I may have a different perspective on the importance of positive sentiment analysis because I've often been called "the ultimate positivist" by my friends and family. I'm the type of person who will try to find something positive, no matter how small it might be, out of a negative situation. I tend to believe that this has helped contribute to my having mostly positive engagement with the tens of thousands of business people I have engaged with over the last few years whether through social media conversations or social media speaking. The purpose of this post is now to convince you that being negative is just a plain old bad social media practice for your business.
Hopefully you don't need convincing, but as I wrote about in What is the Analysis of YOUR Social Media Presence?, I think that many people or brands don't realize that they may be giving out negative signals without them realizing it. As I mentioned in my post about creating a public LinkedIn persona (which is appropriate for any social media channel), unless you have met the person on the other side of the computer screen (or increasingly the case, the mobile device screen), the only way that they will judge you and your company is by the tweets or language that they see in front of them.
Here's a good analogy: When I recently called a major telecommunications carrier for customer support, the woman who answered the phone said, in a spritely voice, "I'd love to help you out. How has your day been so far?" This goes without saying is a best practice because this person is trying to both 1) make you feel better by being positive (I can help you) as well as create a human connection with you (how's your day?). How would you feel if they answered the phone in a negative way, which obviously only places greater distance between you and their brand?
Every time you are responding to someone or some content on social media, you are playing the role of that telephone operator.
And it bears repeating of what I think one of the great truths of social business is:
Negativity encourages distance between your brand and the public at large, customers or not. Activity with your social media community should be about fostering a positive experience.
I'm not a social media community manager specialist by any means, but I would imagine that the community manager for that brand faces the same issue everyday managing @mentions and Facebook Wall postings. You can't put a positive spin on all of your customer's negative experiences, but you can 1) listen and 2) respond and take the conversation offline.
The problem is that anytime you, whether from your personal account or representing your company, make any negative comments in social media conversations or on blog posts, YOU are representing the community management of YOU. The negative turns people away from you AND could turn people away from your business or the brand you represent because people want to have positive experiences. I've heard of motivational speakers to give you positive energy, but I've never heard there's a market for those who want their negative energy increased.
This leads me to believe that being positive, or wanting to have a positive experience, is something we all naturally strive for, and therefore is a necessity if you want your business to make a deeper connection with your community management of the public that are active in social media.
One thing that I see that those who dwell on the negative aspects of life might comment on after reading this: Just heaping praise on the writer will not satisfy anything except the ego of the person at the other end of the conversation. I'm not talking about praising something or someone that shouldn't be praised; on the contrary, I am talking about keeping any comment that is even slightly potentially negative off of social media, where it is for everyone to see and then draw a conclusion without having the opportunity to potentially meet you. Engaging in positive debate is one thing, but if you have something negative to say, why not simply send that person an offline message rather than put it on public display?
After all, my parent taught me this truth which still holds true, even in the era of social media:
If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.
I haven't seen a lot written about the notion of the importance of your brand having a positive spirit in social business. What do you think?