Mar 5, 2010

Brandtology Social Media Monitoring

Posted by Marshall Sponder on March 02, 2010

I spoke with members of the Brandtology team over the last week – they are a one of the largest Social Media Monitoring / Online Intelligence service providers in the world (so they claim – but what is “large” in this field?) with well over a hundred employees who focus on serving  global organizations across the world.

Until recently, had no idea Brandtology existed or who they were.
In fact, if I had been looking more closely – would have noticed Brandtology was nominated for  the AlwaysOn fourth annual OnMedia Top 100 Private Companies competition under the Web and Media Analytics category.  Also mentioned Brandtology a few months ago, without really focusing on them in a post about Edelman’s TweetLevel tool – see TweetLevel – Twitter Analytics @ Edelman – my post also got picked up by Social Media Today because of the Brand Digital Index work they are doing with Edelman.
Finally, Brandtology is attending Re:think 2010, The ARF 56th Annual Convention + Expo in NYC in a few weeks – as they are a member of the ARF – I may meet with them when they are in town.
Brandtology is among the “high end” platforms  (also, one with an odd name, just like Synthesio which I wrote about the other day).  My guess is that Brandtology and Synthesio would not see themselves as  similar – and maybe they are not – both are high end platforms for large companies -  who require  precision and structure not obtainable  with self serve platforms like Radian6, Alterian, Sysomos and Brandwatch, to name a few.
Nothing against the self serve platforms – it’s more that once you get past the exploratory stage – a company might need to have data that is organized in a very specific way.  For example, many large corporations use custom metatags to drive automation and high end features of their sites – I know does this because I worked on aspects of it when I was part of IBM’s Web Effectiveness team a few years back.    I noticed in Brandtology, aspects of their reporting that could support and work within that customization.
Also, Line of Business reputation monitoring – by country and language – not that easy to do in self serve platform – it seems to me that when you need reporting on that level – your going to have a platform like Brandtology.
Of course, everything come with a price – to get really meaningful reports with highly accurate sentiment analysis that is focused just around your Brand is going to be more costly.

The Brandtology experience is much more structured than you might be used to  -  keyword analysis being done up front (they have use of a “Workbench” tool for research that is used internally to do ad-hoc analysis that support configuration and set up of accounts) and a ticketing system that is probably more elaborate than your average vendor – but the main thing they offer that structured data – where every bit of it is verified and fully vetted before the client sees it.
As a client logs in, here’s and example of  what they first see -

As Brandtology strives to organize reputation monitoring to mirror the clients’ web presence, internationally, they are able to mirror it with a greater degree of insight – see below:

This doesn’t look much different, on the face of it, than Radian6 – a self serve tool – but there is an important difference – Radian6 doesn’t attempt to mirror your actual website in it’s selections – Brandtology, to my understanding – does.
Now, if this walk-through seems a little vague – it is -  Brandtology is very protective of it’s client list and did not want to go into too much detail - they showed me what their platform can do – but I can’t evaluate their claims since I can’t set up their system and test it myself (though I could get them to let me use WorkBench  – their internal ad-hoc query tool, but I didn’t do that)  – it just doesn’t work like that – similar deal with Synthesio.

You, the client, can drill down very atomically into the data with confidence a few people have already touched the data and make sure it’s relevant to your company and brand – obviously, Brandtology works closely with your Brand (hence the name) so they know what you want – that’s the “high end” model they use – and apparently, it must work well as they had a lot of multinational corporations based on the list I saw; they are big enough, infact, to want to be intentionally, under the radar – and that’s basically, where they are.
Drilling down to the item level – again, doesn’t look that different than any of the platforms I looked at previously – there is work-flow management to some of the other platforms like Radian6, Sysomos HeartBeat, Scout Labs now has work-flow management, Alterian/Techrigy/SM2 has it – what they lack is the human vetting – all of this data – checked and re-checked – when the Brand sees it – it’s as clean as it can be.

You can also drill down but what they term as  a “channel” and see viral growth of the messaging around your brand (hopefully, your message is growing) and you can also drill down on that growth.  By the way – based on Brandtology’s categorization – a blog is a channel and in the case of  review sites – they can be broken down to the sub channel level – again – here’s where the human interaction with the data makes the results more immediately useful to the Brand.

Talking about metrics – Brandtology has a visualization of data that is very close to the Digital Footprint Index model I wrote about last year (see A Social Media Scorecard based on Digital Footprint Index) – in fact, when I tried to create my own DFI Scorecard with data I collected from a non-profit and then chart it in 3 dimensions – I was stumped - I didn’t know how to represent changes in height/width/depth in a meaningful way based on the data I collected – but Brandtology has such a visualization (see below):

I bet Ryan Rasmussen of the Zocolo Group would be interested in this diagram above – it’s how Brandtology represented the changes in three dimensions over time – the main thing that’s missing here is an “animation” of the data – which I brought up to Brandtology as a nice to have feature they ought to develop.
I asked Brandtology to show me an “Influencer List” and here’s what they presented (below):

The “influener list” doesn’t appear much different, on the face of it, as any of the other platforms I reviewed - I pointed out that most people, when looking for Influencers – want a list of people, not blogs – along with contact information.
Similar to channel growth – but different – is “voices” growth – and this chart shows how your messaging is growing by counting a source of data (such as a blog) only once -you can say that voices chart is similar to counting unique visitors in Web Analytics.

I suppose, you can get from Brandtology an influencer list if you wanted it – just by drilling down on the voices chart (below):

To summarize this long post – I can’t tell you how well this platform works – I can’t really compare it to anything else I have used as I can not load it with my own query and compare the results. At some point to sell a platform like this – there is probably a bit of a coordinated sales and marketing  along with recommendations that are important when going after larger clients.  In their own words …..
We are one of the largest Business and Brand Online Intelligence service providers that combines technology, processes and trained professionals to deliver accurate and relevant intelligence to global organizations.
We have more than 100 Social Media Specialists in 10 locations around the world who are able to verify and enhance our automated machine analysis in more than 9 different languages. This ensures very high accuracy and relevancy of the analysis reports provided to our clients who do not have to waste a moment sieving through irrelevant data.

Brandtology has what it takes to get the job done - but in this case Nathan Gilliatt is in a better position to evaluate  Brandtology than I am (Nathan Gilliatt wrote the Guide to Social Media Analysis, the worldwide buyer’s guide to tools and services for listening to social media) and I’ll be presenting with Nathan at Monitoring Bootcamp later this month in London and at the Sentiment Analysis Symposium in New York on April 13th.

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