ARMONK, N.Y. - 24 May 2012: An IBM (NYSE: IBM) analysis of
social media sentiment indicates that Americans are
increasingly upbeat about their plans for the Memorial Day
weekend, with a huge increase this year in the amount of
people talking about traveling and spending compared to
last year. In particular, the "Desire Ratio" - the
proportion of positive versus negative comments about
shopping - increased by a factor of five for this Memorial
Day compared with last year.
The IBM Social Sentiment Index, which uses analytics and
natural language processing technologies to aggregate and
gauge consumer public opinions from Twitter, blogs, message
boards and other social media, shows a 46 percent increase
in the amount of conversations about Memorial Day travel
compared to 2011. This signal suggests travel providers and
transportation officials could see a boost in demand and
traffic during the holiday weekend.
Upbeat Discussion of Air Travel and Gas Prices
The Index also shows a large increase in social chatter
about flying, with mentions jumping 65 percent compared to
last year, while references to driving increased 13
Surprisingly, sentiment on the topic of gas prices, which
have only recently gone down from their highest prices of
the year, is considerably more positive than last year,
with a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative mentions in
2012 compared to a 1 to 1 ratio in 2011.
These combined trends may indicate that people are feeling
better this year about their finances going into the
Memorial Day holiday.
Retailers also could see a jump in consumer spending over
the holiday. The Index, which looked at online
conversations from January 1 to May 16 in 2012 and 2011,
reveals an upward trend in positive sentiment toward
Memorial Day spending. The ratio of positive to
negative comments about shopping and Memorial Day travel -
which IBM calls the Desire Ratio -- is 6.5 to 1 this year
compared to a ratio of 1.3 to 1 in 2011. During the
same period, negative sentiment around the topic of budgets
decreased by 50 percent year over year [10.5 percent in
2011 versus 4.9 percent in 2012].
"When analytics are applied to social media conversations,
it identifies more than what people are talking about. This
is valuable insight into people's preferences and attitudes
about a product or a service and helps us understand why
people do what they do," said Marty Salfen, IBM general
manager, travel & transportation. "Being able to predict,
plan or act on sentiment around Memorial Day travel in
real-time can be an opportunity for businesses to
capitalize on fast-moving trends. An airline could offer
fliers different, more specific services or deals,
transportation officials could provide more alternate
routes, retailers could staff up for the long weekend."
The wealth of online content around travel -- from traveler
review sites to public conversations on Twitter and
Facebook -- has become very influential in how people
determine their travel plans. Understanding the positive,
neutral and negative nuances of their conversations and who
is influential can help airlines, hoteliers and other
travel service providers better market products and
services to their customers, strengthen brand loyalty and
respond in real-time.
About the IBM Social Sentiment Index
The IBM Social Sentiment Index uses advanced analytics and
natural language processing technologies to analyze large
volumes of social media data in order to assess public
opinions. The Index can identify and measure positive,
negative and neutral sentiments shared in public forums
such as Twitter, blogs, message boards and other social
media, and provide quick insights into consumer
conversations about issues, products and services.
Representing a new form of market research, social
sentiment analyses offer organizations new insights that
can help them better understand and respond to consumer
trends. For more information about IBM Business
Analytics, please visit: www.ibm.com/analytics.
To download the IBM Social Sentiment Index for Memorial Day
travel infographic, please visit http://bit.ly/LrPXJh.
To join the conversation, follow the hashtag #IBMIndex