Jennifer Zeszut is the Chief Social Strategist at Lithium Technologies. Jennifer is the founder and former CEO of Scout Labs, a SAAS platform for real-time social media visibility and customer analytics which was acquired by Lithium Technologies in May 2010.
On Lithosphere she is JenniferZ or you can find her on Twitter at @jenniferland.
Welcome to the Scout Labs – oops – the Lithium Social Media Monitoring blog!
Today's the day we switch over officially. Most of the content you relied on at the Scout Labs blog has been ported over to here. Going forward, this is your source for Lithium Social Media Monitoring product announcements, case studies and social media best practices. If something’s missing that you LOVED from the Scout Labs blog, let us know.
Welcome to Lithium!
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At Web 2.0 New York last fall, our half-day workshop included a “fireside chat” with the wise Peter Kim of the Dachis Group. The topic was the state of the market and how brands are currently using and how they want to be using social media.
I asked him a question that I hoped would be a layup —given that Scout Labs got him there on stage in front of hundreds of companies and made him look so good ;-).
I asked, “What are you seeing on the social media vendor landscape that’s interesting? How are we doing at meeting companies’ needs?” Again, I thought this was a layup, and that he would answer with glowing words about Scout Labs.
He did glow about Scout Labs, but Kim followed with:
“Actually, the vision of Social CRM is a great one. You have totally sold companies on the idea and they are ready for it. The reality is that you vendors are not delivering on the vision. You are not connecting the social media and customer data dots fast enough for most of the companies I work with.”
Ouch. But he’s right.
We SAY “customers are everywhere—tune in” but we social media platforms have focused on indexing, measuring and analyzing open social network content. Meanwhile, companies’ on-site customer communities and e-commerce sites are treasure troves of information on their own—game-changers when connected with social media data. But the platforms have not crossed that chasm.
We SAY that you should “know thy customer” but we only give you anonymous social media profile data that is virtually impossible to connect back to your customer lists for marketing, support, sales or REAL campaign ROI. Tech shops are hired to build one-off connectors. Agencies frantically export data, trying and connect the dots in Excel and Google Docs.
We find your influencers—brand advocates and detractors—but only in the channels we track right now. Its kind of like the old joke: Q: Why are you looking for your keys there under the street lamp? I thought you lost them in the bushes?” A: “Well, this is where the light is. We don’t know who’s influential on your site and how they travel, or more importantly, how their influence travels across channels.
Peter Kim is right. We are not going fast enough to meet the market’s seemingly insatiable desire for social media intelligence and customer engagement via the social web.
This is why I am so excited to announce, today, that Scout Labs, the leader in social media measurement and management, is merging with Lithium, the preeminent customer community and Social CRM company. Together, we create a true Social CRM platform with a lens on the whole customer. We have wide social media data. They have deep customer and community data. We help teams connect with social media. They help customers connect with each other.
To our beloved Scout Labs clients, you will not lose a thing. The Scout Labs team, the product, the brand, the culture, the commitment to actionable insight, ease of use and affordability—all are alive and well.
Together with Lithium we have different and complementary pieces of the customer data and analysis puzzle, but we are also very similar!
• We are united by data, data, data. • We are united by serious IP around analysis and metrics. • We are united by a passion for both quantitative + qualitative insight for our customers. • We are united by our unwavering focus on the customer. • We are united in our desire to be mission-critical across the organization—marketing, sales, community, commerce, support, etc. • We both define success as delivering real business results across the organization. • In diligence, we fought over whose customer list was more impressive. Now that we are one, we can honestly say that we (together) are the trusted partner to the world’s best, most customer-obsessed brands.
This combination is all about acceleration. This is about more data for you (data-junkies, we hear you standing and cheering). This is about features that you have been begging for, delivered sooner. This is about (finally!) connecting social media and customer data dots that will change the landscape forever.
To learn more, visit the microsite we’ve created which has much more information about the acquisition. Also, check out this blog post from Lithium CEO, Lyle Fong. Join us for our upcoming webcast on May 19th with Peter Kim, where you can learn more about the acquisition and what we see for the future of social media analytics.
We are looking forward to an exciting 2010 and beyond.
Previously posted on scoutlabs.com/blog on May 11, 2010
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Haiti. It was a terrible terrible disaster. By most estimates 200,000 people lost their lives.
But according to Esther Duflo, a TED speaker today on stage at TED2010, Haiti happens every 8 days. 9 million children under the age of 5 die every year from poverty-related causes. 1 million die each year from Malaria alone. That’s 1 million lives that could be saved with a $10 bed net.
Duflo’s research shows that if you give bed nets to poor families, 80%+ will use them right away, and months later, they invest their own money in buying more bed nets for their families because they see that it saves lives.
But we don’t talk about Malaria very much. In the chart below, the total mentions of Malaria is the yellow line across the bottom. Basically nothing.
