“In Latin America, the tradition of social media measurement is still based on quantitative data”

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Carlos Villa

Interview with Carlos Villa, CEO of buho, a social media intelligence company in Colombia.

Hi Carlos, what is your professional background, and what does your current role at buho consist of?

I went to the University in Bogota, Colombia, and graduated as an Industrial Engineer. I then completed an MBA degree at IESE Business School in Barcelona. As a founding partner and CEO of buho, I need to be sure that we focus our efforts on what is relevant for our business, and that the whole team has the resources to be able to achieve their goals, and have a good time doing so.

What differs buho from other social media intelligence companies in Colombia?

We give clarity to our customers; we let them know what all the data on social media really means. In Latin America, the tradition of social media measurement is still based on quantitative data. We can say that the quantitative data is the raw material for the qualitative evaluations that we make of the data. We provide evaluation that is not made solely by technology, but by a group of talented people that understand the particular needs of our customers.

We have a close relationship with all of our customers, and we get together on a regular basis with them. This is crucial so that we can understand their strategic priorities, and also important for them to really understand what the data means, and how they can use it to make strategic decisions.

What type of companies benefit from your services, and where are your current customers mainly based?

While we work with different sectors of the economy, 60 percent of our business (both traditional and social media evaluation) comes from the private sector, which includes financial, telecommunications, gas and energy, as well as mass consumption products. The rest of our business includes the Colombian public sector, such as the Presidency of Colombia, political campaigns, and quite a few public institutions throughout our country.

Although our operation is based in Bogota, 50 percent of our invoicing comes from abroad – the United States, Spain, Mexico and Guatemala – are our main international markets.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at buho when it comes to serving your customer analysis and developing your offer?

I divide the challenges into three categories, which are also related to my first answer as far as my role as a CEO:

  1. Having the best possible team – We need to be sure that we have the best people available in their respective areas of expertise.
  2. Innovation and technology – We dedicate 3 percent of our annual income to innovation. We need to catch up with the crazy rhythm of how communications are taking place today. The Brexit, the USA elections, and our local process with the Colombia peace referendum, are clear examples that the traditional methods of understanding communications are not working anymore. We need to offer our customers a new approach to data evaluation, while doing so in an efficient and profitable way.
  3. Education – Media evaluation as we do it is something relatively new in the world, compared to the traditional public relations services that are offered globally. And in Latin America, there is almost no tradition at all to invest resources in media evaluation. Therefore, education in order to promote the relevance of media evaluation is crucial for our sales growth.

Do you have any specific plans to expand your business in the near future, like new markets or products?

Our plan for the next four years is to grow an average of 30 percent per year. Fifty percent of this growth should come from markets such as Mexico, the USA and Spain.

Ninety percent of our income comes from media evaluation services. As a consequence of our evaluations, our customers have come to several conclusions; one of them is that although they have a clear PR strategy, they really don’t know how to tell their story to various stakeholders. So, we are now helping our customers to create their stories using storytelling techniques so that they can engage with their audiences. And, afterwards, we measure if the storytelling is really working.

New sources of income should come from other services that complement our evaluation products, like focus groups and spokesperson trainings. Those new services, in addition to the ones developed by our buho lab team, should represent 30 percent of our total invoicing by the end of 2020.

Can you give a specific example where one of your clients has made changes in their communication, organization or similar, based on the information or analysis you provided?

It’s difficult to choose one after eight years of providing service to our customers, but one of them comes to my mind.

For confidentiality reasons, I can’t get into specifics, but an American association funded by the government has been established in Colombia for a few years now. Their goal is to promote the relevance of a specific product and hope that the consumers take into account that product when they make their purchase decisions.

They made a social media campaign to promote the benefits and attributes of the product, and they asked buho to help them understand the impact that their campaign had.

After our first evaluation, we told them not to waste any money on someone that will tell them how many likes, tweets, retweets they had, or who the influencers that interacted with their campaign were. What we proposed to them was to evaluate how a significant part of the users that interacted with their campaign used their personal social platforms. The output was a profile of the users that interacted with the campaign, segmented by gender, age, and with rich information on the way that those users used their personal social profiles. We analyzed Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest in this process.

Our customer used that data to design a new campaign with specific content according to the platform they were using, and taking into account the preferences of their audiences.

Which social platforms do you see having the most potential in the future when it comes to gathering relevant information for your customers?

In Latin America, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube will still be kings in the next five years.

Are there any social platforms that are closed today that you would be interested in tapping into for analysis that would benefit your customers?

Facebook is a closed platform, so it is not possible to get access to a big volume of data. We are more concerned with how to measure Snapchat; even though it is sort of an open network, the way that it functions presents a real challenge as far as how to measure it.

But the biggest challenge comes from the relevance that messenger apps, such as WhatsApp, serve as a communication and influence tool.

How do you think the measurement and social media intelligence industry will change in the next five years?

They will become the main source of information for people in general – news, products, marketing and entertainment. All the information will be searched for and discussed on social networks, which will become the largest source of consumer data available. This will bring new challenges for every kind of company, and buho is here to help our customers to understand and make sense of all the available data.

By Renata Ilitsky

The Rich Taste of US Food Blogs

Most countries are known for their regional cuisines; Italians love their pasta, France is known for escargots and India is famous for curry. However, there is no real consensus on what American food is. Is it hot dogs, apple pie or hamburgers? We interviewed three American food bloggers so you can decide for yourself.

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Dan bing

Food-verse

Tesia Kuh’s blog Food-verse is the perfect example of what Americans eat, a smorgasbord of food from around the world. Her blog may scare some newbie cooks away with fancy titles, such as ghormeh sabzi, dan bing, and garlic soy soba noodles, but the names are just representatives of their host regions, which are the Middle East, Taiwan, and Japan.

In an exclusive interview, she Tesia, who works for Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, shared her motivation for starting the blog: “I started blogging first through photos on Instagram. I wanted to show what I made at home and when I got such a positive response, eventually I wanted to tell others how they can make it for themselves.”

