Data – How Twingly helps Media Monitoring Businesses

Everybody is talking about data from social media sources and the opportunities for businesses it brings, if one  knows how to use it. But how, is the question often asked. And – do we really have to?

This year, NEXT Conference in Berlin had Data as its main topic, and in various sessions it was discussed how important data nowadays is for businesses. In autumn there will be the Research & Results in Munich where mostly market researchers come together to discuss the new challenges that collecting data from social media sources brings.

Recently I chatted with someone in classic market research about this, and it became evident that especially data from Facebook, Twitter and Blogs become increasingly important for that area.

Why is data from blogs and social media platforms increasingly important?

Blogs, Twitter and Facebook  are only some examples of the platforms (see Ethority’s social media prism to the right)  where consumers are and exchange their views with their friends as well as with the entire community. So everybody running a business knows that one has to be where ones customers are, in order to understand their needs, develop the products they want and most importantly – sell these products as well as offering great customer service.

But one does not only need to be present where ones customers are. One also wants to listen to what they have to say in general.

The competition is on – how popular is my product in comparison to others? Do people love my brand or do they hate it? Did they ever hear about it? Only who knows that can really optimise their products and services, find their niche, get the most out of it – and even come up with new innovative ideas for products and services, knowing the potential benefits they bring to ones customers. Maybe one would even need to find new customer groups?

Then, of course the big question is, how on Earth do I find out what’s been said about me or my brand(s)?

There are a lot of media monitoring services around – and the often quoted dilemma is that there is no service that satisfies all needs and wishes. Well, I guess that’s why there are that many around in the first place. Some of them are either specialised in a certain niche, like i.e. media monitoring for the finance or the travel sector, or they simply try to develop their services to be the best all-round solution and compete with each other that way.

Regardless which way media monitoring companies choose, we at Twingly can deliver blog data to all of them.

In fact, we get quite a few requests about our blog data and the number of our data customers more than doubled during the last 12 months.  These are all our  API Customers , as we call them.

So let us tell you a bit more about how we could potentially support your media monitoring business with our blog data!

We actually have 3 API’s.

Number 1: Livefeed –  This is raw blog data at its finest.
You get all blog data as an XML-feed at the same time as when it enters our system. You can then save the data at your end, and perform the analysis you want to do. You subscribe per language and we give you access via an API-key. Livefeed is mostly used by our bigger clients such as Radian6 and Meltwater Buzz, who then feed our blog data into their system as additional sources.

Number 2: Analytics – 0ur search-API.
This API is based on our blog search – here you can just throw a bunch of keywords into the search interface and get results across all languages (or just specific ones) and that up to 4 months back in history.  Twingly Analytics is suitable for media monitoring services that don’t want to deal with the super-technical side of things but that actually want to get results for certain keywords directly out of the pool of blog data. The results come as an XML-feed and can then be used for further analysis on their own system. Silobreaker’s services are a good example for using our search API in order to find additional sources in blogs about certain topics – for example their news trends.

Number 3: RSS-API – the best of basic!
You probably know that you can search on Twingly.com for a certain keyword (i.e. Twingly as a brand) and that you can subscribe to the results via RSS for free? Now, some of you might want to use this feed commercially and at a higher volume. Then you can get an API-key from us which allows you, against a low monthly fee, to use this feed for your purposes. That can be media monitoring, but you could also use it to create a customised top list of blogs that talk about your products. The Swedish publisher Norstedts created a top list of blogged about books that they choose by using the RSS-API.
Now, if you want to know more about any of these feeds and their technique, you can either contact us or you are welcome to check out our FAQ and get back to us with specific questions.

P.S.:
A bit earlier this year, we presented some of our customers, including interviews with Silobreaker and Radian6.

If you are from Sweden and looking for some companies that do media monitoring, then you might want to check out Mediebevakare.se as well, where a lot of Swedish media monitoring companies present their tools and services.

We at Twingly founded Mediebevakare.se, because like you we felt that an overview of all the different media monitoring services available is needed . So please check it out and spread the word if you know someone who is looking for a service, or if you know a tool that should be listed as well.

If you have a media monitoring business on the Swedish market but you are not based here, feel free to set up your presentation on Mediebevakare anyway. We can help you if needed – just let us know!

