What’s the difference between a market analyst and a community manager? Surprisingly, not much. Sure, we may have a different set of degrees, but at the most basic level, we’re attempting to better understand how customers consume and process information. As a community manager attending a sentiment analytics conference, it’s fascinating to hear the same types of information being presented as if I were at a a conference focused on social media marketing or customer experience management.

Listen, Engage, Measure, Learn

It wasn’t always like this, I imagine, but as social and digital media becomes more pervasive across industries, learning, listening, measuring and engaging are becoming a universal skill set. The audience was asked to indicate which among these skills is our biggest challenge and where are we focusing most of our time. Not surprisingly, most are struggling to learn from their community, but are spending most of their time measuring.

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A slide presented by Chris Frank, American Express, and Paul Magnone, Openet Telecom about Emotional Vs. Rational in Customer Decision Making

For hard scientists, using data analytics to understand the emotional influences of customers may seem hippy-dippy, but for social scientists, it’s a dream come true. Being able to quantify human emotions helps us persuade academics that understanding how customers think, feel and act can drive business decisions. It doesn’t sound radical, but it’s an approach that has plagued marketers for some time. As a community manager, it’s often hard to sell a business model built around personal interactions and engagement.

Designing Effective Customer Experiences With Data

To care about customer sentiment means you need to focus on the experience at every customer touch point. Whether you’re a nonprofit or a retail brand, wherever your user goes it’s essential to collect information about their experiences so the experience can be continually improved as relates to your brand.  

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A slide presented by Banafsheh Ghassemi, American Red Cross about Multi-Channel Proposition: Customer Sentiment and (Much) More

Of course, this is still an intelligence conference designed to give life to your analytics. For every mention of emotion, behavioral science or cultural significance, there are many slides dedicated toward quantifying this type of data, which is a sound reminder that designing effective customer experiences can’t be done by relying solely on emoticons or hashtags. No, it will need to be compiled, measured and analyzed so it can help organizations make better decisions and understand evolving changes.