What’s special about this blog is that Tesia shares a little bit about herself in each recipe, such as where she got the idea, how she came to make the dish, etc. Regarding dan bing (Taiwanese egg roles), she wrote, “It reminded me of a Korean rolled omelet side dish I grew up eating but with an added crepe! Egg, crepe, Asian street food that you can eat with your hands! Whenever utensils are optional I can hardly contain my excitement.” Regarding the garlic soy soba noodles, she shared: ‘This was my I’m too lazy to cook, too lazy to go out and get food but hungry for something delicious – meal experiment that turned out so well I made it again the very next day.”

The Perfect Steak
The Perfect Steak

Grillocracy

Americans are known for their love of meat, particularly barbeque. Grillocrazy serves to meat-lovers around the country, with practical tips, recipes and advice on grilling and barbecuing.

Written by Clint Cantwell, called the “backyard griller on steroids” this grillmaster wears many hats! He is the Editor of Grillocracy and Kingsford, video content director of AmazingRibs.com, pitmaster of Smoke in da Eye competition barbecue and grilling team, and winner of Travel Channel’s “American Grilled.” He has recurring grilling segments on both CNN’s HLN and WREG-TV. It’s safe to say that Clint knows his meat!

Why does he blog?

“Being a blogger allows me to scratch my creative itch, creating countless out-of-the-box recipes for a global audience of grilling fans. The only disadvantage is the time involved in creating new content on a consistent basis.”

His recipes are carefully categorized in easy to find sections, such as grilling beef, grilling poultry, grilling fruits and vegetables, and grilling dessert (yes, you read that correctly). What’s unique about Clint’s food blog is that he doesn’t just share recipes, but provides advice on the entire grilling and barbecuing experience. For example, he has a “How To” section where he shares tips on using spices, adjusting smoking times and smoking turkeys. He even has a link to reviews on different grills and smokers.

Tasty Breakfast
Tasty Breakfast

Aluminum Foiled Kitchen

Many Americans are on the health trend diet, as evidenced by this young blogger, Judith Rontal. At just 20-years-old, she lost 60 pounds by changing her diet and lifestyle, which she shares on her blog Aluminum Foiled Kitchen. Living in Washington, D.C., Judith blogs about local cooking as well as cooking when she travels.

Her blog is fun and original; she doesn’t title her blog posts simply by the name of the dish, but uses titles such as: “When You Have 20 Pounds of Peaches…”, “What I should Eat for Breakfast Today,” and “Not My Mom’s Apple Cake.”

What was your motivation for starting the blog?

“I started the blog as a way to share what I was making with friends and family (beyond texts and Snapchat). I’ve always loved baking and cooking and discovered the world of food blogging when I started expanding my knowledge in the kitchen and wanted to get some inspiration. I’m an avid reader of Smitten Kitchen and one of my favorite parts of her site is the comment section under her recipes – she responds to so many questions! I’ve learned from her and want to be able to help others out in the same way she has helped me.”

“My blog was started as something for me, so I like that its message is intimate and very personal. I hope to keep that as I share it with people who I don’t know – hopefully it’ll be a way for them to feel like they get a sense of who I am as a person without meeting me!”

From ethnic dishes to barbecue and healthy options, Americans love a variety of food.

If you need access to food blogs and global blog data, you can find everything you need at Twingly.com

By Renata Ilitsky

“In 2017 we will see a monumental shift in how people spend their ad money”

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Moses Velasco

Interview with Moses Velasco, Chief Product Evangelist at Socialbakers, a global social media analytics company

Hi Moses, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Socialbakers?

My background for the last 18 years has been in technology; I worked in intellectual law in Silicon Valley and then moved on to product management and to VP of product roles. Right now, as Chief Product Evangelist, I have a cool job. I have the opportunity to travel and speak to different markets and use that information to inspire or influence our product development and product teams. I really enjoy it.

What differs Socialbakers from other social media analytics platforms?

Socialbakers started as an analytics provider and solution to measure social performance across various platforms in 2008. We’ve been collecting and storing aggregate data since that time, and now our best in class analytics is backed by having depth and breadth of data. I don’t want to say that we are the world’s largest data media storage, but we are close. This allows us to create next generation social media tools; we are leading the pack in this way. We look at social media performance and are able to provide recommendations on what our users should do, how they should invest their money on content that will provide the best results and take out the guessing work of how they can utilize their budget in the best way.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Socialbakers, when it comes to serving your customers analysis and developing your offer?

Analytics have been known as a single point type solution; customers tend to have three to five different vendors to manage social media strategy. The big challenge is that we’re moving to a suite solution to understand that the whole is greater than its parts. By integrating different parts, such as analytics and publishing, users will have more capability of using that data to make the best decisions than with separate vendors.

We’ve seen big improvements with a suite solution in customers’ performance because we help them understand their niches better. Customers are able to see what the most resonating content is, and the best time to publish that content to get maximum visibility. Our prediction algorithm helps them learn what their best content is so they can spend money on great performing content, which yields a greater ROI.

With the type of workflow that we integrated to help customers understand where to invest money, we’ve moved from an analytics type provider to a suite of solutions that help clients measure, manage and monetize across the main social media platforms.

Do you have any specific plans to expand your business in the near future, like new markets or products?

We are focused on ads and content campaign optimization for our customers. We’ve provided third party data integrations with web analytics to show how clients can realize a return on the investment they pay for content, and how that results in higher traffic to their websites.

With the introduction of our APIs, this is moving us closer to providing business intelligence, where we can push and pull data from other platforms. I find that very interesting for our customers and for myself.

In the beginning of the year you introduced Facebook Pages for listening. How well has that played out when it comes to your coverage and client adaptation?

Over the previous years, we recognized that we had a significant gap in the ability to provide an integrated listening product. Our customers told us there was a gap, and we listened (pun not intended). Once we did, our customers adopted it, which helped us provide a more holistic approach to our suite and our solutions.

This is a big benefit and unique selling point for Socialbakers, because we provide listening for free within our packaged solutions. This allows our customers to use and leverage listening to manage their discovery and crisis management, as they need to understand how listening fits into the whole solution. We’re one of only vendors that provides this as a solution for free because it’s integrated in our suite and we want our customers to feel the value of our offering.

What part of your current product has a lot of potential, but not been adopted at the same rate yet by your clients?

