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Monitoring & Analyzing Social Media

With over 1.5 billion conversations stored, can you afford not to listen?

Category: Off Topic

Jan 5, 2009 0 Comments

NitTwits: MLM (multi-level marketing) people think following on Twitter is a road to riches

Here’s a rant: Someone out there has unleashed the world of MLM ‘networkers’ into Twitter and instructed them to find people with lots of followers and follow all of them. Purpose? To spam people with messages about how to become rich by joining ‘the greatest business opportunity ever’ as one of these NitTwits described his ‘business’.

Typically they are following thousands of people, have zero followers and very few Tweets. Ridiculous.

My advice? Block them from following you, otherwise they will start spamming your followers.


Nov 20, 2008 0 Comments

Sizing the Social Media Marketing Market: How Many Brands are There?

One of the things we get asked frequently, from a business POV, is how big is the social media market? Before I tackle that elephant, let me define what the questioner is asking. We sell a tool used by social media marketers and researchers. That’s the market we’re sizing: How many potential customers are there for social media marketing vendors like Techrigy?

We know social media itself is huge and expanding like a nuclear reaction, literally. The early adopters of technology like ours tend to be agencies, particularly PR, communications and digital agencies (the ad people are still pretty far behind). So if we say there are 100,000 agencies (a made-up number) then our market seems to get capped at some fraction of that number (we won’t get all of them obviously). This is not the case because agencies don’t represent a single client or a single niche market. They represent brands, lots of brands. So the operative question is ‘How many brands are there?’ and the answer is millions.

So how big is the market for social media monitoring? Big. There millions of iterations of brands, localized versions, international variations by language and culture, sub brands like Swanson’s Chicken Broth, Swanson’s Canned Chicken, Swanson’s Chicken Pot Pies, etc., and things associated with brands like celebrities, executives, issues and influencers. It is a virtually unlimited market when you consider that all of these brands will be migrating some or all of their marketing to social media.

And this does not take into account the rapidly emerging concept of personal brands…more on that in another post!

Aug 27, 2008 0 Comments

What is a Techrigy?

Techrigy is a term for a posse of packrats who collect all kinds of stuff and keep it forever…

Since I started here I get asked about the name every time I tell someone what I do. I’ve never gotten an explanation from Aaron. As marketing guy I wanted to change it but don’t care now- it’s our company, our brand is SM2 which is building a life of its own…

Aug 12, 2008 0 Comments

Ning Thing

Ning is Marc Andreesson’s white label social network platform. It’s super simple to use which means anyone who wants to build a social network around any subject can do so in literally a few minutes. Our Techrigy network for SM2 users, Conversation, is built with Ning.

I spent a little time recently building one for a place me and my friends like to go to for live music and libations (a bar in other words) . It is really interesting watching it grow.

These things are so simple and so feature-rich that I think they change the dynamic of the Internet. Just as blogs are rapidly replacing conventional static websites, these social network platforms are replacing portals for any kind of subject.

Of course we index Ning sites in SM2.

Jun 25, 2008 0 Comments

Change is constant

We moved our office and our data center earlier this week. It was not without its hiccups but we got through it thanks to heroic efforts by the Techrigy team. We’re also launching yet another update to SM2, about the fourth since I started 2 months ago (details soon). If you’ve ever worked in a software company you know this is pretty cool. If you haven’t here’s a little info about how it used to work and how it now works (if your developers are good!)

Old way:

  1. Write a BRD. Business Requirements Document, which details every possible thing needed to be built in. Six weeks if you’re lucky.
  2. Argue about the BRD with engineering and revise timeframes outward several weeks (or months).
  3. Write code, do a build, break the system and blame each other.
  4. QA to debug.
  5. repeat several times.
  6. Launch ‘beta’ which means if it’s f**ed up you have an excuse.
  7. Timeframe between builds: 6 months

New way:

  1. Talk to customers and users everyday and keep track of requests that make sense
  2. Notice places where users consistently don’t get it and think about how to make it easier
  3. Imagine you’re sitting at a desk trying to make the app work the way they do
  4. Decide on a set of doable changes, prioritize which can be done sooner and which require more work
  5. Build both but launch the simple ones first.
  6. Timeframe between builds: two weeks.

