Archive for December, 2009


A Few of Our Favorite Charities

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Any time of the year is a good time of the year to remember those who are less fortunate. If you’re wondering who your fellow socialites are supporting, this word cloud has identified which charities are top of mind for social networkers.

The Red Cross and United Way are definitely top of mind right now, as they are most of the year. Their global recognition and accountability make them solid choices. A number of smaller charities are also top of mind, including the Ronald McDonald House Charity, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Toys for Tots. Smaller charities are often forgotten along the way even though they too are doing fabulous work.

Whether large or small, it doesn’t matter what charity you choose to support. Just choose one that’s close to your heart.


The Pains and Gains of Christmas Shopping

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

It’s down to the crunch now! For many people,  this is the time to regret leaving the Christmas shopping to the last few days. It’s the time to wonder if you remembered all of the people who made your little piece of the world that much better. Christmas shopping is a stressful but important component of the year.  Let’s take a look at what is top of mind for folks who shared their Christmas shopping experiences online.

First and foremost, there are the dreaded annoyances that come with trying to shop at the same time as millions of other people. It’s a story of shopper against crowd, against lines, against lack of parking.  What brings out the rants for social networkers the most? Why, it’s the crowding, of course, which takes up 64% of annoyance conversations. After that, parking and checkout lines each take up about 17% of the annoyances.


But, Christmas shopping isn’t all bad. It’s also the time of year to put peace and family ahead of crowds and lines and parking. Among all the wonderful things that come along with Christmas shopping, happiness comes up 44% of the time, very closely followed by anticipation with 41% of the positive conversations. It also seems that a little bit of courage is required to keep up with the season!


Whether you participate in the Christmas shopping tradition, may the spirit of the season keep you warm and blessed.

The Jays Say Goodbye To Halladay

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Since early September 2009, sentiment towards baseball in the social media world has been slowly increasing. Sentiment towards the Toronto Blue Jays and Major League Baseball (MLB) has been fairly similar, with the MLB pulling slightly ahead for the most part.

Sentiment towards Roy Halladay, a pitcher for the Blue Jays, had been a bit lower compared to discussions of baseball in general but, at the end of October, the announcement that he may not be returning to the Jays caused some commotion. In fact, Halladay’s sentiment increased as people became excited discussing which team he might join. But, emotions returned to normal in just a couple of weeks.

The big news, however, was Thursday’s official announcement that the Blue Jays will be saying good-bye to one of their much loved heros. After weeks of negotiations, Roy Halladay confirmed he will be moving on to join the Philadelphia Phillies. And that is where you see in the chart that sentiment towards Halladay has just started to pick up again. On the other hand, sentiment towards the Jays didn’t show much change as people were unsure about the three new players the Jays would be getting in return.

Only time will tell whether the social media world thinks this was a good decision.

jays timeline

A Formula for Perfect Sentiment Analysis

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

0% Humor
+ 0% Sarcasm
+ 0% Emoticons
+ 0% SpellingErrors
+ 0% Misattributions
+ 0% TextMessaging
+ 100%GrammaticalClarity
= 100% Perfect Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis has been around in one form or another for many years. In a traditional sense, market researchers have been using it to better understand consumer preferences as expressed through survey responses. For example, every survey where you’ve written something in the “Other” box has ended up on someone’s desk who’s job it was to interpret the message you wrote. Not just the messages that were clear and carefully written, but every single message. Given that any one survey probably had only about 300 verbatims that needed analysis, it was a doable job for a person.You would think that they would interpret every single message correctly.

According to many  scientific studies carried out in a variety of academic organization, 80% to 85% is as accurate as human beings can get when they manually interpret words written by other people. Surprised? Well, if you think about all the components underlying your messages, the humor that only you and friends laugh at, the references that only you and your spouse know, the emoticons that you saw someone else use and now misuse yourself, your horrible spelling and grammar, it is indeed a wonder that people are able to get 80% of the interpretations correct.