Our ads analytics section is something that is going to take off quite heavily. We’re able to provide information about how much clients are spending on ad accounts and what that’s yielding for them. The way we’ve built that into our suite is by showing an entire social performance management solution that allows users to understand when to sponsor their content, what content is getting the maximum value from how much they paid and how it’s affecting their relevance score on Facebook; a high relevance score drives reach and engagement. Our ads section will become a hot topic for us in the next few months.

Which social platforms do you see having the most potential in the future?

Aside from the basics, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, we’ll see the rise of Snapchat and Pinterest. Pinterest is open to a few selected marketing partners, while Snapchat hasn’t opened their APIs for analysis, but are moving in that direction. Our clients and our communities are asking us to support these platforms. We are waiting patiently and working closely with partners to see how this will play out. I also think LinkedIn will have a big play in social media as the platform progresses.

What kind of data, which would help you perform even better analysis, is the hardest to get ahold of?

Right now, we are monitoring very closely how bots are addressing client social interactions. These automated chat bots can help with customer service queries, and will be big part of automation behind customer care. It’s interesting to see how this automation affects the manual processing, and where the lines will blur between automated and manual operations. There will still be a need for the human element, but we’ll see big efficiencies from automation.

With monitoring, we want to see what are the best use cases, is it simply customer service, or is it purchasing or repeat buying? While I think there’s a lot to it, we want to avoid using any of the parts or cases that may be hyped up, so this is something we are considering how to analyze in the not too distant future.

What kind of data or media that you do not have monitoring on today, can be interesting in the future?

For us, more data will become social, as traditional media moves in that direction. Even podcasts or these types of activities will move to social. I don’t think there’s a big hurry to do anything else in that realm, but there will be a shift. We see a lot of that in the traditional advertising spend, which was largely on television, but the digital ad span will surpass the TV ad span in 2017. From this point, this is a monumental shift in how people spend their money, from media and publishing to digital and social. This will be an interesting change that we will monitor more effectively and closely in next few years.

How do you think the media monitoring and social media analytics industry will change in the next five years?

We’ll see less publishers going the traditional route like print. Print is still relevant, but less so as publishers go to social. If you want to be a successful business, you have to adapt to these changes; if you want to reach more audiences, it will have be through social. Social responsibility from companies like Socialbakers is to help those businesses and our prospects understand the value of social and how to leverage the communication channels and the largest consumer data source to be able to interact more effectively with audiences and customers.

By Renata Ilitsky

Three Fashion Blogs From Around the World

NY Fashion Week opens today and fashion means many things to different people. To some, dressing fashionably means following the latest styles from world-known brands, such as Chanel, Dior and Gucci. To others, fashion means expressing their individuality and personal sense of style. Although fashion varies from person to person, there are specific fashion trends that permeate entire countries. Here we take a look at three fashion blogs from around the world – China, Sweden and Canada.

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Elle is not afraid to be bold in her outfit selections. Just take a look at this colorful outfit from Cats Brothers. Wearing this in many parts of the world would likely result in curious looks from strangers, but it may be just right for the daring and often whimsical Asian fashion, which always pushes the edge!

China – Elle Lee

ElleIconLee is a blog by Elle Lee, who lives in Hong Kong. An ex-model herself, she writes about fashion and lifestyle, as well as vlogging on YouTube and writing for fashion columns on several websites.

Elle’s unique angles is that she writes in English and Chinese, and shares looks with both international and regional inspirations with her readers. In an interview with Sassy Hong Kong, Elle describes her style as “less is more,” stating that she likes “designs that are clean, well-made and stand the test of time.”

“Imagine a mash-up between the craftsmanship of Oscar de la Renta, the feminine subtlety of Lanvin, the uniqueness of Maison Martin Margiela and the creativity of Nicholas Kirkwood – mix those with my East meets West background and you get an idea of my personal style,” Elle explained.

We got an exclusive interview with Elle about her blogging:

What was your motivation for starting the blog?

I started my first blog when I was 10-years-old, but it was more of a digital platform to record my life for my family and friends as I was living away from home. Then social media started and I was getting a lot of questions regarding what I was wearing, using etc. So I thought I should start a blog and point everyone there for a more detailed answer.

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For a great example of how Elle mixes high fashion with everyday trends from around the world, check out this photo, where she paired a LABORON evening gown with a Mickey Mouse-shaped popcorn case she used as a clutch at Shanghai Fashion Week!

What are the biggest advantages/disadvantages of being a blogger?

A lot of influencers now only work on social media platforms with few words and strong images, that’s the trend. Writing a blog is very time consuming, especially since I still take care of my social platforms in both Chinese and English. However, I still feel like keeping the blog running as it’s more like a core of what I keep everything on, and people could search and look up content even after 10 or 20 years, which might not be easy to do on social media platforms.

How does it work with the different languages on your blog?

My blog is in both Chinese and English, but I don’t translate them, I write them differently as no language can be expressed in the same way. It’s very time consuming, but I believe it gives readers in Chinese and English a better reading experience. Some readers even use my blog as a way to learn English and Chinese, which I feel is pretty awesome!

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Fanny shares the outfits she wears in her daily life, such as this high-waisted swimsuit from H&M and jean shorts from Melrose market in LA she wore in Greece. She doesn’t only focus on high couture, but shares inspirational ideas for urban, sporty and everyday looks just perfect for active Swedes.

Sweden – Fanny Lyckman

Fanny Lyckman is a Swedish fashion expert. At just 25-years-old, Fanny has created a name for herself in the fashion world. She is not only an award-nominated fashion blogger, but has created a nail polish line in collaboration with NCLA, and designed two collections with the brand Nelly. She is currently working on a fashion line, which she hopes to release this fall.

Although Fanny is a Swedish blogger, thousands of people around the world follow her website and Instagram account. In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Fanny says that she gets her style inspiration from following different people on Tumblr. Online, Fanny likes to shop on Asos; as far as physical stores, she prefers Zara, Urban Outfitters, Beyond Retro, Topshop, H&M and River Island. She shares that she can’t live without her jean shorts, and would never be caught in tax-me heels.

Canada – Jen Tam

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Jen not only posts photos of outfits and names of the designers, but also highlights how the clothes can alter the way the body appears. “The off-the-shoulder crop top from Giulietta and wide-legged, high-waisted Vionnet pants are definitely works of art on their own, but the combined proportions did wonders to flatter my shape and made me seem about six feet tall,” she wrote about this outfit.

