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Monitoring & Analyzing Social Media

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

Category: Uncategorized

Oct 1, 2009 4 Comments

Five Myths about Automatic Sentiment Analysis

This is cross posted on Alterian’s Engaging Times blog.

Sentiment analysis is a hot topic. If the social media monitoring tool doesn’t have it, there’s criticism. If it does have it then there’s skepticism. So let’s take some time to talk about these five myths:

  1. The technology isn’t accurate
  2. Sentiment doesn’t take into account cultural differences
  3. Positives and negatives cancel each other
  4. Can’t identify the influence of those expressing the sentiment
  5. Sentiment doesn’t indicate action

1. The technology isn’t accurate

Sentiment analysis using natural language processing. Yes, it is done by a machine and no, it’s not 100 % accurate. The industry estimates that it’s at 70 – 80%. We are very open about that and recommend that it be used as an overview.

In using a tool like Techrigy SM2 for automatic sentiment, customers can see the overall view of thousands of search results. It would take hours to manually review the same amount and one still wouldn’t have an overall sense of the percentage positive vs negative.

SM2 has a customizable dictionary so users have the option of reviewing a sample of results and revising the dictionary. This functionality was added to accommodate the language differences of various verticals. For example “well” in the health industry is a positive thing, but in the energy industry, an oil well has no bearing on sentiment.

2. Sentiment doesn’t take into account cultural differences

One of the first dictionaries that we customized was for our friends down under. Australia has some vernacular that is unique to it’s region. No matter the location, those lexical idiosyncrasies can be added to SM2’s dictionary.

3. Positives and negatives cancel each other

Marta Strickland listed this in her recent blog post: Five Reasons Sentiment Analysis Won’t Ever Be Enough

Many people assume this. In SM2 a search result can be attributed with positive and negative sentiment. In addition, a search result may have 3 positive aspects and 1 negative. This would also be charted as such (3 in the positive column, and 1 in the negative).

This information is then considered along with the length of the post when calculating tone.

4. Can’t identify the influence of those expressing the sentiment

That is possible and it utilizes the power of SM2’s categories.

Let’s consider the negative sentiment around McDonald’s McCafe. We want to see the negative results in order of influence (SM2 refers to it as Popularity).

By creating a category called ‘Neg McCafe Sentiment’ and assigning those results to it, we can then view them in the Demographics report. This will allow you to see the distribution from highest to lowest influence. You can drill in at each level.


And they can also be displayed under ‘View Results’ and displayed in order of Highest Popularity first. This is a nice way to browse them.


5. Sentiment doesn’t indicate action

I agree that it doesn’t indicate it, but I would also argue that automatic sentiment makes it very easy to realize trends/patterns that would otherwise be very difficult to identify.

By reviewing the results under Negative Sentiment in the McCafe example, some trends become apparent. And they fit under the following business objectives:

  • feedback on the products – product development
  • complaints about customer service – customer service
  • irritation with specific ad’s – marketing/advertising
  • reference of being diet conscious – marketing research

What do you think about automated sentiment analysis?

Katie Paine has a poll on her blog.

And Andy Beal offers another viewpoint.

Jul 15, 2009 14 Comments

Alterian adds Techrigy to their Marketing Platform

We are excited to share the news that Techrigy has joined the Alterian family!


Techrigy has been offering their customers a robust social media monitoring tool with amazing analytics. It’s a versatile tool that offers a broad range of functionality to it’s customers ranging from PR agencies, marketing agencies, consultants and brands.

Like so many startups Techrigy began with humble beginnings. Serial entrepreneur, Aaron Newman and Jay Mari started the company in a basement. After a time they moved into an office with no windows. (Jay showed me the building last week when I was in Rochester, NY & shared that detail.) Techrigy’s present office space does have windows but they’ve outgrown the space. A few months ago Techrigy acquired Andiamo Systems and we added staff in San Francisco. It’s now time for another big change as Techrigy moves forward (including new office space!)

We are excited to see Techrigy’s history continue to evolve as we announce Alterian’s acquisition of Techrigy! Alterian is a leading integrated marketing platform  provider. Alterian’s Chief Executive Officer, David Eldridge, acknowledges the fundamental shift occurring in marketing, “Marketing is currently going through a revolution. The days of mass marketing and untargeted mailings are numbered. Marketers now need to appeal to the individual and engage with customers on a personal basis.” Monitoring social media and the related analytics perfectly complements their integrated marketing platform which focus on providing marketers with analytical tools. Techrigy SM2 will be joining their existing suite of three products: Email, Web Content Management, Analytics (Database & Operational Marketing).