Fast forward to today, now, where years of dedicated, scholarly activity have resulted in automated sentiment analysis processes that demonstrate a level of quality and validity that researchers are happy with. It’s not perfect nor is it quite as accurate as manual scoring by people, but it does a really good job. Now also fast forward to a point in time where the quantity of data is not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of data points from millions of sources in millions of formats.  Now is the time to join opportunity and ability. The sheer quantity of data that can be analyzed vastly outweighs small decreases in validity associated with automated systems. Fortunately for us, millions of data points plus comprehensive sentiment analysis systems means stable, valid, and meaningful results.

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… and A Year of Highs for 2009.

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Yesterday, we had a look at some of the lows of 2009. Let’s cheer things up a bit by looking at a few of the highs. For your viewing pleasures, we have charted a number of celebrities who have received lots of praise in the social media space over the last year. Lady Gaga’s unique personality and fashion choices have proved to work for her as evidenced by her ongoing improvement in sentiment. CD sales will be sure to follow. Manny Pacquiao, or PacMan as he is fondly called, also had a great year from the consumer point of view, having won a bazillion boxing matches and potentially being the best boxer in the world. Robert Pattinson, associated with the New Moon movie, obviously had a great year and benefited from the success of the movie.

But here’s the most interesting part. Captain Sully, the nation’s hero who saved more than one hundred and fifty lives by landing his airplane on the Hudson river, didn’t lead the pack. He may not be, and may not even want to be a huge celebrity, but he made the chart with his bravery and broke into the celebrity world. How nice to have a positive role model in 2009!

highs of 2009

2009 Was A Year of Lows…

Monday, December 14th, 2009

2009 has been quite a year of highs and lows. Today, let’s have a look at just a few of the lows.

Many celebrities had their lives hashed out in the media and at the water cooler. Perceptions of Chris Brown started the year on a high but quickly fell after accusations of a physical altercation with his girlfriend. Perceptions of him improved very slowly over the year but still have not reached pre-incident levels. Jon Gosselin, of Jon and Kate fame, also started on a high and barely even registered online until May of 2009. At that point, people’s perceptions of him plummeted when it was reported he may have had an affair. Perceptions of Jon have continued to drop since that time. Kanye West experienced his drop in sentiment after some rude behavior at the VMA awards. But, he has since made a moderate recovery. The newest unfortunate scandal of the year belongs to Tiger Woods whose seemingly never ending incidents have not permitted perceptions of him to level off nor improve.

Based purely on perceptions, the social media world has created a scandal hierarchy ranging from being rude, to having an affair, to causing injury, to the ultimate low of having an affair when children are visibly involved. Recovery from such scandals can take months or years during which time ticket sales, CD sales, and  endorsement opportunities are negatively affected. These incidents have caused a number of companies to re-think who they feel best reflects their products and to cancel or not renew celebrity relationships.

It’s been quite a year of lows. Let’s cheer things up a bit in our next blog, as we celebrate some of the highs of 2009.


Is MTV’s Jersey Shore a Terrific Trainwreck?

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Jersey Shore is a new show focusing on a subculture that rarely takes the limelight on television, one populated by extreme personalities who call themselves guidos and guidettes. It has received a lot of heat for being offensive and racist towards Italian people. Some sponsors, such as Dominos Pizza and American Family Insurance, have pulled their ads from the show because of the controversy. In fact, UNICO National protested the show but this did not have an effect. On the other hand, some companies such as, a background checking service, have decided that Jersey Shore does in fact represent their brand and have  since become sponsors.

What do tweeple think of all of this? As the blue line in the chart below shows, the volume of chatter has steadily increased since the show previewed on television. Given the controversy surrounding this show, the volume of chatter will no doubt continue to increase.

What is particularly interesting is the sentiment trend. For the week before the show premiered, tweeple shared a range of opinions about the show resulting in fewer than 50% of opinions being positive. However, most recently, and after the show has aired, sentiment drastically increased and currently sits at more than 80% positive. It seems that the initial fears of racism were outweighed by the many people who seem to enjoy the peculiarities of the characters portrayed on the show. Time will tell how other sponsors react as the show increases its audience base, and more people are exposed to the controversy.


Zhu Zhus Zip Away

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Years past saw Cabbage Patch Kids (adults will remember), Tickle Me Elmos (adults’ kids will remember), and other hot toys tempt the imagination and money of millions of people. This year is no different with Zhu Zhu pets, the electronic hamster that promises all of the fun without the mess, becoming the Toy of the Year. The toys were on people’s minds for a while, but as the chart shows, it wasn’t until early November that chatter volume broke through the noise and registered a blip in the Twitter stream. This blip reoccurred in the middle of November when the toys began to run out and consumers were attempting to find locations where they could still purchase the toy.