Her Waise Choice is a blog by Canadian writer, Jen Tam. Her blog’s motto is that everyone can be stylish without looking down on others or being a slave to fashion. Canadians are known for being friendly and approachable, an attitude Jen strongly believes should be incorporated into fashion, which should be “accessible and not intimidating.” Since 2010, Jen has tried to inspire her readers, everyday women, to dress with approachable style that fits in with Canadian culture.

Jen is not afraid to be brutally honest, which undoubtedly appeals to her readers. For example, in a recent post, she shared: “I’m often still not totally happy with the way a certain piece fits, or I’ll wish I could change a detail or two about an overall look. It’s quite rare for an outfit to be executed in a way where I feel like all the elements really work.”

In a recent interview with Top 100 Style, Jen shares her style rules.

What’s one go-to piece every woman should own?

The perfect pair of black jeans.

Dress up or dress down?

I’ve always been a believer of being a little more dressed up but lately I’ve been more inclined to be comfortable. I think this has something to do with the fact that my style has been evolving into a slightly edgier vibe in the last year or two.

What’s one fashion rule you’re proud of breaking?

No white after Labor day—white is a great tone to wear year round and I especially love white on white winter wear!

If you need access to fashion blogs and global blog data, you can find everything you need at Twingly.com

By Renata Ilitsky

“The social media monitoring we know today and as it would be in 5-10 years, has to be considered a highly strategic activity”

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Gianandrea Facchini

Interview with Gianandrea Facchini, CEO of Buzzdetector, a digital intelligence company in Italy

Hi Gianandrea, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Buzzdetector?

I worked in media and advertising agencies since the 1990s. In 2007, I founded Buzzdetector. My role as CEO is not only to manage the company, but try to be the engine behind the company. I try to look ahead and to get a vision of what’s going on in the market, such as new trends in our business.

I was very lucky because when I started to get into media and digital in general, I landed in a community called MarketingProfs, where I had the chance to interact with professionals such as Ann Handley, Scott Monty, and many others from all over the world. Interaction with prominent figures like them gave me an opportunity to get an early vision of the digital space, widened my vision about what’s going on in the business.

What differs Buzzdetector from other social media intelligence companies in Italy?

We are a rather small company, even if we act globally. We didn’t go for the most advanced technology from the beginning, but rather tried to specialized on decoding the information for our clients. We have our platforms and tools, and are not simply renting the platform, but renting the ability to decode and transfer all the information and insights into reports. This is the main difference; we are very experienced in providing clients with insights, and customized reports have been our key point since the beginning.

What type of companies benefit from your services?

We work mainly with multinational companies and high end clients. Since 2008, we have worked with Nestlé; we worked with Boehringer Ingelheim, a German pharmaceutical company for five years; MSC cruises at the global level since 2011; Versace; and HOMI, the most prominent trade show in Italy.

You have recently done some extensive research about the fashion industry. Why did you focus on that?

When we started thirty months ago, we were just doing a test on some tool to develop and we choose the Fashion Industry because it was the week of Pitti in Florence, but something interesting came out from this research, so we pushed on this analysis, which ended up becoming rather extensive.

We followed the most important fashion weeks (New York, London, Milan, Paris), and all the influential people and VIPs, such as celebrities around the fashion market, became very interesting for us. We collected information and categorized it in a deep way. All the materials we collected have been categorized, such as conversations, fabrics, individuals and brands, which are now in our database. The categorization took extensive work because we understood that the market was and is rather peculiar, and this was one of the markets that was most disrupted by digital. It became interesting for us to follow this market, which is why we developed The Signal. This is a pure digital intelligence project.

We are expanding this research to the movie and the music industries; in fact, we have already started to put this in place since we have the technology backbone, so we just have to fill it up with information.

What are your most important takeaways from your research about the fashion industry?

First, it’s an industry where the most relevant actors are just looking individually for their own way to face the digital disruption. Fashion brands mostly belong to associations in each of the main countries. But, nonetheless, each brand is trying to look for their own way to tackle digital; there’s nothing in common. There’s a lot of confusion, that is the main takeaway.

Second, most of the activity seems to be tactical and not coming from a real strategy. The activity comes after the creation and the unique idea of the designer for that season; the digital becomes part of the tactic to launch the collection, it’s not part of the strategic weapon of the companies.

I used to work in the fashion industry before working in advertising agencies, and I know that the creation of the collection is the main engine of the industry, which is absolutely right. Then there is no real strategy to dominate the media or a strategic approach to digital.

Third, even though we are being told that Twitter is dying or being buried, prominent individuals like celebrities and VIPs in industries like fashion, movies and music are keeping this platform alive because they have huge audiences on Twitter. Rihanna’s Twitter followers amount to double of her Instagram followers, for example. Why would she leave Twitter? She will keep it to communicate with and to sell to her audience. So, one of the main reason Twitter is still being used is because of celebrities and VIPs.

Do you have any specific plans to expand your business in the near future, like expand to new markets or develop products?

The Signal is a new product that we launched two weeks ago. We have a couple of really prominent organizations in the fashion and luxury industries testing it now.

It is a digital platform that we developed in which markets are tackled vertically and where the categorization within the market is making the difference.

For the Fashion and Luxury market we created a dataset of 75 brands, 97 fashion bloggers, 116 celebrities, 49 editors, 58 magazines, etc. We can use the data for public relations, media and celebrity strategy and competitive analysis. The main goal of The Signal is to provide companies with data sets of information that gives real insight and intelligence.

We are proud of the research we published along with Exane Paribas, one of the most important consultancy companies. We produced a piece of research which includes 36 brands in luxury and fashion, the digital environment and how they face the digital environment.

We looked for a link between the moment when collections are presented to the buyers, journalists and to the public, and the moment when people go to look for a product they saw in a collection on an e-commerce platform.

We found that hashtags used during an event, an advertising campaign die immediately after the operation and are not used as a hook to keep customers engaged with the brand. Hashtags are not used strategically to help find a product on an e-commerce platform. We ran a test and saw that the same products run in a completely different way on each e-commerce platform, with none of the descriptions having the same wording.

