Author Archives: dwlam

Understanding how ‘we’ feel today: Automated Social Sentiment

I wrote last week about TapDinGo, an online travel concierge that uses social media sentiment to go beyond curated content to build an instant, personalised itinerary. Being able to draw out the overall trending mood expressed across the cacophony of social media channels (tweets, blogs etc) is very exciting but also quite challenging. The recognised powerhouse of social media analytics, Radian 6, blogged that “There will always be a need for human review and involvement to verify automated results, and ensure that sentiment levels are tagged within the context of individual and unique business goals and agreed upon criteria.” (emphasis added)

To be fair, the Radian 6 blog was posted eons ago in Dec 2009 but there has not been a follow-up since to instill more confidence in the automated sentiment technology offering. A subsequent post in 2011 walks the user through the tool but does not touch on how much weight should be given to these results.

Social Eyez is another heavy hitter in the social media analytic space with a focus on the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. The promising claim that “..Socialeyez effectively identifies, monitors, and analyzes the most important and relevant social media content in virtually all languages, including Arabic – perhaps the most linguistically complex language in the world.” seems to be the holy grail but I missed the first part of that sentence “By using human experts..“. Social Eyez notes further that “Technology plays a key role in our everyday lives, and is key to the success of SocialEyez. However, we do not believe that today’s technology has reached the levels where a fully automated report can offer accurate and truly actionable insight.

Automated analysis of social media sentiment is certainly not easy!

Drawing on my personal experience in enterprise BI and reporting however, the goal is not 100% accuracy. Rather, it is the capability to discern an overall sentiment & trend and associate this with a level of confidence. According to comparative review by toptenreviews, Sysomos is one tool that stands out with a perfect 10 for Sentiment Accuracy (ahead of Radian 6 at 9.4).


Unfortunately, the demo seems to be for enterprises only so I could not personally review Sysomos. The samples provided seem promising however with the screenshot below from recent news:

Then of course, after NLP is mostly solved, the next challenge will be to be convincing..


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TapDinGo: The Mobile Travel Concierge with a Social Media sentiment flavour


While not strictly a social media tool, the TapDinGo online service leverages the power of social media sentiment to guide the business traveler with limited personal time to the most -individually relevant- itinerary of top sights, restaurants, and events in an unfamiliar city.

Having enough data about restaurant and POI offerings about any location is no longer a problem – arguably there is nowhere left in the world that does not have a blog, tweet or review or other socially stored experience. The problem in fact has become one of having too much data. The challenge then has become one of spending a great deal of time to pore over many screens of reviews to decide what is relevant for the individual. This requires mentally forming an impression of each event/location by ignoring the chaff, the heavily positive comments that may be owner ‘influenced’, to find other reviewers that may share similar tastes and what their verdict was – before deciding if a particular restaurant or other POI is a potentially good experience. This is a non-trivial exercise. With the explosion of social media channels and quantity, this exercise grows exponentially more difficult and often the decision may just be — to stay at home/in the hotel as it’s too difficult to go out!

TapDinGo’s innovative mobile application helps this underserved market of business travelers by optimizing the limited free time they have during business travel with quick, smart decisions and recommendations based on stated preferences and past behavior. TapDinGo brings this experience to life through a combination of personal preferences, local listings curated for business travelers, and proprietary machine learning technology that selects the best choices for your time; anywhere from an hour to a day. These choices are enhanced via social channel sentiment for local, real-time information that match the users’ profile.

Dr. Ayman Kaheel, TapDinGo’s Chief Scientist, stated, “Business travelers often times find themselves in unfamiliar cities with a block of free time available, but don’t have the desire or patience to sift and sort through hundreds of options. They want something nearby, something that speaks to their preferences and to make a decision quickly. That’s why we designed this unique application and why it’s rapidly gained traction in the market as the industry standard and must-have application.”

Some may note that the potential of TapDinGo is not limited to just the business traveler, however the team behind TapDinGo have a singular focus on creating a quality experience before broadening to other applications.

If you’re interested in more information, check out either or by contacting the team at

[David Lam @TapDinGo]


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You talking to me? Well.. I’m the only one here.

Just what does “You talking to me?” (that would be De Niro in ‘Taxi’ of course!), a seductive forest nymph with a cow’s tail and the chilling Room 237 have in common: The Seattle International Film Festival!

Room 237

Did you know that the SIFF is the largest audience-driven film festival in the US with more than 150,000 attendees? That, by the way, has to translate to a lot of seat warming! Did you know that SIFF runs for over 25 days and features World, US and Seattle premieres of 450 films and documentaries from over 70 countries.

a seductive forest nymph with a cow’s tail

I didn’t. I’ve been in Seattle now for 4 years and I wasn’t aware of it.. Yet I consider myself both a movie buff and someone with a strong appreciation of international cultures. SIFF hasn’t been able to reach me directly but not for lack of trying. SIFF has what looks to be a well established Facebook and Twitter presence. I also happened to come across the Social Media Marketing position (see abstract below) and it looks like a solid, very clear role in terms of building a strong social awareness campaign.

How did I ultimately hear of SIFF? Through word of mouth actually. Yup, the sneakernet version of social media.

Regardless of how I got here, I’m intrigued now and I visit the site to find.. a very difficult site to navigate. I want to know about the films on offer but, when I click on ‘Festival’ my options are:

Box Office | Membership | Donate | Sponsor | Volunteer | Shop | SIFF News | About SIFF | Getting Here

What? Where are the promised 450 films?! Eventually I find my way to a list of movies but it’s not clear if these are connected to the Festival. More critically, I believe SIFF has a particularly unique challenge compared to other Seattle businesses on this blog in that it has only a short window in which to create and maintain the buzz. Enabling a community on the site itself with connection to the films on offer could go a long way to addressing this. For example, support community reviews of films or even voting for films people most want to watch (could help with demand forecasting as an aside).

Despite the somewhat unsuccessful social media reach – am I still interested in SIFF? Heck yes! If you’re likewise looking to take a break from that the usual Hollywood fare, drop by the SIFF. It starts May 16 and goes thru to June 9 this year.

See below for more information – including the chance for a 3 month stint in social media marketing.

  • SIFF

    Understands and can utilize emerging platforms and social media measurement tools including: HootSuite, Tweetdeck, Klout, etc.
    • Work with Director of Marketing and Communications to establish social media strategy and best practices
    • Manage social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube) and editorial calendar to ensure content is approved and released on time
    • Keep up to date and informed on new social media trends and adapt accordingly
    • Identify leaders and influencers (internal/external) and engage them in brand activities

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    by | April 5, 2013 · 8:53 pm