One of my favorite all time quotes is, “perspective is worth 20 IQ points, either direction“. When it comes to sentiment and velocity measurement, this concept reigns supreme.
At Maroon Alchemy we track 3 million different entities. By entities I mean: people, products, companies, brands, characters, etc. Think – proper noun. We do this day in and day out and keep all the historical data. Historical data is critical to gaining perspective. Without it, you are simply only seeing a part of the picture.
Some of the entities we track are more interesting than others. One of my personal favorite categories is to track controversial artists and celebrities. To demonstrate this point, let’s use Lady GaGa. A controversial figure for sure. However, our data is telling us she jumped from “controversial recording artist” status to “polarizing figure” recently. Whether that continues remains to be seen but this shift couldn’t be spotted unless we were looking at historical data.
The above is a volume or velocity chart for Lady Gaga starting on 10/2. This looks pretty normal for a controversial recording artist. You have a 1:1 or 1.5:1 ratio between positive to negative observations. So, what’s the big deal right? That’s what the person without perspective (in this case historical data) says. And now, for the rest of the story…
Looking at this from a longer term view you can see that a very significant event (or series of) occurred on 10/2 that has continued to resonate through today that literally was a game changer. It leaps off the page. This event thrust Lady GaGa to the forefront of conversation on the web. Looking at the themes from that period it seems she had a busy week. She canceled the Fame Kills tour with Kanye West, appeared in some controversial skits on SNL (complete with a cat fight with Madonna – I actually liked it but the general consensus was BAD) and started to catch significant heat from gay-rights opponents, particularly associated with the Maine ballot initiative. What is interesting to note is that some of this heat coming from the more conservative part of the sprectrum has continued through the election.
So there you have it – the story of a recording artist going from second gear to fourth in the blink of an eye. But you would have missed it unless you had historical data. What is also interesting to note, and we’ve seen this in the past (hello Apple Computer?) is that often these seismic changes in public perception of an entity aren’t always caused by a single event, but rather several events all hitting at once. There is a lesson there and one that handlers of bad news know well (hence the Friday news dump).
Lastly, I would like to call your attention to the time frame from 10/9 to today on the first chart. That’s sustained velocity folks but what is also interesting to note is the gradual but consistent reduction in negative observations. Somewhere an agent or PR person is smiling…