As a consequence it’s difficult for consumers to find products online. The e-commerce platforms are driving the search and not the brand, which is a problem. Brands are opening their own stores, but they can’t maintain control of the product online as they do in the physical world.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Buzzdetector when it comes to developing your offer?

That’s a good question; the greatest challenge is that whenever we enter into a conversation with multinational corporations, it is difficult to make them understand that it’s not the size of the company that makes a difference, but the overall approach.

We are used to working with these kind of companies. It’s not just a matter of making the technology work; the most advanced monitoring platforms, with hundreds of millions invested in development, provide almost the same results as a small platform if you are good at writing the query.

The real problem is trying to get sentiment analysis that truly works; today it doesn’t work algorithmically. It can be correct 60 to 70 percent of the time when you’re really lucky, and a company can’t make a decision with a 30 percent margin for error.

Are there any social platforms that are closed today that you would be interested in tapping into for monitoring that would benefit your customers?

I would love to see Snapchat’s numbers. The most important platforms of the close future are the messaging platforms where you can’t have access, which I’m not questioning. This is the reason why we’re shifting towards the digital intelligence, collecting information in conversations from the brand’s point of view.

Since we can’t collect conversations as we do on the open platforms, our work has to adapt to the reality of the new platforms taking the market. We as a market have to modify the way we follow conversations to adapt to the new platforms.

What kind of data or media that you do not have monitoring on today can be interesting in the future?

Photos are rather important, as well as videos. I don’t foresee any real solutions in a close timeframe on monitoring them. I’m afraid that photo and video recognition could become the new sentiment analysis of the time, with the accuracy being rather low.

Are there specific or typical needs in the Italian market for social media monitoring that you think differs from the rest of Europe or the world in general?

I see a focus on pure reputation analysis, which disturbs me. Monitoring is not just a matter of perception; social media monitoring is something strictly linked to the strategic approach of a company to the market and its audience. When you’re limiting your analysis to the reputation, you are clearly doing basic work. In my opinion, in the Italian market, pure reputation analysis is still too much adopted. A lot of companies are losing information for growing and expanding their market at home and abroad.

How do you think the media monitoring and social intelligence industry will change in the next five years?

Messaging is impacting the industry because we can’t get in this as we can in other social media platforms. We have to find a way to follow the conversation, but it will be crucial to the organization to control and stimulate the conversation with the customers because they won’t have any other chance to find out what customers are talking about in messages.

This is a call to action to a more proactive strategy on behalf of companies to customers. Whenever you can’t follow the conversation between individuals, the only information you will get is the one around the conversation you can stimulate for them. From a monitoring point of view, this is changing everything because you have to go through more relevant semantic analysis, which is taking the lead of what will happen in this industry in the next five years.

The social media monitoring we know today and as it would be in five or 10 years, has to be considered a highly strategic activity. It has the ability to positively impact an entire strategy, product development, sales, commercial aspects, communication aspects and logistics. Social media monitoring has the ability to impact every aspect of a corporation’s life.

By Renata Ilitsky

How Leonardo helps us shape the future of social data

Leonardo_blogFor every sprint we fight with the priorities to improve our services and products as much as possible for a greater value. Sometimes however you might get stuck in priorities that limit creativity and you might lose track of where you are heading.

So, we introduced Leonardo.

Inspired by Google’s “20% time” we launched Leonardo, for the developers to spend 20% of their work time on future projects that are not included in regular planning. However, they could only choose among a certain number of projects in social data, that all were on our future road map. It could be features, new products, improvements to our systems etc.

They were free to approach the project in any way they liked as long as they constantly logged what they did, so everyone could follow the work, give input or continue the work if needed further on. They could go at it alone or together with someone else.

The purpose is to give the developers more creative freedom, full responsibility at the start of a project that they have selected and a picture of the different parts of our distant future. At the same time it gives us all a better detailed idea of our challenges ahead which helps us prioritize among new projects.

After the team was presented to Leonardo and the projects to choose from (four times more projects than team members), they got three days to choose their first project. Some chose project almost unwillingly and we even had to schedule time in our regular planning for everyone to get started.

Now after 6 months, we are still not fully embracing Leonardo. The big challenge for probably any team is to really set aside 20% of the work time on regular basis. Daily and weekly priorities are made for a reason and that knowledge in relation to available hours sometimes dims the view.

A few projects have come as far as it is possible under Leonardo and waiting to be included in the regular planning, while some have temporarily been abandoned for the choice of other projects. Projects with longer runways to get off the ground have seemed a bit more difficult to get attention, probably because they clash even harder with the short-term of daily priorities.

In our struggle for a more improved effect, the picture of the future painted by our Leonardo is still important every week to keep us on the right track and to see future synergies. We will continue to evaluate and develop Leonardo to generate more value in the future of social data.

If you are running similar projects, please share your experiences and don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions or thoughts about ours.

Why the name Leonardo? Well, Leonardo da Vinci was a genius ahead of his time…

By Pontus Edenberg

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“In the next 5 years there will be more dependence on social media intelligence, which means that the accuracy and speed of analysis will increase”

Mohamed Abdel-Mottaleb - original
Mohamed Abdel-Mottaleb

Interview with Mohamed Abdel-Mottaleb, CEO of Trendak, a social media intelligence company in Egypt

Hi Mohamed, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Trendak?

My background is in nanotechnology; the idea of big data and collecting information regarding nanotechnology in the Middle East is what started me in this field. That eventually got me working with a team to conduct Arabic text analysis and collecting information. We moved from there step by step into social media in the end of 2011.

I am responsible for the day-to-day operations and working with the team to set the strategy for the company and for the products that we sell. I help with sales when the size of the deal allows for me to move around. In addition, I am responsible for looking at the competition and doing business development as well.

What differs Trendak from other social media intelligence companies in Egypt and the MENA-region?

I believe our technology is better than that of many of the competitors we have. Our accuracy in analysis and range of channels that we monitor and analyze is bigger than better than our competitors.

How does your set-up of employees look like and do you work with partners in different parts of the world?