“We will buy and sell products via Facebook in the future”

In the early days of the Internet, there was disbelief that consumers one day would want to buy shoes on the web. A lot of huge e-commerce sites focusing successfully on selling shoes have proved the sceptics wrong. Brandos is Sweden’s largest online shoe shop and uses Twingly to connect with the (fashion) blogosphere. We had a chat with Marie Segerberg, who is Country Manager Sweden at Brandos, and asked her about the importance of blogs and Social Media for the online shoe business.

Marie Segerberg, Country Manager Sweden at Brandos

What’s the background on the Twingly blogstream integration on your product pages? When and why did you decide to make this step?
Brandos is the largest online shoe shop in Sweden and we have a lot of nice shoes that fashion bloggers write about. Bloggers are important opinion builders that affect what people buy. Twingly helps us to show what those opinion leaders think about our shoes. And that’s also a good way for us to add more product information to our site. We launched the integration in January 2010.

Can you tell us a bit about the bloggers linking to your site?
It is mostly women that blog about our shoes and they have very different taste. We offer over 18.000 shoe models, so there is a lot to choose from. Many products go out of stock during the season, at the same time new models arrive. Hence the Twingly links are spread out over many different shoe models.

How do you react when a shoe you sell gets negative reviews on blogs?
We appreciate all reviews and try to learn from them to get better. If a product gets constructive negative reviews we always check the product thoroughly to see if the reviews are correct. If so, we add/change information about the model on our site. We answer on the blog post if possible, to show that we care and to tell the readers what we have done about it. If it is just an opinion like “Ugly!” we do not act on it, people are allowed to have different taste : – )

How important is Social Media in general and the blogosphere in particular for e-commerce?
Very important. We trust our friends much more than we trust companies. What our friends say about a company or a product affects our own opinion a lot. Through Facebook we get to share our opinions with friends all the time. Bloggers are very open with their private life and as people follow them for a longer time, they unconsciously start to feel like friends. Many fashion bloggers have higher impact than fashion magazines on what people buy.

In the past, many people believed that consumers would never buy shoes online, since it’s recommended to try shoes before you buy. But it seems as if those concerns were wrong. From your experience, what’s the best way to convince consumers to buy shoes on the web?
We try to get consumers to understand that you can still try before you buy, even if you shop online. Brandos always offers free delivery and free returns, so you can order as many shoes as you want and try them at home. We have 30 days open purchase and it is easy to send them back if you do not want them.

From Brandos’ perspective, what are the next trends within e-commerce?
We have already seen fashion bloggers opening their own shops on their blogs. I think we will buy and sell products via Facebook much more in the future.

Do you personally read blogs? If so, which ones are your favourites?
I blog for Brandos.se at Skobloggen and I read a lot of blogs. I try to scan the most important Swedish blogs that are likely to cover fashion and shoes to see what they are writing about and to get inspiration.

Privately I admire blogs that show us another side of life, for example Korrespondenterna, Läkare Utan Gränser (Medecins Sans Frontiers) from the field work and Unicef’s blog.

8 reasons why Sweden is a great country for web startups

Have you ever wondered why there are so many Internet startups with roots in Sweden – a country with a rather small population (only 9 million)? For being relatively few people, the country in the north of Europe has been giving birth to a huge number of online services and is home to a lot of innovation in the digital space. And yes, even Twingly has its base in Sweden.

In this post we’ll try to highlight a few of the factors that might have helped to make Sweden become a country that you need to count in when searching for potentially disruptive tech startups.

Global approach from day one due to small population
Many Swedish web services in the consumer business target an international audience from day one. The Swedish market is often simply to small for big ambitions.

Cluster due to a centralized state
Sweden has only three big cities with more than 100.000 inhabitants: Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. That means that a relatively huge part of the daily business and innovation process takes place in those three cities, with the greater Stockholm area – where almost 20 percent of the Swedes live – being the center and a cluster for IT and technology companies, business angels, VCs and talents. Clusters usually have a positive impact on the quantity of companies founded (as the Silicon Valley has proved).