The reason for the title of this post is that there simply isn’t time to do it the old way. Someone else will come along, do it faster and eat your lunch.

Jun 20, 2008 0 Comments

I don’t want to leave my browser

This is a rant against the rapidly receding software platform known as the desktop. In the last year I have fully embraced Google Apps, which in spite of being a bit buggy and odd in their behavior, are far more convenient and less feature-bloated than the dreaded Office. Since our application is SaaS we’re naturally pre-disposed to this model, to the point where going back and using a desktop app is an annoyance.

For example if I create a spreadsheet (and to be fair I am an Excel lightweight) in Excel and I want to share it I have to email it around (I’m on Mac and most of my co-workers are Win) or put it somewhere all can access with the associated version issues. With Goog apps I just share and I’m done.

Perhaps my favorite example of this is the word processor app which reverts the entire Word model back to something like 5.1, a version I happily wrote a bunch of books with back in the nineties. Then I had to watch in horror as Microsoft started ‘improving’ the thing until every task was hopelessly complicated and confusing. I began to yearn for the ‘good old days’ of Word 5.1. In vain, until Google entered the productivity world with its very simple iteration of the classic office suite.

So what’s the point? A couple of things. When you design an application for a hosted model it has to be refined into something fast and scalable in a very unpredictable environment. Acquiring the skills and mindset to do this usually also means developing an appreciation for simplicity and good UI design.

It also means that development can be continuous because you’re no longer packing disks into boxes with big paperback books and selling upgrades. This creates a mindset that says features are built because users request them frequently rather than because you need selling points for the next product version. It also means that upgrades must be an actual improvement that is easily grasped by users because all of them will receive every upgrade- they don’t have the choice of sticking with an older version. So the changes you make better be good.

The result is a forced march towards simplicity even if the underlying engine is complex and powerful.

Another way of looking at this is to think about the engineers. They can no longer hide away for months and then unveil a bunch of crap only an engineer would think was cool (like that talking paperclick guy). With SaaS, if they add a stupid feature there will be howls of rage from users right away, a fact that turns those same engineers into experts on creating really great features instead of goofy annoying ones.

The source of this rant is my recent adoption of Salesforce. In spite of their terrible tutorials, the actual application is really easy to set up and use and makes great use of Ajaxy things to automate frequently used navigation and actions. It works really (actually I hate the reporting interface at the moment but…) well for most basic things.

As connections become ubiquitous and ever-faster, the viability of desktop applications diminishes, especially for lower horsepower things like Office-style apps. More important, as I’ve detailed above, I think the hosted model is forcing a major improvement in software design and usability.


Jun 12, 2008 0 Comments

SaaS, Microsoft, Google, Salesforce and SM2

We’re a software as a service (SaaS) company. A few years ago that was almost a novelty, especially in business to business applications where the trust factor was an issue as in: ‘where is my data?’ and ‘who can see my data?’, etc. Today this is much less of a factor as acceptance of SaaS is widespread, in part because the big guys like Google and Microsoft are entering the fray and other guys (gals, whatever) like Salesforce are building entire platforms on SaaS.

This was driven home to me as I started using Salesforce for CRM and started digging around in the platform. They have a really useful integration with both Google Apps and Adwords, something that will save huge amounts of time and streamline our processes in ways I couldn’t imagine not too long ago. And, for a non-programmer like me (I have the word ‘marketing’ in my title), the app is dead-simple to configure. I can build a form for free SM2 sign-ups, connect it to Adwords campaigns and track conversions. The data entered into the form is automatically added to our CRM and I can monitor all of this in a dashboard in Salesforce. With Apps integration I can use Apps to attach docs, spreadsheets and presentations to communications I have with our customers and prospects without leaving Salesforce. Really useful.

If I’m Microsoft this worries me. Salesforce is building a very powerful platform that you could literally run a business off and it’s scalable from 1 person to an enterprise. I can securely access it anywhere and really don’t require a dedicated machine for my work- it’s in the cloud.

Jun 10, 2008 0 Comments

Robot Asimo can understand three voices at once

I guess he’d be good at social media.