insights that inform decision-making, optimize processes, and foster stronger relationships with customers and stakeholders. It’s essential to integrate sentiment analysis into a comprehensive strategy that aligns with the overall goals of the business.  

Ornico is The All in One Brand Intelligence® solution built for marketing professionals first. Take control of all your brand needs with creative monitoring, media monitoring, ad spend measurement, creative evaluation analysis, reputation management, crisis and risk management and competition analysis – all in one place. Hello, Brand Intelligence®. Book a demo today 

Latest Updates