[Update: Katie, from Radian6, responded to this (see comments below) in record time, so they are the winner. Being serious for a minute, it was very impressive. I’m still sceptical and think that this has more to do with Katie herself, and the fact that she’s good at her job, than the merits of any specific product, but then what do I know? Not as much as she does, that’s for sure, so why not talk to her instead - @misskatiemo on Twitter. Oh, and buy her product – it’s brilliant, as has just been demonstrated.]
So, now that I’ve become obsessed with tracking myself online (see previous post), I’ve uncovered a very healthy sub-culture in social media tracking. There are lots of products one can use to track Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc. with a bewildering array of different feature sets and target markets. It’s clearly a nascent industry (no fixed sales pitch). Let’s see if we can help it along.
Social media tracking seems to boil down to scanning various social networks for mentions of specific keywords, retweets etc. The aim is to track everywhere your name / product is mentioned, and if you’re really on the ball you can use the tools to “respond effectively” to the general chatter. Advanced features include things like “sentiment analysis” to help you understand whether people are saying nice things or not. You could just read them of course – you can get through a hell of a lot of tweets in a short period of time if you’re really trying.
Apparently Eurostar is the case study in getting this wrong – when their trains got stuck in the winter they were very slow to respond to a very active, and understandably upset, community of marooned passengers. If' only they’d bought a copy of Radian6, they’d have been fine.
If anyone reading this decides to tweet about it we may able to drive the social media tracking industry into a recursive search about itself, which can only help to drive up their collective profile.
- Flowdock – it’s Finnish, it’s RoR, it probably does stuff you don’t understand. Be warned. In public Beta, so it’ free – get it now.
- Raven – it’s not written by Ayende, but don’t hold that against it. Looks good, $79pcm, free 30 day trial.
- Sysomos – they’re “redefining social media analytics” apparently, which generally means they aren’t. Includes “Automated Sentiment” tracking. Think they pinched that from Scrumbot? No free trial (why do people do that – they’ve just lost me already – that’s 0% conversion rate from my visit – put that in your sentiment-meter Sysomos.)
- Scoutlabs – quite pricey, at $199pcm, but with a 14-free trial. Coloured chart, graphs, all that stuff. Looks like an attempt to make social media tracking look like watching the stock market – i.e. grown-up, and neat.
- Radian6 – the uber-dashboard – with an annoyingly sincere video to accompany their product launch, which goes on about the “game-changing” nature of their product. I think that means it’ll be really, really expensive (pricing is still TBA). They’ve also made up their own catchy phrase for all of the noise on the internet – the Social Phone. I presume they mean a phone at the bottom of a handbag, in a noisy bar, that auto-dialled your number at 3am whilst you shout loudly down the other end trying to get someone to listen to you?
[Update: I still think the video is over-kill, and I don’t like the Social Phone, but the product does indeed seem to work.]
- Unilyzer – as previously posted, this one is all about the stats – though you may need a PhD to decipher them.
Of course, given the nature of products I am assuming that someone from all of the above companies will see and respond to this post – given that that’s the point of them?
An honourable mention (and retraction of any unfair criticism) to the first person to do so.