Have you ever glared at an ad on Facebook and wondered where they put the “Dislike” button? I’d imagine this is a pretty universal experience for social media users, but thus far Facebook hasn’t stepped up to address this void. Perhaps they’d rather not hear about our distaste, but many companies who use the Like button and similar sentiment measuring tools would like more comprehensive feedback. Companies that rely on relatively small levels of feedback to gauge their performance can’t get the information that they need from a few likes. Do they have a segment of customers who enjoy what they offer but aren’t inclined to hit “Like”? Or more importantly, do they have dissatisfied customers with no easy way to express their distaste?

MySmark has stepped up with a new option for small companies and big businesses alike: a website plugin that lets customers give feedback in the form of “smarks,” or smart marks. Alessandro Oltramari, a Scientific Consultant for B-Sm@rk Ltd laid out the benefits and challenges of the tool in his recent talk at SemTechBiz SF.

Rather than a simple “Like” option, MySmark offers up a Rose of Emotions with 32 emotional responses to choose from. The rose is based on psychological models of emotional dichotomy and depth, specifically Plutchik’s wheel of emotion and Mehrabian’s PAD models. The rose allows users the opportunity to express not “like” versus indifference, but ┬árather joy versus sadness, trust versus disgust, or even regret versus fatalism. Admittedly, very few companies will have need to measure just how fatalistic their customers are feeling, which is why MySmark lets their clients customize the wheel to their specific needs.

But these overtly shared emotions are just half of the story. The other half (the semantic half) falls in the comments section. After selecting an appropriate emotion, users are free to elaborate on their feelings in natural language. MySmark’s semantic framework then analyzes what is written to give the client a clearer picture of the emotional experience of their users.

By combining simple point-and-click feedback with semantic analytics, MySmark is able to provide their clients with a rich understanding of emotional experience with less obtrusive data collecting practices. As Oltramari put it, “Without the semantic layer to find the richness of the emotional expression, you don’t have anything, because you can’t find the meaning of the experience. You can’t find the ‘why?’ You need semantics to make explicit the meaning of the emotional experience.”

The potential of the MySmark tool is clear, but the question remains, how do you get people to use it? Oltramari’s short answer is “gamification.” In many cases, a company will use MySmark as a pop-up on their own website, but rather than a simple survey, they’ll encourage feedback with a fun question. Barilla, a client of MySmark, asked their customers, “Which kind of pasta are you?” and provided three options. Users were also asked to use the Rose of Emotions to express how they feel and add any comments they’d like. In the end, they were rewarded with a coupon appropriate to their assessed tastes. Used in this way MySmark can provide companies with opportunities to foster community amongst consumers, social media broadcasting of positive experiences, and targeted semantic advertising, all in addition to actionable, real-time consumer insights.

“With semantics,” Oltramari concluded, “companies need less input than they do with straight machine learning. Our semantic framework means that less users provide more data, giving smaller businesses bigger data.”

Image: Courtesy MySmark