NEWS16 December 2009

Harris adds social media data to flagship opinion poll

Data analytics North America

US— Harris Interactive has integrated text analytics software into its Harris Polls service to gauge public opinion on key issues by analysing comments on social media sites.

The firm will use text mining software from Clarabridge to analyse comments on a range of social media sites before integrating the data with the traditional methods used in the poll.

George Terhanian (pictured), president of global solutions at Harris, said: “Opinions that people express on sites such as Twitter, on mainstream media sites or other message boards, and on social media sites are fast becoming an influence on, and a source of, public opinion. The Harris Poll, one of the longest-running and most innovative barometers of public opinion in the world, is now measuring these new sources of opinion. This marks our first attempt in the public eye.”

The first test of the merged data gauged public opinion of Barack Obama’s healthcare reform initiative. Harris polled 2,475 adults and integrated the results with analysis from 239,644 online documents that were mined using Clarabridge technology.

Clarabridge president Justin Langseth added: “Text analytics enables market research firms like Harris Interactive to provide their clients with a much richer 360-degree perspective on the companies, products, services and issues they are researching. In social media conversations, it is estimated that about 80% of the data is non-opinion conversational data but the other 20% includes real opinions. Text analytics is able to separate this out and accurately quantify the positive versus negative comments on the important topics of the day.”