Written by: Garry Checki, Analytics Specialist
In the world of the “old school” or traditional media (television, print and radio), analytics is largely a numbers game. You quantify each market based on population, and each publication or airing has some financial or audience value assigned to it. But the world of social media analytics is a bit more ambiguous than its predecessors. What matters most in social media analytics is the engagement levels and overall sentiment of the audience you are trying to reach.
Social media engagement in its simplest form is the interaction between people and brands on social networks. Levels of engagement can be quantified across a multitude of social media channels through likes, shares, comments, retweets, video views and post views (just to name a few). The quantifiable results of engagement are essential to social media analytics. They provide a way to show a client that a certain campaign drove more people to the client’s social channels, increased followers and made more people aware of the client's latest developments.
While engagement is a cornerstone of social media analytics, it has its limitations. Engagement is sometimes referred to as “vanity metrics” or a superficial way to analyze social media data. This is because measuring engagement gives you a lot of quantifiable data, but is limited in its ability to go deeper and tell you exactly what these likes, comments or share are saying about your client's brand.
Where engagement lacks, sentiment analysis picks up the slack. Sentiment analysis, or “opinion mining” as it is sometimes referred to by analytics folks, is a measurement of the emotions, attitudes and opinions of those on social media. Sentiment measurement is done through language processing software, going beyond the numbers to sift through the positive, negative, sarcastic or ideological sentiment in comments. Sentiment analysis allows media measurement pros to provide a client with the emotional context of the engagement that is taking place across their social channels.
Engagement and sentiment analysis complement each other like peanut butter and jelly. Engagement provides you with quantifiable results and sentiment analysis puts these results into a larger emotional context to determine the attitude of those engaging with a brand. While both engagement and sentiment are fine by themselves, to understand and utilize their real value, you must combine them when making a sandwich...or in social media results reporting.