Sweden, country of inventors and entrepreneurs
Inventing things that help to improve the quality of life has always been an area Swedes have put an effort on. That led to a bunch of globally well known Swedish companies such as Ericsson, IKEA, Volvo or Tetra Pak. Inventing things and creating businesses based on those inventions gives you a high social status in the Swedish society, thus it is not a surprise that launching a startup is not the least prioritized option for young (and old) Swedes.

A nation embracing IT
Like other Nordic countries, in Sweden IT is mainly being seen as something positive that can make people’s life better, and you find this insight in most levels of society. For instance, 6 out of 10 companies in Scandinavia have at least one technical person in the management team. That’s 10 percent more than the worldwide average (source, translated). Naturally that mindset has a positive impact on the number of IT and Internet startups being founded.

Good infrastructure
Internet in Sweden is pretty ubiquitous, affordable, and the average speed for both down- and upload is good (and one of the highest in the world).

Availability of Venture Capital
Even though the situation for Venture Capital in Sweden is far from perfect, the amount of Venture capital available in relation to the GDP is higher in Sweden than in the rest of Europe (source; translated).

High quality of life and open society
Sweden is one of the countries with the highest quality of life. Add that to the fact that most Swedes are skilled English speakers and it gets obvious that even though it can be pretty cold in the winter, it’s not too difficult to attract talent to move to Sweden. And that sooner or later benefits any Swedish startup and company expanding and needing more people.

Swedes pick up trends quickly
Many Swedes are paying a lot of attention to trends, which can be picked up extremely quickly. The same goes for new markets and technology. As soon as some new concept, idea or business case appears, it won’t take long until someone wants to try to built something with that, instead of thinking too long about the possible risks.

There are probably many more aspects. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments. And we don’t deny that Sweden has its challenges as well. Not everything is perfect, and there are exceptions to every rule. But simply judging from the quantity (and quality) of the Swedish entrepreneurial outcome, it seems as if the climate for starting your own Internet company seems to be pretty good here in the north.

Twingly welcomes Beauty Planet as new e-commerce partner

An increasing number of e-commerce websites and online retailers is realizing the power and potential of the social web. If you need proof for that, just have a look at the list of our e-commerce partners that use Twingly to connect with the blogosphere. In November we published a few examples of websites that with the help of Twingly leverage the power of Social Media to increase their audience, receive feedback and improve customer loyalty.

Today we are happy to announce another partner from the e-commerce sector: Beauty Planet is a leading Swedish online store for perfume, makeup, skin care and hair care. And as of today, the site comes integrated with the Twingly widget that shows incoming links from around the blogosphere to the store’s product pages.

We are particularly glad that Beauty Planet doesn’t only embed Twingly on each product profile, but also on their main homepage. If you visit beautyplanet.se, in the right column you’ll see a section titled “bloggat om” (Swedish for “blogged about”). There you always find the latest blog posts linking to products on Beauty Planet. You can either click on the product name to head to the product profile, or on the name of the blog to visit the article discussing the product.

The Twingly widget in the right column

We probably don’t need to mention that blog posts that are appearing in that section might be able to attract a whole lot of new visitors coming from Beauty Planet’s main page.

And then, on each and every product page, there is a list of all the recent blog posts linking to that specific perfume, makeup, skin care or hair care product (like here). It’s a great way for customers to get additional information and read about other customers’ experiences, as well as for the bloggers which get more traffic.

By the way, Beauty Planet is our first partner using Twingly eTrade, our new solution especially developed for e-commerce sites. If you run an online store and would like to hear more about eTrade and the ways we can help you to open up to the social web, we’d love to hear from you!

Have you seen the Twingly Screensaver?

The Twingly Screensaver

If you have been following the Twingy blog during the past month, you have been reading about many of our different services and offerings. But there is on tool that we didn’t mentioned for a while, but that some of you might like: The Twingly Screensaver (Windows only).

We launched the Twingly Screensaver in early 2007 as a way to visualize the global blog activity in real time. After installing it you get a 24/7 stream of all blog activity, straight to your screen. By holding the left mouse button you can move the visualization of the earth to the region of your choice to see blog posts being published there right now. Click on one of the headlines to see a summary of it, and then either proceed to the source or continue to discover. Of course it helps if you are a language talent!

