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Monitoring & Analyzing Social Media

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

Category: Usability

Jan 28, 2009 0 Comments

Comparing the SM2 Freemium Account and SM2’s paid Professional Accounts

As part of Techrigy’s outreach to the growing social media marketing community we offer a Freemium (free) version of SM2, our best in class social media monitoring and analytics solution. SM2 Freemium is a fully functional version of the Pro paid versions of SM2 with several minor differences:

  • Keywords are limited to five keyword phrases. Pro Accounts have unlimited keywords. Both accounts have unlimited search Profiles.
  • The number of Results (conversations) you can have in your SM2 Freemium Account is limited to 1000 while the Pro Accounts start at 20,000 results. With both types of accounts results can be cleared and new searches run.
  • Freemium Accounts do not support Advanced Boolean search operators. They do support the use of the AND operator and excludes.
  • Freemium Accounts do not have some of the board and review site sources included in the Pro Accounts.

We designed the Freemium SM2 version to provide robust search and analysis capabilities nearly identical to our paid versions. They carry no expiration date and there are no limits on users. Freemium accounts are an excellent way to evaluate SM2 by monitoring small brands and campaigns or for sampling results and analyzing those sample sets.
Freemium users considering an upgrade should contact us for a product demo and a fully featured Pro Test Account at sales@techrigy.com.

Jan 16, 2009 0 Comments

SM2 from Techrigy Gets Emotional: Sentiment, Tone and Emotion in Social Media

SM2 has always had a sentiment analysis tool designed to help users track positive/negative opinion on brands across conversations in social media. This week we took the sentiment analysis to an entirely new level by adding tools that measure tone and emotion.

Tone measures the overall tone of a social media conversation on a scale from very positive to somewhat positive to neutral to somewhat negative to very negative. With this tool you can now view results sorted by these criteria and combine them with other metrics like Popularity. If you are doing reputation management, for example, you might want to focus on high Popularity sources that are very negative for your initial engagement efforts.

tone-chart

Emotional Tone is a different kind of look. We offer the ability to view results that show strong emotional and even physical responses:

emotionchart

The emotive states we cover include:

Anger, Sadness, Social, Family, Friend, Anxiety, Bio, Body, Sexual, Ingest, Achieve, Home, Money, Religious, Death and Leisure-related. For example, Ingest-related would include references to eating, drinking, dieting, etc. The chart above is from a search on Obama’s Renew America campaign done with the AD Council so it accurately has emphasis on Social and Achieve-related emotional tone. The initiative is a volunteer service so those talking about it in social media are generally very positive and interested in the social and achievement aspects of the campaign.

As we continue to add additional features we’re always interested in feedback, ideas and examples of how you are using SM2 and what would be useful to you. Just shoot a note to support at techrigy dot com.

Dec 21, 2008 0 Comments

Exciting New Features in SM2!

Over the past months I’ve been gathering suggestions for feature requests. Being involved in product development is an exciting part of my job. When you can evolve the product for the customer’s needs & wishes it has to be going in the right direction!

Aaron Newman & company created prototypes of the features. It’s awesome to have access to them along with the instructions, ‘See if you can break it’. *grin*

Techrigy SM2 was updated today and we have new features!

  1. The sentiment engine was updated & we’ve added ‘Tone’ in addition to ‘Sentiment’. I documented them not long ago so I will be sharing that in an upcoming post.
  2. In ‘Compare Trends’ you can now filter by Category!
  3. In View Results, you can now select ‘All results’ and perform actions on them (whether that is deleting them or assigning them to a new category).

I will highlight numbers two & three in this post.

Compare Trends has new functionality

In Compare Trends you can now filter by Category.