The Techrigy team has built a reputation of excellent customer service paired with a reputation for listening to online conversations. That is the legacy that we have built & the experience we offer to our customers. The acquisition will provide our customers with more training resources, 24/7 customer service, enhanced product development and so much more!

Aaron Newman, Founder and President of Techrigy says, “Today’s announcement marks a great step in the SM2 story and for social media monitoring. We don’t see this as the end of the Techrigy story but the start of something bigger. Through the back of the Alterian brand, SM2 now becomes an integral part of the marketer’s arsenal and social media monitoring and analytics takes a giant leap forward in becoming as essential as traditional marketing tactics. We are excited to be part of the online marketing revolution and happy to be joining the Alterian team.”

We share Alterian’s spirit of innovation! And we look forward to continuing to make Techrigy SM2 best in class for social media monitoring and analytics.

To read about Alterian’s products and watch videos of Aaron Newman & David Eldridge, visit:

Jul 8, 2009 3 Comments

Social Media for Competitive Intelligence

In my first job out of college, I had a really unpleasant task every Monday morning. See, I worked at a large regional bank and every morning I had to call a dozen other banks and get all their rates. Saving, checking, loans, mortgage. There was no way to disguise who I was. After about 10 minutes on the phone, the teller was pretty annoyed with me. After 15 minutes, he was ready to hang up on me.

“Wait!” I’d cry. “How about a 30-year fixed mortgage on a….”


Back then, monitoring the competition was tough. Today, thanks to the ever growing world of social media, it’s a whole lot easier to find information about your competition. Here are a few simple tips to get started:

  1. Be a Twitter Spy. Set up a Tweetbeep. If you can use Google Alerts you can use Tweetbeep. Just go to and enter your competitors’ names. You’ll be notified when anyone Tweets about your competition. The information you receive will be a gold mine. Your competitors’ clients will tweet about how well (or poorly) the latest pitch went, their employees will complain about working all night to get the new product into beta. A reporter will talk about using them for a source. Customers will talk about pricing. The HR intern will tell you that layoffs are coming today.
    Did you hear that something big is happening at a competitor and you can’t wait to be Tweetbeeped? Then just go to and type in search strings like “[Competitor name layoff” “[Competitor name] acquired” “[Competitor name] president” People will share scoops on Twitter that they never would in person or on the phone.
    You can also start following your competitors’ executives, managers, employees, interns and contractors. Not to mention, their biggest clients. When news is coming from the company, you’ll get it from every perspective—giving you the full picture. Of course, don’t be surprised when you get the spin from the company president and PR director and the juicy stuff from the interns and contractors.
  1. Get LinkedIn. I’m willing to bet you already have a LinkedIn profile and some good connections on the site. But now, it’s time to start mining LinkedIn for information on your competition. First take a moment to consider what LinkedIn knows about a company: it knows who just joined a company, it knows who left, it knows who received a promotion and it knows who is connected to whom at other companies. Now, rather than rely on a person to write a company profile, aka Wikipedia, LinkedIn can create an automated feed to pull all this together into a shockingly accurate profile. Go ahead and check out your own company profile by searching here:

A quick scan will tell you how many people work at the company and who recently left the company. Seeing who left is not only a great tool if you’re looking to recruit from the competition, it’s also a good way to see if a particular department is in the midst of a shakeup.You can also identify the companies most connected to your competition. This may help you identify where they recruit their employees, who their biggest clients are, and what strategic alliances are most important. Company divisions and acquisitions are also listed, allowing you to understand the corporate hierarchy. The information on number of employees, revenue (listed even for many private companies), median age, employee gender and the various schools their employees attended, rounds out the picture.

  1. Dive deep with Manta. is one of the largest and most popular business information sites on the Internet. Manta has profiles on 63 million plus companies, including yours. The site specializes in hard-to-find information about small businesses and other privately held companies. Membership to the site is free and you can use the free contact management system on the site to track and share competitive information with the rest of your staff. The information on companies varies, but in general, you can find annual revenue, key contacts and number of employees. Premium financial reports are also available for a fee. Can’t find the information you need? The site has a question and answer feature that allows users to post a question that can be addressed by the site’s other members.
    Interested in seeing who is affiliate with your competitors? Visit their company pages on and find Manta members who are associated with the company. You can also see who else (maybe your clients and prospects) who are viewing your competitors pages. And, similar to Tweetbeeps for Twitter, you can an alert on your competitors to be notified when something on their pages changes. (Disclosure: once upon a time I worked at ECNext, the company that owns and operates Manta).