The media tends to gravitate toward covering dramatic events that happen quickly and can be covered in short bursts. People dying in great numbers every single day is not news, for some reason.
Jamie Oliver echoed the thought today when he accepted the 2010 TedPrize for his work as a healthy-eating activist. He said TV is filled with talk of homicides and drownings and the like. Your chances of dying from homocide? 1 in 314. Chances of drowning? 1 in 1,008.
Obesity-related diseases are the leading causes of death. You have a 1 in 5 chance of dying of heart disease and a 1 in 7 chance of dying of cancer. Stroke? 1 in 24. However, mentions of drowning are neck and neck with heart-disease and obesity:
Obesity did rise above the fray this past week (note the recent spike) when Michelle Obama announced a campaign against childhood obesity. On stage Jamie saluted her commitment but set out the following wish for the coming year:
“My wish is to have a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, to inspire families to cook again and to empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”
In TED fashion, countless people and organizations around the world, inspired by Jamie’s passion and commitment, stood up to commit money, time, web site development, access to prominent people, office space, media time, even buses for road-trips to schools. Congratulations to Jamie Oliver, the Brit, for winning the TEDPrize and for working so hard to save American kids.
All the TED Talk videos will be posted online for all to see starting in about a month. Stay tuned and join in.
Previously posted on scoutlabs.com/blog on Feb 11, 2010
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I haven’t written a Scout Labs “vision” post in a while, but now is the time. Because the new enhancements that come online today take Scout Labs closer to our vision than ever before.
Today’s release incorporates lots more data - more forums, more news, more Tweets - and offers more powerful (and beautiful) graphing capabilities. Our product team will detail those enhancements in an upcoming post. What I want to discuss today are the new collaboration features and place them on the backdrop of the Scout Labs mission.
We founded this company upon a fundamental belief: that brands are protected in “packs”; that listening should NOT be one person’s job, but the every day job of many. The un-mediated voice of the customer should flow to the desktop of everyone - Product teams, Marketing teams, Customer Service departments, senior executives, PR teams, and the Agencies and Agents of all of the above. When the voice of the customer is in the hands of knowledgeable people, innovation happens - new product ideas, new marketing ideas, new service ideas, new connections with customers.
Collaboration at Scout Labs So, “collaboration” is a not a FEATURE for Scout Labs. It’s not a thing that we launch in month 10. It’s a belief system and vision that permeates our product, our UI, our pricing model and, yes, even our technology and our algorithms. Because if you believe that listening is the job of TEAMS, not an individual, you build your app in a very particular way:
You create an app that is intuitive and simple to use and understand instantly. If it’s a crazy flex app, people won’t use it. If it takes tons of training to figure out, people won’t use it. If you make people work hard or if it takes a long time to get actionable insight to come out the other end, people won’t use it. When people rave about Scout Labs’ ease of use, how intuitive it is, and how much insight they gain for so little work, we are very proud but we are not surprised or amazed. This is what we work at every day. Quick story: A major television network signed up as a customer recently and immediately had dozens of people logged in. When our account team reached out to welcome them and asked if anyone on the team needed a quick training the answer was, “Our team has taken to Scout Labs like fish to water. I can’t imagine needing training but I’ll ask around just in case.” How many other social media monitoring vendors / listening platforms can point to stories like that?
You focus on the functionality that the most people need every day to do their jobs better. You give them the insight they need in an easy to digest way and you remove confusing advanced controls (for most). Do people need to see social-graph-visualizations every day to do their jobs? Not very many, so we didn’t start there. If you layer in too much deep-dive researcher functionality, you will baffle the people who need the information the most and who can do the most with it - those on the front-lines.
You do NOT charge by seat. Charging by seat just limits the product’s viral potential and its effectiveness in the organization. If you care about teams really uniting around your dashboard, then, instead, you encourage team usage and sharing and find other ways to earn revenue. We choose to charge by the number of things (searches) your extended team tracks / we analyze on your behalf. So, if we are useful and valuable, you will rely on us more and more, and you will pay more.
You cherish collaborative interaction by teams and use it to get even smarter! At Scout Labs, we have architected for user feedback loops. As users work with each other and with the data - change a sentiment score, flag something as spam, etc. - we use that feedback as labeled data which can train our algorithms (which are almost all learning and adapting). This gives us a major competitive advantage, because we have thousands of highly motivated, highly skilled Scout Labs users unwittingly “labeling” data for us, which we use to improve algorithms and augment dictionaries and linguistic rules.
All of the above are core tenets of Scout Labs and fundamental to how our platform works and what makes us unique. It’s why Scout Labs is the hands-down platform of choice for extended teams that want to tune in to social media.
(One of the many things) New in this release: Assignments If you are a customer of Scout Labs, you have a common, voice-of-the-customer dashboard and a common set of social media metrics to navigate by. You have adoption and usage throughout the company, and you have a robust platform for taking action.
