Social Media Mentions: Do Negative-Seeming Words Harm You?

I was listening to an excellent Webinar last week with Jennifer Laycock of MarketMotive. Jennifer was discussing tools that measure positive and negative mentions of your brand in social media.

So I idly went over to SocialMention, and did a search for myself (ego is a wonderful thing!) And I found that there are more actively negative mentions of me than actively positive ones.

Why is this? My assistant has been sending out my article on “Leaky Boat Websites” and it’s been included in a number of places online. Trouble is that an automated tool like SocialMention can only follow the rules it’s designed with – and so it sees “leaky boat” and classifies those words as negative.

Of course, this is a problem with any automated tools – remember years ago when AOL decided to clean house, and closed down a breast cancer support group because their name included a “naughty word”?

So I’m asking myself: “Does this matter?” Is it really important to us to get a positive rating from sites like SocialMention? And if so, does that mean that we can’t write any online copy that’s positioned to say “we can fix your problems” because the “problem” words can trigger the negative scores?

1 Responses to “Social Media Mentions: Do Negative-Seeming Words Harm You?”


  • No, those words don’t harm you. A human who reads that title or a review of it isn’t going to interpret that as negative. It’s a mighty small segment of humanity that is using social media monitoring tools with sentiment, and they are a pretty discerning bunch, far too discerning and critical to accept that negative assessment without peeking under the hood.

    Sentiment analysis is a young field, and it isn’t perfect. But the state of the art is much better than what you seem to have in this case. A well-designed linguistic engine should not base sentiment assessments on titles, and you could make a good case that “leaky boat” shouldn’t be interpreted as negative sentiment. Are you certain that this is the reason for the negative assessment?

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