One other point: Your competitors are probably using these same tools to keep tabs on you. Keep an eye on your own social media presence to see the image that you are projecting. Social media has changed the way we do a lot of things in the business world, including how we keep up on what our competition is up to. Somebody, somewhere out there, is talking about your competitors, opening up a world of information never before available. Now is the time to take advantage of it. Who knows, now may also be the time to take advantage of a 30-year fixed loan, too.

Bill Balderaz

is founder and chief optimism officer of Webbed Marketing. Based in Columbus, Ohio, Webbed Marketing helps organizations use the Internet to produce real business results. The company specializes in goal-oriented search engine optimization, pay-per-click and social media marketing programs.


Jul 3, 2009 0 Comments

Jeremy Epstein on Listening & Measurement


In the first part of this series, Jeremy talked about his Community Driven Marketing. The first step is Listening and I asked him to share the tools that he uses.

Measurement is also a huge topic that’s very important in every effort. So he generously shares how he measures each of the three steps:

  • Listening
  • Cultivation
  • Activation

And we wrap up with Jeremy talking about calculating ROI. I hope you enjoy the second part of the interview! Jeremy’s enthusiasm is infectious.

Listen to the interview

Jun 28, 2009 2 Comments

Interview with Jeremy Epstein Part 1


You’re going to really enjoy the fresh outlook that Jeremy Epstein has on marketing & engaging with brand enthusiasts. He has dubbed his technique: Community Driven Marketing. (Check out his white paper!)

In the interview Jeremy talks about the challenges marketers face:

  • Abundance of channels and scarcity of attention
  • Power of Permission
  • Reach of Individual

Jeremy shares his three step process:

  • Listen
    • create listening posts
    • find passionate people
  • Empower
    • establish relationships
    • cultivate & build them
  • Activate
    • encourage ideas
    • empower them

This really is a must listen and you’ll hear how passionate Jeremy is. He’s found a way to take a match (the message) & ignite the gasoline (the raving fans) so that it spreads across their networks.

In part two Jeremy will talk about Listening Tools and Measurement.

Enjoy the interview!

Apr 29, 2009 0 Comments

Eyes on the Future May 2nd

We invite you to check out Eyes on the Future this Saturday, May 2nd, from 10-11am on Rochester radio station 1180AM WHAM.

We will be covering “How Businesses Are Using Social Media”. Our own Aaron Newman, President and Founder of Techrigy, will be on a discussion panel with Neil Hair, Assistant Professor of Marketing at RIT and Susan Barnes, Professor of Communications at RIT.

You can call in to ask questions at 1-800-295-1180. We are hoping to hear from you!

Also, a must-attend event in Rochester is going on the same day – Imagine RIT. Running from 10am-5pm on Saturday, go check it out. Here’s a link for more details:

Mar 12, 2009 3 Comments

Tools Only Get You So Far

Tools such as Techrigy are great to have in your social media arsenal. Actually these tools are more of a necessity than a “nice to have.” However, with all the great tools out there comes a lot more interpretation of data and information. While tools such as Techrigy can help get the job done, they are ultimately not responsible for the success or failure of a social media campaign. How you interpret and act on the data is what will determine your success.

Here are a few tips that can help you make the most out of tools such as Techrigy

• If you are using a third party agency or company to run your social media campaign make sure they give you a debrief on how they are using tools such as Techrigy and what specifically they look for.

• Make sure you align your social media strategy with your marketing strategy. Techrigy gives you a lot of data and all of your interactions and community responses need give off the same “voice” from your company.

• Before you or a third party begins using a tool like Techrigy, make sure you understand all of the capabilities and possibilities. These tools are robust and can probably give you more information than you know about.

• Make sure you participate with the community. Techrigy does an excellent job of creating a community around their product, largely thanks to the help of a Connie Bensen.

• Stay up to date on new features, releases, and bug fixes. Several companies out there provide email newsletter alerts with updates, make sure you read them to understand what’s going on. You never know when that new feature you want will finally make its way into the actual product.

• Before starting off with any type of monitoring or analytics tool you have to understand your goals. This goes hand in hand with understanding your strategy. However, if your goals are to get more links and get talked about on the “big” blogs, then make sure that’s what you’re using your monitoring tool for.

I hope these 6 simple tips will make your experience using tools such as Techrigy more meaningful and more powerful. Do you have any other tips you want to share?

Jacob Morgan


Jacob offers social media consulting services and runs a team of SEOs. He’s the former cmo/founder of a company in the social media space and is currently brainstorming his next startup venture. Being a social media consultant means he gets to connect with a lot of interesting people so make sure you say hello to him! You can connect with him directly on twitter.

