June 25, 2009

Measuring Commentary

Posted in Social Media at 9:22 am by R

One of the things I like most about reading the paper on-line are the comments at the bottom of the articles. It never ceases to amaze me the myriad opinions and wild positions people will take on the most innocuous news story!

Around here, in Arizona, you’re almost guaranteed that no matter what the news was about, someone will make a comment about illegal immigration. Doesn’t matter if it’s germane to the story … it just always manages to come up.

Many times I find myself laughing at the comments, people get pretty extreme when they know they are protected by the mask of Internet anonymity. When you read some of these people’s thoughts it’s obvious they say things just to rile others and garner more comments. It’s practically a sport!

So how do you accurately extract value out of the sometimes outlandish?

I’m likely to assess comments individually into categories:

  • Positive
  • Negative
  • Positive response to other commentary
  • Negative response to other commentary
  • Not relevant to topic

Allow me to explain my rationale:

  1. Positive — It’s clear cut and simple to assess and categorize these comments. Look for key words or phrases repeating here. Those phrases are ones your public identifies with and associates with your brand. Ask if you’re exemplifying them or if new, commonly used words have a place in your brand characteristics.
  2. Negative — Also clear cut and simple to categorize. Again, look for key words or phrases here to track a pattern of perception. Use these words as things you are NOT in your brand and strategize about how to counteract those perceptions through brand promises.
  3. Positive response to other commentary — Take note of when people respond to other people’s comments. Don’t simply list as “positive” because the thoughts expressed here may hinge upon ideas from the primary comment, not the news itself. Tracking positive conversation is equally as important as noting positive comments, but be sure to acknowledge what the impetus was — it might not be your news.
  4. Negative response to other commentary — This is where it can get heated. Many times this is where the conversation also gets off track and can become hard to measure. Clump all of these conversations together to look for common themes, descriptions of events or perceptions. Note whether or not the response to the comment was meant as a refute to a previous comment or whether it’s stated in agreement with previous comments.
  5. Not relevant to topic — Your story was on tips for making iced tea, their comment was about illegal immigration. If you can correlate the two, you’re more inventive than me. Keep these separate.

It’s still not a perfect process, but this means of categorization can show you trends both positive and negative that can help you refine future communications and evaluate how you’re executing on your brand promise.

~R

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