But you may also need help to NOT trip over yourselves - a way to coordinate your interactions with each other and with your customers. You need “Assignments”, a flexible ticketing and workflow feature which is what has launched today as a feature at the Professional level.
As Scout Labs users know, you have always been able to tag and discuss and route things via email to others on your team, and Standard level plans will have all those same capabilities, but this Pro feature offers:
A built-in ticketing system so that any piece of content can be assigned to a person, given a status, and tracked by all.
A team control panel showing how well you are doing at responding - # open tickets, # closed tickets, average days to close tickets, etc.
A personal to-do list and stats for your own engagement metrics.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts This is not a new idea. Other platforms in our space have a workflow feature, BUT they do not as completely live and breathe collaboration the way Scout Labs does (see above), so the feature’s utility has been limited.
If you charge by seat and hence hardly anyone buys additional seats, there’s no one to collaborate with! If the app is difficult to use and thus is mainly used by the one person who had training and can figure the thing out, what’s the point of a ticketing system? Scout Labs did it the other way around. We EARNED the honor of being the voice-of-the-customer dashboard to entire organizations, and now, with “Assignments”, we give our customers even more powerful ways to collaborate, coordinate and take action.
Again, the new Assignments feature in this release is in addition to major new data enhancements that everyone gets access to - lots more forum data, general news sources broken out, richer Twitter data options, and sexy new graphs. Look for a post from Margaret next that will give more detail on those enhancements soon.
Previously posted on scoutlabs.com/blog on Feb 8, 2010
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There is a lot of confusion out there.
Many of the posts and tweets about social media monitoring and brand monitoring these days are asking, “What application should I use? Which app is the best? Who has used what? What do you think?” Very often, the RFPs I receive and the questions I am asked about our platform are pretty surface-skimming. “Does it have Twitter?” is a fine question, but there are so many more tough questions you should be asking all of us.
Don’t even ask me which platform is best. You already know my answer is Scout Labs. I have no credibility there.
But, having thought about this and worked on the technology for nearly 3 years, I do think I have credibility in offering up a checklist of things to look for and to think about if you are choosing a social media analysis platform for your company. I will get the list started but I hope that you will add your own thoughts:
How many months of live data are you serving in the application? (I need to be able to read all the posts and also see trending graphs).
Do you price based on the number of results returned or otherwise limit the number of results that I can see? Or do you return all the search results for my topics?
What social media content types do you index?
Can I add sources if I don’t see them in your app? How fast does it take to see them in results?
How good are your spam filters? What percentage are your algorithms catching as compared to human-scores? How often do you mis-classify something as spam?
If you say its spam, can I see what you filtered out? Can I add them back in to my main results?
Can I curate the results for my team? E.g. If I think a result is either irrelevant or spam, can I flag it as such and will it be instantly removed from the results?
Can I order mentions within a given date range by importance - what’s most important to pay attention to - or is it just by date?
What sentiment-related features do you offer? Is it just positive and negative scoring, or can you identify other customer emotions?
With regard to sentiment (positive / negative / neutral) how accurate are your sentiment scores? Specifically, how often does your algorithm agree with human scorers? When is the last time you tested your algorithm versus human scores?
How are you improving your algorithms over time?
Do you do only go-forward sentiment scoring (as posts come in, after you create a search)?
Or can you back-fill sentiment scores for old things that were posted before I created my search? If so, is there an addition charge for backfill? How long does it take to back-fill sentiment for all my searches?
Does the application support multiple people / departments and groups in the company? Is it easy to add people? How much do you charge additional users or is it free?
Is there a way to “bookmark” and tag interesting content as my team finds things and people that we want to remember?
Can I annotate things I see with my own commentary and tags, so that my colleagues can see my thoughts?
From when a customer posts to when it is live in your application, what is the lag time (by media type)?
How long does it take for a dashboard to populate from search creation?
Is everything totally automated or do you have your analysts or outsourced labor doing some part of it?
How much honing and set-up of the results need to happen to get really good results?
How much training time would you say is required to become an expert at using the system?
What is the average number of users that are using your platform within a typical company. One? Twenty?
How do you price? What’s the cost for an addition person to get access? Is there any limit on the number of search results that you return to me?
If you do limit the number of searches that you return to me, (e.g. 10,000) and I do a search on “Google”, say, that clearly has far more than 10,000 results, what do subset do you show me? What am I not seeing?
We don’t mind the softball-inquiries when they are thrown to us. But we know that Scout Labs stands up to very rigorous scrutiny, so bring it on. I hope this makes you a more sophisticated reviewer of platforms and writer of RFPs.
I also hope that this forces more data into the discussion about social media platforms and raises the level of discourse throughout the category.
Previously posted on scoutlabs.com/blog on Aug 31, 2009
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