SoDash: bringing artificial intelligence to social media monitoring

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Screenshot of SoDash - social media monitoring tool with artificial intelligenceKeeping track of discussions surrounding your brand or competitors is crucial for successful social media monitoring and listening. One challenge is the sheer range and volume of conversations that take place online, and determining what to do with them.

Sentiment analysis is a difficult task to automate as irony and sarcasm can generate false results, affecting accuracy. Being able to identify what action a posting needs, if any, is also difficult, as spam or bot messages might drown out genuine users.

We spoke to Simon Campbell about the exciting approach SoDash has taken to social media monitoring. SoDash uses artificial intelligence which means the tool can be “trained” into determining the sentiment and category of a social media posting. This advanced approach to social media monitoring can potentially result in greater effectiveness at gathering intelligence from online conversations, and reacting to them appropriately.

What do you feel is the most accurate definition of a social media management tool?
I think the key is how you define “management”. There are a lot of social media monitoring and reporting tools, but I think the real value comes from engagement, which is something the traditional offerings in the market do quite poorly. I think the most accurate definition for the perfect social media management tool would be: A tool that helps you “monitor”, “filter”, “engage with” and “report on” social media in the most efficient way by automatically identifying opportunities and reducing workload through improved workflow.

Why do you think they are valuable to brands or businesses (ie, time savers etc)?

Tools by definition are there to make life easier and the good ones will cleverly filter all of the noise out there in social media, deliver just the relevant messages and provide a much improved work flow so that social media can be managed with minimal resource and maximum efficiency. Businesses need to be able to simply monitor and engage with their customers and prospects within social media as this represents how their brand is viewed and can relate directly to the bottom line.

What do you think is the most accurate way of tracking social media activity without using a tool?

It is a fairly laborious task without using any tools at all as it involved creating individual searches in things like Twitter and manually monitoring them, and setting up Google Alerts for numerous phrases and again, manually checking them all in the different places. There are some free tools that go some of the way to help monitor (such as TweetDeck) but they still rely on someone sitting in front of it all the time and it does not do anything especially clever except for pulling in the information to one place.

Explain how SoDash works and why it is an effective tool for social media management.

SoDash is a social media dashboard for brands and organisations to monitor and interact with the market. The reason it is unique owes to its artificial intelligence algorithms that learn what is important to your business through tagging. Once trained, it will automatically tag messages that are sales leads, positive or negative comments about your brand or competitors, deliver market information, ghost write and send responses and much more. Whilst some tools out there are good for monitoring social media, SoDash enables you to take control of social media and make it work for you with minimal resources.

What platforms does SoDash cover?

SoDash currently covers Twitter and Facebook with full monitoring of blogs, forums, YouTube, LinkedIn and others coming in September. We can currently also link to any specific source if requested. It is important to understand about engagement in the different platforms. Twitter is by far the most engaging, as it is an open platform. Facebook is great if you have a page with lots of fans that you need to manage but you cannot access and engage with private profiles.

How are you different from other social media management tools on the market?

SoDash is unique because it has in-built artificial intelligence which enables it to be trained to filter, recognise and tag messages based upon the criteria that is important to your business. Due to the artificial intelligence algorithms, it is also much more accurate when looking at things like sentiment analysis as again it is trained in relation to all aspects of the messages, including the structure, punctuation and person messaging, not just positive or negative words as with other tools. Essentially, other tools on the market have been developed to focus on monitoring whereas SoDash is built for engagement with monitoring as a given.

Who do you see as your main competitors?

Companies that use SoDash might also look at Radian6 or CoTweet. Both were built initially with monitoring and reporting in mind and, as with other tools on the market, they do not incorporate artificial intelligence so are reliant on manual filtering and responses. We have come across agencies who might continue to use something like Radian6 alongside SoDash although SoDash will soon be able to offer the full breadth of monitoring and reporting to cover all angles. Another of the features that customers are highlighting as a strong aspect of SoDash in comparison to other tools is the ease of use.

What sort of future developments can we expect to see from SoDash?