We have 31 employees, 40 percent of which are female. We have a young workforce, with the average age being 31; in fact, the majority of our staff are under 30. Most of the team has a technology background either in software engineering or in data science. The business team has a lot of experience in sales and in running companies. Collectively, we have 120 years of experience between the top management and the sales and the business development team.

We have technology partners in other parts of the world. We use DataSift, and have partnered with Gnip for the last two years. We also have resellers in Europe and in other parts of the Middle East.

Which type of companies benefit from your services?

Marketing companies, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) and media channels. When Ramadan finished recently we did a lot of analysis on the viewership, the actors and television shows that happened during that time, and what the response of the people during the month of Ramadan, a high season for us, was.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Trendak when it comes to developing your offer?

A lot of analysis is required to understand the clientele of our clients. FMCGs or brands need to understand their clientele more, but there are restrictions on understanding that, even in aggregate form. We are happy with the PYLON offering from Facebook to segment the audience we are looking at, yet many other channels aren’t that easy due to restrictions on access to data.

What other challenges do you face in your market?

The biggest challenge we sometimes have with clients in the Middle East, especially international brands, is that they come with a set of specific providers for analysis that would work in Europe or in the United States or Canada, but they don’t have the capabilities to understand the Arabic market. Unfortunately, international brands have worldwide contracts with these companies, so the competition for us with international is quite strong. Many local companies face the problem in the region that they cannot have deep insights, but they are tied into long-term contracts with their providers, which is a big challenge for an area like ours.

Do you have any specific plans to expand your business in the near future, like new markets or products?

Yes we are working very aggressively to enter the worldwide market, specifically Europe. Our biggest advantage is the Arabic language; our accuracy is quite high, and that is where we excel. We want to offer this to countries with a high Arabic speaking audience.

We want to develop, and started developing, offerings in languages that have not gotten enough attention from other companies, such as languages in Africa and the Far East.

How did the Arab Spring change the conception of social media in Egypt and the MENA-region?

I think the effect of the Arab Spring was not only on Africa and the Middle East region, but worldwide. It was one of first times that social media enabled and concretely demonstrated its influence on real life and on the public. Until that point, most of the world was talking about it as a virtual world, and a small sample of the real life audience. The Arab Spring showed that not to be true, that it’s more penetrated, and is a powerful tool to communicate. One of social media’s most important features is being able to provide alternative news sources in almost near real time. This is a tremendous power, and the Arab Spring made everyone understand the importance and effect of social media.

Which social platforms are currently most important for your customers?

This depends on the region of the country you’re talking about; Twitter and Instagram in the Gulf area, Facebook in Africa. We believe that Snapchat and Telegram are also becoming much more important, especially in the regions where the young population is a significant part of the entire population, like in Egypt, where 40 percent of the population is under 25.

Which social platform do you see having the most potential in the future?

That’s not a simple question, but I believe Instagram has a bright future. I believe that one of the two, Snapchat or Telegram, will grow more and more.

Are there any social platforms that are closed today that you would be interested in tapping into for monitoring that would benefit your customers?

Snapchat, as the amount of information that we can access is not that available.

What kind of data or media that you do not have monitoring on today, can be interesting in the future?

Photos, especially photos on Facebook, as the amount of information provided with the photos is not enough. Having access to more of that information would be very interesting for us.

Are there specific or typical needs in the Arabic market for social media monitoring that you think differs from rest of the world in general?

Understanding of the Arabic language and the level of detail you need to be able to understand the text is different from other parts of the world, and it’s not that simple to automate the understanding of this language. Meta data on that information is not sufficient on its own to provide deep insights that clients would like to see.

How do you think the media monitoring and social intelligence industry will change in the next five years?

I think there will be more dependence on it, which means that the accuracy and speed of analysis will increase. The depth of analysis will also increase and insights drawn from it will be instrumental for industries. Again, in an area where the population is quite young, social media will play a more important role than in other parts of the world.

By Renata Ilitsky

“Other global social media monitoring services failed in Brazil because they didn’t understand what kind of customer service our clients require”

Mauricio Brentano
Mauricio Brentano

Interview with Mauricio Brentano, COO of Seekr, a social journey company in Brazil

Hi Mauricio, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Seekr?

My degree is in the area of information systems, so I have a background in technology. My current role at Seekr is COO, and I am responsible for everything having to do with operations in the company, such as technology and customer success. Essentially, the tech team develops and maintains the product, and the customer success team is responsible for contacting and training the clients who will use our platform, as well as helping to fix the technological issues that come up when they use our product.

What differs Seekr from other social media intelligence companies in Brazil?

Seekr is much more than just a social media intelligence company. We believe in a process that we call “Social Journey,” which means that we understand that engagement in social media involves four steps, which are:
1. Listening/Monitoring – We have to find/identify data that provides insights and helps our clients solve problems.
2. Solving the Problem – We offer applications that are useful for customer service on social media. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, as well as email and chat, all have their problems; customers have questions and complaints in these channels and Seekr helps our clients to solve them.
3. Engaging – After solving problems, the company has to make the clients happy. We offer features like publications, which enable our clients to communicate with their clients better and we have social CRM so our clients can see a 360- degree field of their customers.
4. Analyzing – After completing the previous steps, it is important to understand what worked and what has to be improved. For this purpose, we have more than 100 reports, which help them to analyze this entire process.

We are not just a social media intelligence company, it’s just the first step, but we are more complete than that. We have an entire strategy process about how we engage the clients and solve their problems, making them happy.

Which type of companies benefit from your services?

We don’t have a specific type of company that benefits from our services; our clients are in different kinds of industries, such as telecommunications, insurance, television, drink/food, as well as politicians. Everyone wants to make decisions driven by data, and everyone wants to improve their customer care. Any company can use our monitoring platform to get insights on what’s happening in their market and improve their customer care.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Seekr when it comes to developing your offer?

The biggest challenge is the dynamics of the market, and the fact that it constantly changes as people need more information. It’s really hard keeping up to date with what happens in the market and technology. We have to follow the evolution of the market and social media, and what people want to do with social media.

Do you have any specific plans to expand your business in the near future, like new markets or products?

Next year we are planning to release Spanish and English versions, which we are developing for the global market.

In our products, we want to bring more intelligence about analyzed data and more information to help our clients make informed decisions; as well, we aim to increase our channels of providing customer service.

