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!

22 social media management tools - a wiki in development

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Social media management tools can help businesses listen to, manage, measure and respond to conversations about their brand on the social web.

With more and more social media management tools springing up on the market, it’s hard to keep track of what’s out there. So we’ve come up with a list…

Please think of this list as a kind of “wiki” which we will add to over time. We hope it will eventually become a useful social media management tool resource.

  • Argyle social: Social media marketing platform that helps marketers measure and justify the social channel. The system is built on a tracking and URL-shortener giving the user the ability to track social conversions on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Awareness : On-demand social marketing software  to help brands publish, manage and measure across social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, foursquare, and WordPress.
  • Buddy Media: platform of tools allows for Facebook page management and engagement.
  • Context Optional: cross-platform social marketing solution to efficiently build, manage, monitor and measure brand presence across the social web.
  • Conversocial:  helps increase engagement, manage interactions and respond to customers on Twitter and Facebook. It also helps plan  updates and enables you to assess what type of content resonates the most with your fans and followers.
  • CoTweet: enables companies to engage in marketing and response-driven customer service activities on Twitter.
  • Expion: a unified database that aggregates and tracks all employee and customer social interactions to help profile customers, identify advocates and critics, track behaviors and create best employee practices.
  • Hootsuite: one of the few tools that currently allows users to integrate and update across 10 social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare etc .
  • Involver: provides marketers with a “social markup language”, SML™, an engagement platform and customizable social applications from which to create and monitor content.
  • MediaFunnel: offers offers brand monitoring, scheduling, multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  • Objective Marketer: a social media marketing and campaign management solution to engage and reach users on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and other social channels, it aims to make it easy f to manage multi-channel communication while providing comprehensive analytics and reporting.
  • Postling: allows for  blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts to be managed from a single system.
  • Shoutlet: offers a multi-user application that helps build, engage, and measure social media marketing communication via one platform.
  • SocialTalk: provides integration with Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and MoveableType.
  • SocialVolt: a complete social media management platform that integrates the tools needed to engage with clients on the social web.
  • SpredFast : according to Jeremiah Owyang’s blog, (a great resource for finding out more about some of these management tools) SpredFast aim to position their product as collaborative campaign management and offer features such as scheduling content, and features that integrate with events and social stream like features similar to Friendfeed.
  • Sprinklr: Sprinklr’s SIREn (Social Intent Revelation Engine) platform is a comprehensive enterprise grade SaaS social media management system.
  • Strongmail:a traditional email marketing platform that tracks the multi-stage sharing activity of a campaign all the way to conversion and provides feedback on Facebook fan page wall posts.
  • Syncapse: product portfolio includes SocialTALK, a hosted SaaS solution that helps enterprises create, publish and measure their social media content strategy and posting schedule.
  • This moment Distributed Engagement Channel: the system allows you to publish content, moderate user-generated comments and track and optimize channel performance.  They also have features such as ID integration, media handling, and reporting.
  • Vitrue:  integration with Facebook and Twitter, they offer scheduling features, and the ability to link multiple Facebook pages together.

Additions to the list since the post was made:

  • Datasift: enables filtering and augmentation of social data to help you filter out the noise and find the information that is valuable to your business and customers.
  • MutualMind: Primarily to help PR and marketing teams analyse and monitor the social web, the tool also has an engagement platform with an integrated response system.
  • Assistly: social media management tool aimed to help with real-time customer service via email, self service FAQs, chat, and social networks.
  • Sendible: sendible is a platform for engaging with customers, measuring results and monitoring your brand across multiple social media channels at once.
  • Get Satisfaction: gives a better social support experience, increases SEO and improves customer loyalty.
  • Offerpop: end-to-end, white label campaign tools for Facebook and Twitter.
  • Hyper Alerts: sends an email when comments are posted on Facebook fan pages.
  • Posthelpers: an enterprise social selling platform for localizing news, deals and offers across an organization’s multiple Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and LinkedIn profiles.
  • eCairn: Aggregate conversations, trending topics and bookmark insights to help with your engagement strategy.
  • Stuzo: Dachis group owned social media management tool that enables  cross-platform (Facebook,Twitter, YouTube, etc.) social experiences and allows  clients to manage multiple social programs from one unified interface.
  • Valuevine: social media and location-based marketing and analytics software for multi-location brands.
  • Sprout social: cross-platform social media management tools that enable you to find new customers and to grow your business.
  • Skyttle: Facebook analytics for community insights and measurement
  • Zeitgeist & Coffee: a real-time marketing collaboration and management platform which includes idea exchange, content development environment, assignment and approval dashboard, posting hub, and monitoring and an analysis tool.

