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Can You Feel Me Now?

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Not surprisingly, the latest big trend in communication (social media) has spawned the latest big trend in market research: sentiment analysis, the art/science of using Internet and social media chatter to gauge public feeling about a company. Consultants like Newssift, ScoutLabs, and Jodange use complex algorithms to scan keywords in remarks about corporations made on Twitter and Facebook, then categorize them as positive or negative via filters—the companies say they can even parse sarcasm, slang, and other linguistic nuances. Filters can sift through levels of positivity/negativity, intensity. Some can also identify more influential opinions from those social-media hubs and tastemakers. As the tech becomes increasingly sophisticated, it may become more prevalent in standard search engines or predict future developments like stock price fluctuations. Companies are interested in measure online opinion, of course, because the perception of the company or its products can have a strong effect on its chances for success. They've also used the approach to sort out technical or customer service glitches. More casual users who don't want to sink money into a professional system can tap simpler versions like Tweetfeel, Twendz, and Twitrratr for topic-based opinions. —Guest-blogger Susan Karlin

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