This was my idea because intuitively I wanted to view the Media Types for each particular Category. You now have the Category drop down menu to do just that!

image

Ability to do Bulk Actions in View Results

Before the addition of this option to Apply to All Filtered Results you had to do actions in batches of 250 at a time. Now you can do as many as you’d like by clicking this box. I called it the magic button when I was testing it. You can use it to affect the 1,620 results in the following ways:

  • delete the results
  • mark them as spam
  • assign them to a category
  • remove a category assignment

image

We are always open to suggestions & ideas! Please let us know what your wish list is.

Aug 29, 2008 0 Comments

How many results will there be? How big an account do I need?

These questions are understandably common given that our pricing is based on total number of results in your account. I hear them everyday as I work with prospective customers who are doing proposals for social media monitoring (yes, I do help with developing your business model around SM2- shoot me a note if you’d like to know more).

Given that even a moderately well-known brand can generate large numbers of results, it is important to have some idea of what you’re getting into before you commit to a plan. We have developed a tool to help with this.

First let me define ’search results’ within SM2. Search results are any mention of your keyword(s) in social media. They might be a blog post, a Tweet, a comment on a wall, a forum post, a wiki entry, etc. However, a search result is much more than that. It is also a set of data points that we collect that are associated with that result. These include all kinds of things including any demographic info, tags and categories, Alexa, Technorati and PageRank data, geo-location, etc. Up to 35 fields depending on what’s available in publically accessible places (we don’t violate EULAs).

This is important because we use that data to build our analysis of your results.

Back to the estimator tool. When you’re planning a social media monitoring project you can contact us and we’ll run your keyword phrases through the tool (it’s internal) to get you a ballpark estimate of how many results we have in our ever-expanding database aka the ’social media warehouse’. This gives you, and your client or team, an idea of the expense required to accurately measure the full response in social media- before you commit to a plan.

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Aug 21, 2008 0 Comments

SM2 is not a search engine

We had an interesting conversation here at Techrigy headquarters about our technology with a guest who came by to learn about what we do. And we ran into a common misconception about SM2: That it is some kind of search engine. While it has some search capabilities, search is not its primary function.

Search solves a problem: finding specific answers to queries.

SM2 solves different problems: Finding references to specific terms across social media conversations and content and understanding who is having those conversations, what they’re saying and why. Unlike search, which seeks to supply the best answer(s), SM2 offers up all the possible results and then provides tools for organizing and understanding all of the relevant results.

SM2 has two components. There is a collection system that goes out and collects new social media results on an ongoing basis and stores those results in our Social Media Warehouse. Each result, which might be a blog post, a Tweet, meta data from a YouTube video, etc., is parsed for various data within that result. This data includes public information about the person who created the result such as location, gender, age, etc, any tagging or categorization the user has provided, things like DNS records and IP addresses, URLs, Alexa and Technorati data, etc. Each result can have up to 30 or more data fields in SM2.

The warehouse grows every day. We recently bypassed the 500 million results level and will rapidly hit one billion results as social media participation explodes. Each of those billion results will have multiple data fields which SM2 users can access. Obviously understanding all of this is a challenge. That’s where the second component of SM2 comes in.

The SM2 application front end is a set of tools for discovering conversations and understanding them without having to manually go through them one by one. Set-up gives you the ability to tailor the things you wish to monitor by using keyword phrases, excludes (phrases you do not want to find), whitelists (sources you specifically wish to monitor), etc. Once you run your search, SM2 goes into the warehouse and brings back all the results it finds that match your set-up and analyzes them. After the initial search it continues to bring back results as they are added to the warehouse until you terminate the search.

The analysis tools SM2 provides are extensive, comparable in some ways to web metrics tools like Google Analytics- except that they are very focused on the humans behind the conversations rather than traffic sources and patterns. They look at sentiment, gender, age, location, popularity, trends and themes, categories, etc.

For people who are very used to the search engine model, these differences are a little challenging to grasp. The key lies in understanding how social media differs from the traditional or web 1.0 Internet. Once you grasp that social media is primarily about communication the difference becomes easier to understand.

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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.

Finally.