Itai Himelboim, Araujo, T., & Maslowska, E. (Accepted). Integrating network clustering analysis and computational methods to understand communication with and about brands: opportunities and challenges. Journal of Advertising.
Abstract: Brand-related content co-created by consumers can play a crucial role in brand-consumer interactions and provide brands with valuable insights hidden in vast seas of unstructured data. We propose and evaluate a framework integrating a social network approach and scalable automated content analysis of texts and visuals for studying brand-related communication on social media. To illustrate the proposed approach, we use Twitter content related to two brands – Barclays and Sierra Club. Applying network clustering algorithms, we identify different types of organically emerging communities around brands. Cluster-specific diffusion leaders are identified using their in-degree centrality values. To examine the unique characteristics of brand-related content within each cluster, we apply and assess the accuracy of popular off-the-shelf solutions for text and image analysis. Of six sentiment analysis solutions, only one shows acceptable reliability levels. For computer vision APIs, we first identify labels that have unclear or imprecise meaning and calculate accuracy levels, resulting in acceptable accuracy levels for 4 of the 5 APIs. We discuss conceptual and practical implications of this integrative approach and of the technological hurdles that these popular automated content analysis applications pose.