As I am putting together some notes on the role of Twitter to study sentiment, I come across an interview with Coca-Cola’s head of creative content for Asia-Pacific, Pratik Thakar, here.
At one point, Thakar says the following about social media as a source of consumer insight:
I believe that social media is a big focus group. It’s a good way to identify trends and what people are talking about—but not why they are talking.
However, he goes on to say that, in his view, negative statements are more valuable than positive ones:
When people say good things, you don’t just take it as it is. Someone might be asking them to say it; there might be some design mechanism working. But when people are unhappy, they go super-loud, and they are genuine at that time. If someone’s not happy with our packaging or communications, we immediately hear it, and that’s good because [the reaction] can’t be designed or manufactured. If someone says ‘I love Coke, it’s so nice’, I won’t take that as input. So we have to figure it out based on context. I think negativity is more genuine on social media than positivity.
I wrote before about the value of complaints and customer criticism (for instance, here). But I never considered this angle that customers might be more genuine when criticising a brand than when praising it. The value of sentiment analysis of Twitter conversations is quite limited, then. Not just for all the reasons that Yuvraj Padmanabhan and I discuss in this paper (open access), but also because some expressions of sentiment may be more genuine than others.
What do you think of Thakar’s comment?