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Sentiment Analysis – A Window To The World’s Moods and Opinions

March 8, 2011

Technology and PR marketing is moving faster than many small businesses can keep up. At this moment last year we were debating health care reform, wondering if ‘smart phones’ were the norm, and trying to figure out what a QR code was. Today, we know that ‘smart phones’ are more than the norm, they are a necessity, health care reform is still a topic of debate, and QR codes are in every magazine and Sunday morning advertisement.


Marketing in Arizona has changed a great deal in the past year as well. Facebook and Twitter are no longer an additional marketing ploy; they are part of the entire marketing must-have package. Return On Investment (ROI) is no longer something to be placed on the backburner of social media marketing, it’s now become an industry all of its own. And part of that return on investment depends on how your brand is received by your target audience.

Brand marketing and ROI depends on the success of being able to reach your target audience on their level, in their language and slang, and on their favorite platforms. Truly understanding your audience involves sentiment analysis.

What is Sentiment Analysis and Opinion Mining?
According to Wikipedia, sentiment analysis or opinion mining refers to the application of natural language processing, computational linguistics, and text analytics to identify and extract subjective information in source materials.

Generally speaking, sentiment analysis aims to determine the attitude of a speaker or a writer with respect to some topic or the overall tonality of a document. The attitude may be his or her judgment or evaluation (see appraisal theory), affective state (that is to say, the emotional state of the author when writing), or the intended emotional communication (that is to say, the emotional effect the author wishes to have on the reader).

According to, sentiment analysis similar to text mining involves parsing and analyzing the comments and suggestions customers post on social media.  It concentrates on looking at the context, tone, emotion, polarity and objectivity of the comments rather than solely the words.

“Mirror, Mirror on the Wall”
Imagine having a secret mirror, one that could answer any question about the feelings associated with any brand, person, or industry in the world “Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all?” This is sentiment analysis. If you’ve ever read Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, you might remember the bit in the book when they speak of monitoring the feelings of the entire world from their computer. It’s not a far-fetched idea, and, in fact, many large news corporations and Wall Street companies have been using sentiment analysis to keep an eye on potential market trends.


Business Week recently published an article reviewing the importance of sentiment analysis for businesses of all sizes. MOBI stands for Mass Opinion Business Intelligence, and much like the computer (Watson) that beat the greatest contestants on Jeopardy based on its remarkable understanding of semantics and wordplay, MOBI part of an emerging technology that can tell a company almost instantaneously how people are feeling about a particular business, executive, product, stock, or advertising campaign.

With the ability to analyze consumer feelings without surveys and focus groups in invaluable to many companies around the world who can now determine how people will receive a product or idea before the product even hits stores. MOBI considers all conversations about a product and then parses it using statistical analysis and so-called natural language processing, a computer system designed to interpret written communications, even if slang is used. Beyond identifying how consumers feel about brands or celebrities, it can predict market behavior.