Despite the ups and downs in the volume of chatter, sentiment towards these toys has been near perfect reaching almost 100% positive every single week for a couple of months now. The low price-point is no doubt a major factor for their popularity in this economy. Notice, however, that just recently, sentiment has started to decline. This is likely the results of two factors.

  1. The toys have sold out nearly everywhere and consumers are expressing their dissatisfaction with being unable to purchase them.
  2. Concerns have just been raised that the toys may be recalled due to health issues.

We will be certain to track how sentiment changes as more is learned about whether there is a potential hazard. Stay tuned!


Obama’s War in Afghanistan

Friday, December 4th, 2009

The war in Afghanistan is being called Barack Obama’s Vietnam, with many ups and downs over the last couple of months. We took a look at what tweeple were saying when they referenced both Obama and the war in Afghanistan. The chart reveals a few interesting things.

  1. Over the last three months, positive sentiments towards Obama and the war have been increasing. This suggests that people who are chatting on Twitter are feeling more positive about how he is dealing with this crisis.
  2. A large blip in chatter volume occurred at the end of September and the start of October when controversy erupted over whether Obama should take a trip to Denmark to support the Chicago Olympic bid. Clearly, the fact that something as trivial as sports was getting more attention than something as serious as a war caused outrage for many, particularly when the Chicago bid failed.
  3. The recent announcement that Obama would be sending thousands more troops into Afghanistan created another increase in volume accompanied by a decrease in satisfaction. Both pro and anti-war tweeple could express both outrage and approval with the combined message of sending additional troops and giving a timeframe for ending the war.

obama timeline 2

Even when the discussion is specifically focused on Afghanistan, other countries remain top of mind. Iraq leads the list representing 34% of discussions about other countries, and this is obviously because of the war occurring there. Pakistan follows with 25% of the mentions particularly in relation to stability of the region. In contrast, Vietnam has the third largest share of conversation with 16% due mostly to discussions about whether Afghanistan is “Obama’s Vietnam.”

obama countries

Obama is dealing with far more issues than just the war in Afghanistan, each of which is just as serious. So stay tuned as TweetFeel continues to track the sentiment of tweeple about Obama’s performance.

Tiger Crashes and Burns

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Well, not literally, but Tiger Woods did crash his car and he is getting burned! But what do real folks think of the whole situation? The volume of tweets related to Tiger had been relatively low prior to November 27 at which time it registered a 9000% increase. Even now, several days later, the spike remains, though only about 4000% higher. If that’s not statistically significant, we don’t know what is!

Sentiment showed a similar significant change as a result of the incident. Sentiment was hovering around 100% positive until November 27 at which point it suddenly dropped when people learned about the accident and became concerned for his well-being. Now, instead of nearly 100% approval, Tiger is dealing with an approval rating of about 60%. And that’s a big drop for someone whose income depends on consumer approval.

tiger sentiment

But as we all know now, it wasn’t simply his well-being that peaked our interest and kept us going. On day 1 after the incident, 92% of the chatter was focused on the car crash or accident. This quickly transitioned, however, such that by day 4, just 43% of tweets were about the car crash and 57% were about a supposed extramarital affair, perhaps the transgression that Tiger today announced he was regretful for. One can only wonder how will this impact his marketability.

tiger day 1tiger day 4

The lighter side of this whole incident though, is that the drama brought us a fantastic set of new jokes. Here are just a few of our favorites. Enjoy!

  • Police say Tiger Woods injuries are not serious, however he is feeling a little under par
  • Maybe Tiger Woods should change his name to ‘Cheetah’ Woods
  • What’s the difference between a Titleist and a Cadillac?? Tiger Woods can drive a Titleist 400 yards without hitting a tree
  • What’s the difference between a car and a golf ball? Tiger Woods can drive a ball 400 yards.
  • Tiger Woods is so rich that he owns lots of expensive cars. Now he has a hole in one.
  • Hollywood is making a film based on this incident: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Hydrant