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Sentiment analysis - Mitigating the rise of cancel culture with AI media monitoring

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The current media landscape has permanently changed because of the pandemic. People are shopping, consuming, listening and conversing differently. Interactions online are more important than ever and play a key role in how we make sense of the world. 

Antony Cousins, CEO at Factmata, believes that, as brands look to build closer relationships with customers, tactics must change and strategies must get creative. The increase of brand boycotts' by Gen Z, coupled with the rise of cancel culture, means reclaiming control of narratives needs to be a top priority for brands.

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We are experiencing the beginnings of a new digital era, where online platforms are used as a key source of information. Brands are up against a new set of challenges. The continued rise of new platforms has led to an increased spread of misinformation, with millions of people being exposed within just a few clicks. 

Marketers are working even harder to monitor and manage the growing number of online opinions about their brand and products in an attempt to mitigate the rise of cancel culture, but missteps can have catastrophic consequences.

Online content has doubled

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Being active online has become part and parcel of everyday life for most people. According to a 2020 study, global online content consumption doubled that year, a surge attributable to lockdowns. Not only that, but reliance on platforms as information sources has grown with Data Reportal revealing  7 in 10 internet users go beyond search engines to find information.

More and more people trust brands to represent, inform and inspire them, in addition to consuming their products and services. Marketers are working overtime to monitor conversations and trends in their infancy to predict how they will grow over time, before turning into potential threats or opportunities which may not be related directly to their business, but the impact their business may have on society.

The volume and pace of misinformation have grown exponentially. From climate change, racism, immigration to the pandemic, harmful content has become more prominent, aggressive, and difficult to control. It’s become essential for marketers to be able to monitor more than sentiment across these issues, they need to monitor real intent, to get ahead of the growth curve.

The value of social listening

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Brands have had to drastically improve their social listening to keep up with what is shaping public opinion and how. Analysing sentiment to determine feelings towards a brand or topic is no longer as effective as it once was, nor sustainable. Context has always been important, but now more than ever, it’s driving the way we measure opinions.

Consumer intelligence is evolving. Brands are responsible for investing in media monitoring to improve how they understand their target audience and identify a crisis before it breaks. New models of measuring context are emerging for marketers as technology becomes more advanced and easy to deploy.

Stance analysis can account for the nuances in the language used, like geographic, political, and cultural influences. Stance using artificial intelligence can make sense of content in context, so brands can identify and predict real human intent. This is something that’s not possible with just sentiment analysis alone, which simply measures the use of positive, negative or neutral words.

There are many ways to express the same idea. People might be saying the same thing in different ways, using figurative language. Brands can harness the capabilities of stance analysis models to account for these changes where sentiment models would result in undefined or false conclusions.

Realising the power of artificial intelligence

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Challenges posed by the global pandemic and rapid digital transformation have highlighted the need for improved media monitoring. With the growth of online platforms and new forms of information showing no sign of slowing down, AI technology is crucial to brands’ ability to take control of their narratives

Artificial intelligence has the power to process millions of mentions in seconds. The time saved for marketers by avoiding manual data analysis can be reinvested elsewhere. Right now, marketers are missing out on the ability to interpret and monitor large pools of data, make sense of mass brand mentions and to identify harmful content before it goes viral and becomes a public relations crisis. 

Moving forward, marketers must become more aware of the opportunities modern technology and monitoring models present. Thinking creatively and strategically about how conversations are monitored online, will enable brands to gain enriched insights and stay ahead in the ever-competitive digital landscape.

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