Sentiment Vs. Engagement in Online Listening

After using some social media listening platforms, it’s become clear that vendors are moving on a path where the ability to measure the sentiment of posts is seen in high regard by clients. Clients definitely want to know things like “Do they like our product?” and “Did they like our launch?”, but there’s not enough emphasis being placed on the value of engagement, and not enough emphasis by the tool developers into the possible insights extractable from engagement information. In two tools that I use, engagement information is only limited to a score from 1-10…

I’m absolutely certain we can do more with engagement than that!

Why Engagement is Under-Emphasized

  • Reasons for why engagement is more important than reasons for sentiment.
  • Unlike sentiment, engagement doesn’t include the people who are just “talking about” something, because you can be an outsider and talk about a brand, but insiders engage.
    • Though on the flip side, doesn’t having a measure of your wider reach act as a positive? You can understand the viewpoints of your yet-to-be customers.
  • Engagement provides leverage. what does sentiment provide?
  • A post with high sentiment might go completely un-noticed, but something with high engagement, by definition means more activity and visibility.
  • What should these be though of as? Answers? Signs? Opportunities?

Engagement and Sentiment From a Strategic Perspective

  • Under what conditions is it possible to integrate sentiment or engagement with strategic plans or decision making?
  • What kind of questions can you answer with engagement vs. sentiment?
  • Does one give insight into the other?
  • What makes the news?
    • -1.5 million people don’t like your product (not news worthy)
    • 1.5 millions people watch a particular video on YouTube (makes the media, seen as a social media success story)
  • While doing social media listening, we have to deal with a lot of noise and spam, but it seems to me like engagement as it is the result of social activity, is less likely to be spammed. It might be gamed, orchestrated, or it could be flame wars, but it can’t blatantly spammed.
  • What better identifies trends and the market opportunities that exist?
  • How well can we connect engagement or sentiment with business drivers like sales?
  • In some parts of the business it might make a lot more sense to equate sentiment with business metrics, e.g. high sentiment surrounding customer service, while a metric like engagement might not make sense in the same situation.
  • Sentiment only tells you what you already knew (a bad product is disliked), but you get things like magnitude
  • Engagement is an influencer -> more engagement something gets, the more it influences.
  • We can do segmentation with each metric and yes, find cool info, but what data set gives us the possibility for insights as well?
  • With engagement we can identify insights like measure different posts/products engagement over different networks (it’s tendency to be shared), and useful metrics for out reach such as best time to engage with users (when they are in a mood most likely to share and engage with you)

Either or?

  • Should these 2 compete against each other? Of course not.
  • Each metric, through segmentation, can provide some interesting perspectives on the data.
  • But where could we drive more insight?

Engagement Spreads

  • Sentiment stops once it’s created, but engagement is infused with many different properties, depending on the channel.
  • A post from an engagement perspective gets: voted, includes links, gets shared, generated by users.
  • Sentiment, look across messages at pos/neg…. but 90% neutral
  • Engagement is a quality that is infused with content and actions. It’s bits are infused with everything.
  • Posting to twitter with links = sharing
    • Here we see a simple action + a quality of engagement, create a new action of engagement.
    • Engagement patterns and behaviour analysis is possible
    • These two are simple and insightful qualities of measuring engagement
  • Posts on the same channel, combined with different qualities of engagement opens the possibility for the same channel to contain different types of “engagement actions”
    • Examples with Twitter:
      • Broadcast messaging (normal)
      • Sharing links and information
      • Promoting topics (hash-tags)
      • Chatting, and creating associations (@ replies)
  • Engagement is easier to measure, and we can piece together connections and actions better with engagement from across the web
  • It would be almost impossible to measure the resulting effects of a negative sentiment post on others (but you can track the sharing of engagement.
  • Engagement is something. Things that are something – online – can be tracked, analyzed, recorded, segmented.

Engagement and Sentiment As Methods

  • While not only are engagement and sentiment the result of actions (interesting blog posts, hateful statements), because of the systems that have been created online (Twitter, Digg), there is now almost a system to create content that recieceves high engagement or sentiment.
  • Systems (Digg, Twitter, Reddit) have of created new structures, and in effect, rules for engagement.
  • Engagement stops being only a property of things, but it now becomes a method of production.
  • So on a bit of an aside from the discussion of engagement vs sentiment, we should also pay attention to the strategies of creating the two.
  • If low sentiment = low engagement then:
    • What creates high engagement?
  • Engagement, Influence, & Sentiment
    • Are these the three pillars/fundamentals?
    • If there is a method and way to create engagement or sentiment, what are the qualities needed, or what is the process to come up with that?

Again, this post reveals some of the raw thoughts I’ve been coming up with around this idea. But in this case the breadth of possible angles is so broad that the point form method seemed like the best way of communicating it all.


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