Twitter and Facebook follow Foursquare - 2010 is the year of location-based social media tools

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Where is @mattrhodes?It is a truth universally acknowledged that everybody makes predictions at the end of a year about ‘the big thing for next year’. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong. And sometimes you only really start to notice trends and change when you are in them. In social media it is becoming clearer and clearer that the big thing for 2010 is location-based tools.

We’ve posted before about how businesses can use Foursquare and only yesterday about Fourwhere, the Foursquare and Google Maps mashup. Foursquare is a great tool that lets you share where you are and add tips and reviews of cafes, shops, restaurants, bars, theatres. Anywhere really. From a business perspective it can offer invaluable insight into who visits your business, how often, what they think about it and where else they go. All good stuff. Of course, there is a serious downside to location-based tools (as we saw with Please Rob Me) and people should be aware of and sensible about any information they share in social media.

Why are location-based social media tools growing?

Location based social media tools are possible because more and more people own mobile phones that are GPS enabled. Phones that can tell you where you are and plot this information on a map. This is then data that can be shared with others or used in conjunction with discussions, reviews and other information to build a resource and community that is location-dependent.

There are many instances where location can add significant value to an online community:

  • People reviewing cafes and bars in a certain area and recommending places people might like to visit
  • People sharing tips of good and safe running routes
  • Groups of local activists looking to organise themselves
  • Parents wanting to find other parents near them to help organise safe walking to school
  • People wantingto identify and report on things that need mending in their neighbourhood
  • Friends wanting to share their location and tell others where they are

The utility of location in social media is huge and there are many cases where tying location to reviews, discussions and other content will really help, either for those generating the content or those looking for and benefiting from it. Adding in location could also save us from updates that say “Iam at…” with that information instead being tagged as in the tweet above. You can use the update to say something that has real semantic value rather than just indicating where you are.

What’s happening and what’s coming

Location-based tools are not new but they are growing and new developments are happening all the time as people use them more and in different ways. Some important developments recently discussed are as follows.

  • Twitter: Twitter has for some time allowed users to tag their updates with their location details - this has mainly been done through third-party apps, such as Tweetdeck, and to date locations have not been shown on Twitter’s own website. Briefly this week they started showing location on Tweets on their site - with maps overlaying tweets on both the individual tweet page and on the main stream. This update was quickly disabled but adding this back in would certainly add significant value to the Twitter site and pave the way for search for people and issues that are trending ‘near me’ - based on where people are when they share their information and not where they say they are in their location.
  • Foursquare: Foursquare is growing in use and in the ways in which people are using it. The most significant recent development is increased analytics for businesses. They have recently introduced a dashboard for businesses to see information about who had ‘checked-in’ at their location. This reports on when people check-in, how they communicate this (do they share it on Twitter, for example), the people who visit them most often and those who visit most recently. This is useful and valuable information for any brand as it lets you start to understand your customers in a way that you haven’t previously been able to do. Brands should be taking advantage of Foursquare and of the ability to control their profiles (adding in ‘Staff’ for example) and should use this dashboard and analytics in a clever way to inform their understanding of their customers and identification of their advocates.
  • Facebook: Perhaps the most interesting announcement this week is talk of developments at Facebook to include location features. The speculation is that location will accompany status updates and changes to Facebook’s Terms and Conditions last November appear to have been made in preparation for this (“When you share your location with others or add a location to something you post, we treat that like any other content you post.”) Sharing location in Facebook status updates would highlight both the importance of mobile use of Facebook and of the spread of location-based social media tools. It will also add yet another set of data that Facebook captures, can report on and can be used by other users to find people, information and discussions. It will be interesting to watch both what Facebook release and how users use it, but it is likely to yet again highlight the importance of search to Facebook as the amount of data and content it captures grows.