I conducted an analysis on my text messages. I wondered what I could learn by leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms on my text messages. I was aware of sentiment analysis to look at text and try to make sense of the intent or emotion. Was it a positive or negative statement?

Would it really work? Do I send good vibes to others, or am I a negative Nelly? Who is the most negative person that texts me? Is my wife always so positive?

Introduction to Sentiment Analysis

Humans can interpret the meaning behind what someone else is saying. Is this person expressing anger? Are they sad?

As digital communication has increased, engineers have tried to teach computers to do the same. Business leaders have explored this technology to mine what people are saying about them online. Are they delighted? Or disappointed? Some common uses of sentiment analysis for business include:

  • customer service and customer satisfaction
  • social media analysis
  • reviews of company products
  • marketing performance evaluation

Some Examples

Here are some examples I pulled from my dataset of texts, classified as positive, neutral, or negative.

Sentiment Category Examples

Sentiment Category Examples

Tapping Into a Cloud Service by Microsoft To Assign Sentiment to Text Messages

I decided to leverage Microsoft’s cloud service for my text message analysis. It was simple to get started with a few clicks in the Azure platform. The rest was more challenging and involved writing software to call the service and capture the results. The nerds in your company or a consultant can handle it, as it is standard API familiar to developers. The key takeaway is a technical resource can access the service within minutes and begin getting results. There are many other providers of sentiment analysis, such as Google and Amazon.

I Receive More Negative Texts Than I Send

See—I am a positive person! The proof is below. I send more positive messages than negative.

Sentiment Analysis Summary - Sent Vs. Received

Sentiment Analysis Summary - Sent Vs. Received

My Friends Are a Mixed Bag, but Family is More Neutral

I guess there aren’t a lot of bland conversations between my friends. They are either positive or negative, not nearly as many gray, based on the data visualization below. On the flip side, my interactions with my immediate family are much more neutral (75% of sent and 71% of received). This makes sense, as there are a lot more transactional conversations with family, like On my way, Leaving, and Yes, for example.

Sentiment By Contact Group

Sentiment By Contact Group

COVID-19 Brings Out Negativity

An interesting trend I found was a significant increase in negative sentiment following COVID-19 discussions (March 2020 and later), increasing from 13% to 19% of messages received.

Sent Vs. Received Text Sentiment Before vs. After COVID-19

Sent Vs. Received Text Sentiment Before vs. After COVID-19

You can clearly see the spike by laying out the results each month as seen below. In August 2019, I spread the most cheer!

Sent Messages Sentiments by Month from Integrity Data Insights

Sent Messages' Sentiments by Month

Three-Way Tie for Most Negative Texts Received

It didn’t surprise me too much to see my father-in-law and friends at the top of the negative texts I received. But the kids’ school? I dug a little deeper. It was likely keying off words like cancel and delay, as most of the texts from the school were about school closings and delays.

Sentiment by Contact Type analytics

Sentiment by Contact Type

Extended Family Tops in Positive Message Percentage

Many times, I only hear from my extended family on events like birthdays, anniversaries, etc. So it makes sense that when they do reach out, their texts carry a positive message to me.

Most Positive Response Percentages of text messages

Most Positive Response Percentages

Spouse Head-To-Head: She Spreads Slightly More Cheer

The messages between my wife and I were pretty well matched—and most were neutral sentiment. She has a slight edge in messages sent with positive sentiment.

Spouse Sentiment Head-To-Head

Spouse Sentiment Head-To-Head

Don’t Expect Perfection

It can be hard enough for a human to detect someone’s intentions. So no wonder the machine is going to get it wrong at times. Each sentiment comes with a score for how confident it is in the sentiment it determined. The lower the score, the more questionable the results.

I had to make some adjustments based on the output. The key is to review the results and adjust your output accordingly. The service returns a score for positive, neutral, and negative sentiment. This allows the user to adjust and possibly add cut-off scores or other logic to handle mixed sentiment, like the example shown below. This article gives good tips on the limitations. As always, the services will continue to improve with added investments from cloud providers.

Example of Mixed Sentiment

Example of Mixed Sentiment

Should You Get Sentimental?

Sentiment analysis is a powerful technology that can be a game changer for getting closer to your customers and being in tune with what others are saying about you. You can now measure this critical component (that was previously very subjective) with hard numbers. With cloud-based providers (Azure, Google, AWS), your developers can append this data to your company data at minimal cost. I would recommend running a small sample of your data points through before investing in software development to run a large set of data through. Kick the tires and see if it adds value to your business.

If you are looking to track marketing sentiment and more common use cases, there are a host of vendors that already offer this service, including Salesforce. Explore these first to tap into your social media channels without building something custom.

Try It Out Yourself – My Sentiment Analysis Dashboard

Play around with my Tableau data visualization dashboard and see how you like it!

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