URL: Jacob Morgan Marketing

Mar 4, 2009 8 Comments

Knowledge, Power & Social Media

Power is the ability to act or capacity to perform or act effectively. Power is most often used to control or influence. Without a doubt, Social Media has a great deal of power! Social Media is exerting a great deal of influence over traditional marketing, advertising, and communication channels. Social Media has also given a great deal of power to the average consumer as has been demonstrated time and time again. One single individual with a single post or tweet can change an entire company’s product offering, policy, or strategy. Consumers and individuals clearly understand the power of social media and they are not afraid to use it. On the other hand businesses have not gained power from Social Media as quickly as individuals have. Why is that? It is because of knowledge.

Knowledge is defined as awareness or understanding gained through experience, observation, or study. The average consumer doesn’t need to have a great deal of knowledge to take advantage of the power of social media over businesses. All they need to know is ‘I state my case (whether it is valid or not) and if enough people hear or see it then businesses react and I win.’ This Power of Social Media is many voices (consumers) and the influence of one (business).

This formula works for consumers because it does not take much for a consumer to know what triggers a business to act. However, businesses on the other hand have to know the many triggers for the many individual consumers in order to influence them to act. For businesses there are many, many, many more data points to be collected and analyzed.

Knowledge is acquired through analyzing data. When it comes to Social Media this is called “listening”. In words that Marketing Execs and CEOs will understand, this is called Market Research, better put: Market Research on steroids. Instead of surveys or focus groups this is raw, uncensored potentially unsolicited viewpoints of real people. As you listen, you learn how to use Social Media to your advantage. Gaining power when you use what you have learned from listening.

What can you learn through listening to Social Media? Businesses can learn how to select profitable new markets to enter, create a “Blue Ocean.” Through Social Media, businesses can learn how to select and attract the customers who best match their organization. Businesses can also reduce the risk and severity of bad customer service claims. These are just a few of the many things that businesses can learn from listening to Social media. The next step is to put these learnings to use.

So to harness the power of Social Media you need to understand that many voices to become the influencer. For businesses this means that you have to get many voices to influence others that you feel are worth doing business with. To do this you must listen, learn and act. Contrary to popular belief, knowledge is not power. Power is the wise use of knowledge!

Techrigy + ManoByte = Power

Byte or get bitten!

Kevin Dean


Kevin’s company ManoByte is a Social Media Analytics consultancy. The company was established in 2007 specifically with the mission of helping businesses understand how to use Social Media data effectively to make better business decision when it comes to attracting and retaining customers. The Name ManoByte was inspired by Kevin’s love of diving, “Mano” being the Hawaiian word for Shark.

Twitter: @manobyte

Feb 11, 2009 1 Comment

Collecting the Conversation

Last night I was talking with Keith Burtis. He’s the Community Manager for Best Buy Remix. We frequently exchange ideas & Keith provides me with techie info.

Keith expressed his frustration & concern about how to gather & review conversations on Twitter, FriendFeed, etc. In addition we sometimes want to share quotes or provide qualitative information to our management.

It is true that the conversations on Twitter seem nebulous & lost forever. We know that we can use to gather tweets on certain topics, but as Keith pointed out, how do you transfer that to a Word doc or spreadsheet for reporting?

This prompted me to explain how Techrigy SM2 makes that possible, but it took a quick demo to show how nice it is to search for the topic and pull in the Tweets (as well as other information). Because SM2 is built on a database, the search results can be reviewed in a number of ways. Filters allow you to look at results for a certain day or time period, or on a certain subject. And you can create subcategories. This allows you to focus on a certain topic and become really granular.

When I showed Keith that he could easily export the information by xml or xls the light bulb went on. Keith realized that SM2 could:

  • extract the conversations out of the noise
  • organize them into manageable categories
  • ability to export the information for reporting
  • import the information from SM2 into another ‘container’ to provide value back to his community

I have more coming on the last one. Keith told me about his brilliant idea today!

Feb 4, 2009 0 Comments

Seth Godin: Not one major new consumer brand built in the last five years was built on the back of advertising

It’s all social and social is exponential:

The leadership today is about 10 people bringing you 100 and 100 bringing you 1,000. When you have 1,000 true fans, as Kevin Kelly talks about, then they’re the people who are going to turn it into a movement. Not you. Your job is to take care of and feed and nurture those 1,000 people, and those people need to go to their network of people who know them and trust them, who eat dinner with them, and bring them in. It’s not for you to somehow beam your message to strangers and convert them, because you can’t convert strangers anymore. Not one major new consumer brand built in the last five years was built on the back of advertising. Google and Facebook, etc. are built because one person brought another one by the hand, not because someone bought ads on the Super Bowl.”

Seth Godin from a Wired interview.