All the data shown in the Screensaver comes from our Blog Search and the stream is processed on Amazon’s Web Servers in order to keep up with the amount of new content.

Even though we see the Screensaver mostly as a fun project to present Twingly in an experimental and neat-looking way, we got some pretty sweet coverage when we launched a few years ago – a lot of international technology sites and blogs wrote about it, among others Valleywag, O’Reilly’s MAKE and Digital Inspiration. Even Twitter co-founder Biz Stone published our video showing the Twingly Screensaver in action.

The video itself has been watched almost 400.000 times by now, and some people having a look at it are probably not even aware that they can download the software from us to use it by themselves.

The Twingly Screensaver has also appeared in a lot of Screensaver Best-of-rankings, like this one by Smashing Magazine.

Looking back it is clear that the Screensaver was a good way to spread the word about Twingly, and it probably also helped that we presented it on conferences and events like the Future of Web Apps 2007 conference. There is simply nothing more beautiful than seeing the global blogosphere publishing content in real time right in front of your eye.

Get the Twingly Screensaver here if you want to try it yourself (and if you are on Windows).

Here is the video:

Twingly Team Interviews: “Automate as much as you can”

We have been doing our 8th Twingly Team Interview! This time we spoke to Oskar Skoog, one of our developers. Oskar explains which Twingly service has challenged him the most, which Internet phenomenons amaze him and how he stays informed on his areas of interest.

Please tell us a bit about who you are and how you came to Twingly.
My name is Oskar Skoog and I’m 29 years old. I’m one of the developers here at Twingly. I first found out about Twingly back in 2007. A friend wrote her thesis there. I was still studying computer science and had just started looking for a job. She suggested that I should send an email to Twingly. And here we are…

Why did you follow your friend’s advise to get in touch with Twingly?
It seemed like an interesting place, but honestly I didn’t know that much about the company before. So I’m glad I got called to the interview and got to meet Martin and Björn, two of the 4 co-founders, because that was when I got really interested in working for Twingly. The idea that Martin told me about was something like an European Technorati. At that time, neither Google nor Technorati were really good at blog search, especially not in Europe. So this is what later became Twingly Blog Search. We started developing the engine one or two month after I began working for Twingly.

Which of the other Twingly tools have you been involved with? Which one was the most exciting or the most challenging one?
I think I have been involved with more or less all of them by now. Today I’m the developer who’s been at Twingly for the longest time, but it’s also a small company, so you end up working with everything. The most challenging project was Twingly Channels, without any doubt; and possibly also the most exciting one, although I also really enjoyed working with the blog search.

Why was the development of Twingly Channels particularly challenging?
Due to lots of new technology at that time. The real-time web was new and there didn’t exist a lot of common knowledge to learn from. It was also quite different from our other products, especially in the back-end system, so we had to learn a lot of new stuff quickly.

What’s your biggest learning from almost 4 years of developing for Twingly?
It’s hard to think of anything specific, but if I had to say something I believe in, it would be to automate as much as you can. It both becomes easier to do it again and it works as kind of documentation of the process. I think most developers know that they should automate if you ask them, but the value of it might not always be that apparent.

What’s your take on how the Internet has evolved during the past years?
What amazes me the most about the past few years is how social media has grown and how it got such a huge influence everywhere. I’ve always loved using the Internet, but I think this has really changed how everyone perceive and use the Internet.

Which services or apps do you find particularly remarkable or ground-changing?
Facebook is perhaps an obvious answer, but their massive user base is incredible. Another amazing site, closer to the things I work with, is Github. Unless you’re a developer, you might never have heard of it, but Github has really changed how collaborating with code works in open source projects, by making it much easier and also more social.

How do you stay informed about programming techniques and other areas of interest?
Hacker News is a great site and community for tech and programming news. Most of the programming related blogs I read are quite narrow in their field and there are a lot of small good blogs. Some of the best, and also more popular, ones are Etsy’s Code as Craft, igvita.com, MySQL Performance Blog and Ajaxian.

After many years at Twingly, do you remember an occasion or event that made you especially happy?
Asking this just a few days after our awesome 5-year birthday party makes it hard to think of anything else… : – ) It was an amazing party. Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate with us!