Guest post from Basir Syed, Product Marketing Manager, IBM Business Analytics
Follow Basir on Twitter: @basir5283
There is a German proverb that says, “The eyes believe themselves. The ears believe other people.”
Londoners are taking this proverb very serious. The London Eye (Ferris wheel), which is one of the most visited attractions of London and the spot where the New Year’s fireworks are sparked off each year, is transforming into a sentiment monitor.
With every Olympics, we get to see the splendor of each host nation. In 2008, China confirmed that it had an ability to stop rain, and now London is turning its busiest tourist attraction into a social media “mood ring,” a partnership between EDF Energy and a group of graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
They developed an intuitive algorithm that linguistically analyses tweets related to the Games. Tweets will be scanned for Olympic-relevant terms such as "Olympics," "Torch Relay," "London 2012," and EDF's own hashtag, "#energy2012."
This initiative rides on the social media wave that the Olympics might be star bursting. This is really cool, but having lived in London for almost a decade, and being involved in social media, I see large loop holes. Just a bit pessimistic, "init."
The Olympics represent an incredibly diverse environment – from races to languages to communities. So what are the details behind the analytics on the “Eye”? Is this algorithm going to track sentiment in languages other than English? Moreover, what are the details behind neutral or ambivalent sentiment?
Let’s look at a beautiful example of some noise: On Twitter, Mr. Hancox said that for Londoners, "It's as if someone else is throwing a party in our house, with a huge entry fee, and we're all locked in the basement."
How will the eye in the sky pick up that statement and how will fellow Londoners and the rest of the United Kingdom react?
I would have thought that Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, would have done this in a better way.
Well it comes down to basics, we all learn from our mistakes. So rather than just monitoring the buzz and view how we faired, we need to analyze this social data and take corrective measures to ensure that negative sentiment is minimal, keeping in in mind we can’t please everyone!
Take for example, RTL Nederland, a Dutch entertainment company that produces the “X Factor.” It analyzed the sentiment of more than 71,000 online conversations about the show to understand audience needs and preferences and, based on the online feedback, altered the show for the final episodes to increase viewer satisfaction.
In today’s business environment, no business can survive without analyzing all available data, including social media. A mega event like the Olympics is no different. Social analytics is therefore an understatement.
In the case of the London Eye and the Olympic organizers, I hope their ears are open and are really listening to the feedback so they can take appropriate actions to improve these games, or 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
For now, let's watch the sentiment on the wheel and then decide.