Thursday, March 25, 2010

Social media tracking products

[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.


Unknown said...

Hi from Radian6 - wait, what do we win again? By way of clarification, all current Radian6 customers will be able to use our Engagement Console (launching in April) at no extra charge. Our pricing is still TBD, but we have released that bit of pricing information to the public already.

We're always around to chat or answer questions if you have any. Your list above includes many familiar names already and I can see you've done your research!


Katie Morse
@misskatiemo | Radian6

Hugo Rodger-Brown said...

Fantastic - I'm usually pretty skeptical about things like this (as you can probably tell), but I am very impressed. I will update the post to reflect this.

As a special prize, because it's you, I will also forward this to a friend of mine who kicked this post off by asking if I knew of anyone in this field. Coincidentally he's meeting your UK sales team tomorrow!

Unknown said...

Wow, thank you for the kind words in your update! I can quite honestly say that it's all part of my job, but nevertheless I'm glad you were so impressed :).

Thanks to your friend for kicking off this post, and I'm happy to hear about his meeting with 6Consulting.


themaria said...

Hi Hugo,

Interesting social media monitoring experiment you are doing here :)

I'd love to add Biz360 to the list, although we didn't come up in the list from your post. We track social media mentions with our Community product - on blogs, microblogs, online news, and forums / discussion boards (and adding photo and video very very shortly). We have an automated sentiment engine, the methodology of which our head engineer wrote about in his post on our blog:

Always happy to chat in more detail.


Maria Ogneva
@themaria @biz360

Hugo Rodger-Brown said...

Maria, Thanks for checking in, I will take a look at Biz360 as soon as I get a chance.

Hugo Rodger-Brown said...

Maria - I think you're the most online person I've ever come across - is there anything you're not sharing? I've taken a look at Biz360, but unfortunately I really can't do the "free trial" model - as a result of $1,000 bill I had to pay for a hotel reservation I forgot to cancel. "Freemium" works better for me.