Can you give specific examples where one or more of your clients have made changes in their communication, organization or similar, based on the information or analysis you provided?

We helped a Brazilian telecommunication company implement a strategy that allowed all stakeholders and responsible parties to receive an email alert when a relevant person with a lot of followers and social presence said something negative about their brand. By alerting these individuals, the company was able to manage crises better and faster.

You have recently moved more from collecting data yourself to relying on external suppliers. What have you found most challenging in this transition and why?

We realize that it’s a great effort to collect data ourselves, and some of that data isn’t part of our core service; therefore, we hired an external supplier to provide reliable data. The most challenging aspect of working with a supplier is understanding what kind of data they bring, what the quality of the data is, how it will help us, and how much it costs. Then, we have to make the decision if it is better to keep the data here or to have a supplier that we pay.

Which social platforms are the most important for your Brazilian customers?

Facebook is important, and Twitter sees a lot of interaction between people and brands. Instagram, YouTube and ReclameAqui, which is specific to Brazil, and means “complain here” in Portuguese, are also highly used.

Which social platform do you see having the most potential in the future?

That’s a hard question; I think Facebook will lose users because it’s too global. I think that social media platforms will become more specific, like TripAdvisor for traveling, YouTube for videos, Instagram for photos, etc.

Three years ago, we didn’t have all the platforms we have now; that is why it’s so hard to have any forecast for the future in this market.

Are there any social platforms that are closed today that you would be interested in tapping into for monitoring that would benefit your customers?

I would be interested in Facebook opening their API about public data, which they closed in April of 2015. A lot of customers that made data decisions based on this platform couldn’t do that anymore. Even using companies that sell Facebook data is not sufficient because it’s not in raw mode, but in aggregate mode. We can’t give reports that so and so posted this, just anonymous identifying data, such as the location and gender of the person.

Are there specific or typical needs in the Brazilian market for social media monitoring that you think differs from rest of South America or the world in general?

Other global social media monitoring services, such as Hootsuite, failed in Brazil because they didn’t understand what kind of customer service our clients require. Our Brazilian clients like us to treat them with a “warm” feeling. We prioritize keeping our clients happy by getting in touch with them and becoming close with them, which they like. This limits other companies from coming into Brazil, as they don’t know how to provide this type of customer care.

How do you think the media monitoring and social intelligence industry will change in the next five years?

It’s really hard to forecast, but social intelligence will change greatly. Artificial intelligence (AI) will have many consequences and provide more information to make decisions. Image recognition, personality insights, relationship extraction, and things that take massive data sets, analyze them and convert raw data into good information to make decisions will benefit from AI.

By Renata Ilitsky

“It would be amazing to get access to Snapchat data and analyze the behaviors”

Jonathan Israelsson_edit
Jonathan Israelsson

Interview with Jonathan Israelsson, CEO of Lissly, a social media monitoring company in Sweden

Hi Jonathan, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Lissly?

During the course of my education, I always felt ambivalent between a career in sports and a more traditional path. While I wrote my master thesis in marketing and communication at Stockholm University, I also worked as a soccer coach for teams ranging from youth groups to the premier league for female players. After a couple of years, I realized that I found it more fulfilling to work in the communication and events field. I was responsible for a meeting facility before joining Lissly, but the choice was easy because I could clearly identify another level of customer value.

In my role as partner and CEO at Lissly, my main responsibility is to motivate and support our six employees in succeeding and reaching their full potential. I also engage in customer care, and I regularly attend meetings with our existing customer base. All members of the Lissly team are involved in sales, which means some of my time is devoted to coordination and support.

What differs Lissly from other media monitoring and social intelligence companies in Scandinavia?

That is a difficult question! When meeting with customers and industry colleagues, it seems apparent that all players have the same type of monitoring sources, which makes the competition fierce. Lissly has chosen to focus on the Nordic market, specifically Sweden and Norway. We consider ourselves a strong brand because we understand how social media works in Sweden. We always strive to provide statistics as a basis for our offerings, and a lot of variables in social media mentions allow us to generate interesting insights using a mix of statistical frameworks and a slight touch of finesse. We always try to adapt to the new demands and changing landscape of the market, which means implementing new channels in our analysis and comparing with existing customer data to maximize the customer’s value.

Which type of companies benefit from your services?

Lissly has a wide range of customers, but we are particularly strong with the Swedish trade unions and employers’ associations. A growing number of them use our analysis to create opinion and measure the effects of their campaigns. Furthermore, we have experience working with customers from all markets, from local daycare for dogs to the largest agencies in Sweden.

You have recently moved more into analysis than just being a media-monitoring platform. Why is that?

Our customers demanded more information and insights than any tool can provide with automated methods. Therefore, we began to develop our analysis offering together with our key customers to provide answers to what they really need to know from their endeavors in social media. We also invented new types of KPIs, which simply were not possible in the platform environment. The feedback from our customers was overwhelmingly positive, and now we are proud to deliver the greatest possible customer value based on the information available in social media.

Can you give specific examples where one or more of your clients have made changes in their communication, organization or similar, based on the information or analysis you provided?

We created an analysis for one of Sweden’s largest coffee producers, and one of the key insights was the identified behaviors of the different demographics. For example, females between the ages of 25 to 45 were prone to share, late at night between 9 and 10PM, what they are baking for the coffee break the next day. This meant that the coffee producer could adjust the marketing and commercials accordingly.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Lissly, when it comes to serving your customers analysis and develop your offer?

The main challenge is rebranding and creating awareness of our new focus on manual analysis. We are working on communicating these changes and the fact that “Lissly 2.0” is not an update of our tool but rather our core business model. This process is going well, but there are always some potential customers who should realize this sooner rather than later.

All clients have different levels of understanding how social media can be analyzed. Which is the most common misconception that your clients have?

That it’s possible to monitor everything by yourself. It’s possible to get a basic understanding of the situation, but do you really have the time and energy to read everything and understand what the aggregate means? When Lissly applies its expertise and KPIs, it really provides a level of understanding, which is impossible to attain with the traditional tools on the market.

Which social platform do you see has the most potential in the future?