With the core functionality in place, the SoDash roadmap now focuses upon bringing on more channels/platforms and the automation of more specific reporting, especially to cover internal factors such as response times to messages (all of which can be provided now if requested). There are also some really cool advances that no one else has on the radar right now, but you will have to wait to see those!

Social media influencers 2010 – download the final report

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image courtesy of shutterstock

Following on from the success of our social media monitoring tools review earlier this year, we’ve been testing  nine of the leading social media monitoring tools in order to assess how effective they are at identifying influencers.

We’ve tested Attensity 360, Brandwatch, Radian6, Alterian, Scoutlabs, Sysomos, Synthesio, PeerIndex and Social Radar using the subject  of  “organic baby food” as the test topic for our report.

We felt it would be interesting to see how well each of the tools could help identify influencers for this much-discussed topic. Will the tools pick out key “mummy bloggers” and frequently visited forum posts in parenting sites such as Mumsnet and BabyCentre?

Download our social media influencers report 2010 to find out

We’d like to thank all the tool providers for enabling us to carry out this report. We’d also like to  give a special mention the following people for their comments and opinions about influencers, which have been included in the report: Chris Brogan, Jay Baer, Murray Newlands, Louise Parker and Kelly Pennock.

5 things to consider when engaging social media influencers online

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Image courtesy of Jack Monson

With the launch of our social media influencers report this Friday 3rd December, we thought it would be useful to think more about how to engage with influencers online.

Our report road tests how well nine of the leading social media monitoring tools - Attensity 360, Brandwatch, Radian6, Alterian, Scoutlabs, Sysomos, Synthesio, PeerIndex and Social Radar - can identify  social media influencers. But once you have identified your influencers, how do you go about engaging them online?

Here a few things we feel that all brands and businesses should consider before engaging with their influencers:

1. Get to know your influencers

Before you jump in and start engaging with your influencers, be sure  listen to the conversation that is taking place on the blog, forum or social media platform where you are going to engage with them.

Read through previous discussion threads, conversations or any other relevant information you can find so that you can learn more about your influencer, what they are saying and how they are saying it.

Perhaps you could even segment by type of influencer, or the value they could potentially have for your brand (eg, spreading word-of-mouth about a product launch, reviewing your product or services etc).

This will help you use the appropriate tone and content for engaging with your influencer when the time is right.

2. Learn when to engage…and when not to

There’s no need to take part in all conversations with your influencers; sometimes the topic may be relevant, sometimes it might not. Sometimes it just won’t be appropriate for you to get involved with an influencer at all.

This will call for you to use your own judgement. Perhaps think about how much value you can add to a conversation or discussion. Or, assess how would you react in an offline scenario - would you join in the conversation or not?

Finally ask “what’s in it for me?”

If you can see no value in engaging with the influencer then don’t bother. Just because they’ve been identified as a potential influencer for your business doesn’t mean you have to engage with them.

3. Build an honest relationship with your influencers

As New Media Age commented in an article about engaging with “mummy bloggers“, it is important to be “authentic, accept criticism, not patronise and ask, not tell”. This is sound advice to anyone wishing to engage with influencers.

In order to build a successful relationship with your influencers you must think of all interaction as a way of building up a relationship. You should be looking at influencers as potential partners; as people who can champion your brand. Make them feel like an insider - they have a key position in your market place as they both speak to and represent your target audience, so treat them with the respect that they deserve.

Be mindful that influencers are giving you their time and expertise so make them feel valued and acknowledge their contributions.

4. Don’t go in with the hard sell

Yes, some influencers will be aware that you have a commercial interest in them.  And while some are commercially astute, there are always other who eschew all commercial influence.

Instead of pushing your own agenda, expand conversations beyond your specific products, brand or messages. Think about the wider topic at hand and then build up a relationship with them before discussing anything too commercial.

5. Be realistic about the results you will achieve

When  engaging with influencers it is important to understand the difference between affecting and controlling perceptions. While engaging influencers will go some way to affecting the perception of your brand and products, you cannot entirely control the outcome of your efforts.