Sentiment analysis is a process that tries to determine the attitude of a speaker or a writer with respect to the topic they're writing about. If you actually read a blog or posting, you can tell the writer's sentiment immediately, but this analysis method tries to define and measure it as points of data.
Cluster analysis tries to analyze how certain words are gathering (or “clustering”) relative to a search topic. It finds the words that are mostly likely to be associated with your search word, which may provide unexpected insight into what’s being said about you and even predict sales before they happen.
Semantic analysis is another measurement tool that strives to understand what words mean in context to one another. Once again, it's something that we do for ourselves as we read, but this tool puts a number to it.
All of these tools are trying to measure what we can immediately see for ourselves empirically by just wading into the social media pool. They put a number to something that we can feel.
New measurement platforms like Sysomos and Radian6 are said to be using these tools to provide a more precise look at how you or your brand integrates with the social world.
If you need data for a meeting, to sway an investor, or appease a boss, these tools are important. If you're a marketer on a very high level, you might find the data immediately useful. If you're a band or artist just trying to make the next sale, the next gig, or make it through the next day of social media management, you'll find them interesting as best and parlor tricks at worst. But while these tools may be cutting edge today, you never know if they'll be an essential part of your marketing toolbox tomorrow. Stay tuned.
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