I believe everything related to picture and video will grow. It would be amazing to get access to Snapchat data and analyze the behaviors of one of the largest social media platforms.

Are there any social platforms that are closed today that you would be interested in tapping into for monitoring that would benefit your customers?

There has always been a great demand to monitor the activity on LinkedIn, especially for the B2B customers, which are particularly interested in potential leads and decision makers. This has been impossible with the automated methods available for the monitoring tools, but we have come up with a way to incorporate LinkedIn data in our analysis offering.

What kind of data or media that you do not have monitoring on today, can be interesting in the future?

If I could pick a source to compare to our existing data, it would be Snapchat. The insights would be really interesting for certain markets. We have begun to test the possibilities, but unfortunately only the data from your own account is available, which greatly limits the potential. We are eagerly waiting for the official API, and if it provides a way to collect data, Lissly will be the first in line to implement it in our analysis.

How do you think the media monitoring and social intelligence industry will change in the next five years?

My intuition tells me that everything will be focused on insights. The main focus will be to use all available information to identify the optimal market conditions and key individuals to generate more business. Today, the market is focused on what is being said, but it will shift to what it really means.

By Renata Ilitsky

“AI will be huge in terms of its impact and helpfulness in social media analytics”

Tam Su
Tam Su

Interview with Tam Su, Senior Director of Product at Crimson Hexagon, a social media analytics company with headquarters in Boston, US.

Hi Tam, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Crimson Hexagon?

I have been in tech for about 18 years, having helped start a few. I am currently the senior director of product at Crimson Hexagon. My responsibilities include product design, strategy and user experience.

What differs Crimson Hexagon from other social media analytics platforms?

Great question. Our biggest strength over the other offerings is the strength of our tech platform and the vastness of our data store (the amount of data we store ourselves). Our CTO jokes that we have more public data than anyone on earth, except for the NSA. We have the best analysis platform, and a superior foundation, that is where we lead.

Traditionally, we are weaker on the user experience front, so we have been working hard for the last year and a half to overcome that. Look for exciting announcements from us in the coming months.

You recently received an investment of $20M in Crimson Hexagon; how will that affect your product in the near future?

As mentioned, expect exciting announcements in the next two to three months, as we launch our new offerings. These have less to do with our funding, and more with the fact that we’ve been focused on delivering a world-class user experience.

The funding will accelerate our efforts across the board – across product lines, technology, data sources, and our research pipeline as we get more into deep learning and related AI efforts.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Crimson Hexagon when it comes to serving your customers analysis and develop your offer?

Great question. The greatest challenges for any company in an accelerated growth stage after a big funding event is the danger of not staying focused on the important stuff. In other words, a lot of companies have the tendency to say – we have the money now to spend on things that we didn’t have before, so let’s go after things that maybe we shouldn’t.

We need to stay laser focused on the most important set of needs for our customers. We continue to concentrate on social listening and analysis, with a special focus around insights derived from that data, as we build a road map to better predict customer behaviors using social data.

As we look to the future, we aim to become more prescriptive in what we can recommend to our clients.

About a year ago you introduced image analysis and logo detection. How well has that played out when it comes to quality and client adaptation?

A year ago we launched a rudimentary product; over the last year, we have sharpened those skills and continue to improve the quality of our product in terms of accuracy, volume, etc. It’s not as widely adapted as we hoped, which has to do with analysis maturity. Image analysis is in the early days; this has become an important source of data, but many of our clients are not at that point yet in terms of their journey in social media analysis.

What are the next steps when it comes to enhancing the use of image analysis?

We have an exciting pipeline, looking at scene, object and facial detection. We can tell if a person is in a restaurant or on a mountain top based on a scene. We can detect not only logos, but also items, allowing us to tell if a Starbucks logo is on a mug or on a can of coffee.

Facial detection now allows us to detect sentiment without having to analyze associated text, which may not even exist. If people smile, we know they’re happy, if they are frowning, we know they are not. Being able to discern sentiment straight from the image is huge.

How do you think the development in AI will affect the social media analytics business?

It will be huge in terms of its impact and helpfulness; it’s going to impact a number of areas, ranging from the analysis itself to certain recommendations that we may be able to offer our users. For example, this type of data is best paired with these types of charts. Another example is the idea of being able to recommend actions based on what we see. We can say that this tweet from an influencer is likely to be further amplified with certain promotional; if you promote it, it will likely be amplified by 10 times than what it is now. To be able to predict that and make recommendations is huge.

Another frontier is looking at data information and data ingestion, we are thinking about proprietary data and how AI can help us ingest proprietary corporate data, like chat logs, more efficiently, and be able to then sort through that data, make sense of it, and analyze it more effectively.

Which social platforms do you see having the most potential in the future?

We are very bullish on Tumblr, the third largest network by active users. We have a partnership with them, where we get the entire firehose. We are very excited to see their active user growth trends, and where the entire network will go.

Beyond that, Twitter and Instagram will continue to have bright futures. We are partners with Twitter, and have access to all their data. Instagram is challenging because of their limited API, but hopefully that will change.

Are there any social platforms that are closed today that you would be interested in tapping into for monitoring that would benefit your customers?

Instagram and Facebook are headaches for all of us. We all would like to know what is going on inside Facebook, with respect to the privacy of Facebook’s users. It would be great to get a greater peek in than what we are able to with current channels.

What kind of data, that you would need to do even better analysis, is the hardest to get hold of?

Facebook and Instagram; beyond that, we are curious about the various messaging apps, such as Snapchat, because our clients are becoming curious about them. We would love to get behind the curtains there, with respect to privacy restrictions, to understand what people are talking about and care about.

What kind of data or media that you do not have monitoring on today, can be interesting in the future?

The biggest thing in that regard is working on making our ability to work with proprietary corporate data more robust. We currently have an ingestion mechanism that works. Making it more open and robust so companies can gain greater value is a goal.

How do you think the media monitoring and social media analytics industry will change in the next five years?

The next five years will be very exciting for the whole industry as it grows and matures. A lot of unknowns will be shaken out of the system. Perhaps the biggest change is the ability for platforms leveraging AI to predict scenarios and outcomes in order to prescribe and recommend actions. So, in the next five years we should see that technology developing and maturing in a more visible way.

By Renata Ilitsky