Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been playing around with the State
Pitched as the global opinion network, it enables users to post their opinions on a range of topics, organizations, people, and current events—from PSY and Snoop Dogg’s latest collaboration
to gun control
As people post their opinions, the data from keywords generate a graph that maps out user sentiment, along with a keyword cloud showing the most common terms associated with the subject.
Opinions of friends are displayed on the user’s home page, so it’s easy to add your two cents to a relevant topic. State has also taken a leaf out of Twitter’s (recently revised
) book and enable users to mute (or tune in to) selected friends’ opinions and specific subjects.
The company has grand visions
to democratize online discussion, and co-founder Alexander Asseily has positioned the platform as giving everyone an equal voice—in contrast to platforms such as Twitter, where a small number of opinion leaders dominate conversations.
Here’s how State co-founder Alexander Asseily describes the site:
You don’t need to be famous or savvy with hashtags. The only requirement is expressing an opinion and we connect you with others who share the opinion.
From a PR perspective, the platform has the potential to act as an important reputation indicator and source of feedback for brand managers, politicians, and others who are willing to listen. For example, a search of Starbucks
shows 362 opinions (at the time of this writing), which are collectively balanced. However, looking at the user-submitted keywords, it’s clear that a significant percentage of users have a low opinion of the company’s product and consider it overpriced.
State also has the potential to become a go-to source of social media insight for journalists. The platform displays the collective opinions of users in a simple and clean format and enables users to examine comments under specific keywords. If State becomes the shiny new thing online (a big if), expect media to ditch the obligatory quote from Twitter and Facebook in favor of comments, keywords, and stats from State.
All of this sounds great—in theory. However, the platform is still in its infancy, with a small user base. The other downside is that the opt-in nature of the platform will not always make for accurate brand sentiment metrics.
State has gone to the trouble of adding more than 10,000 expressions to make it quick and easy for users to state their opinions in a way that reduces complexity, making it easier to graph data. Though convenient, the various ways in which cultures use words within the English language is likely to create inaccuracies. For example, Australians’ use of the word “sick” is wildly different from the way it is used in many other English-speaking countries.
These suggested options for responses will also have a significant impact on the results, and it’s highly likely that most users will select from the first couple of options available (the most popular ones) rather than searching for a word that more accurately reflects how they feel, further tainting results.
Faults aside, the team at State should be applauded for its efforts to create a global opinion network that people might actually use. If it should garner widespread adoption, it could have a significant impact on proceedings in the court of public opinion. With the 2016 election on the horizon, State could be a dark horse.
Bill Rundle is a senior account executive at Blanc & Otus,a San Francisco-based communications company that specializes in the technology sector.