As social media platforms and applications gain mainstream prominence, organisations should pay increasing attention to what people are saying about them online. We have seen in recent weeks how social media can either result in a lot of good or a lot of harm. Being oblivious to what your stakeholders think is probably the last thing to do, especially in these times when every customer relationship counts.
This is where social media monitoring, intelligence and participation comes in.
At the invitation of Eddie Chau, founder and CEO of Brandtology, I had the privilege recently of visiting their social media command centre at Changi South and meeting his co-founders Kelly Choo (an avid technopreneur prior to Brandtology) and Alvin Chan (who has a PhD in Neural Networks). Eddie himself is pretty well known in the IT field, having founded and sold e-COP previously (an IT MNC dealing in managed risk and security services), with prior blue chip experience in IT MNCs like IBM.
The first thing which struck me during my visit were the colourful chairs at its conference room. Certainly not your typical blues, greens or greys!
Eddie gave me a presentation on the full suite of services offered by Brandtology, which positions itself as the “world’s first 24×7 managed brand and reputation services provider”. It offers four basic services: Monitoring, Protection, Promotion and Reconnaisance. The company is able to assist their clients in sussing out what the public is saying about them online, respond to it, assist in seeding ideas in social media networks, and suss out what their competitors are up to.
Unlike other social media listening tools (many of which you can use for free online like feedreader, Google Alerts, Technorati and so on), Brandtology combines both an automation (with an engine seiving through key words and phrases), and a manual process (involving social media analysts) to ascertain the appropriate meaning and context to online feedback. At its core is a multi-lingual sentiment analysing engine which helps to sort, analyse and chart out key trends that can be made available to clients online anywhere in the world.
A copy of the slides are available here for those keen to find out more.
One of the interesting points about the company is that it offers clients the option to respond to the feedback in real time through its agents. Much like how call centres do it, albeit in an online fashion.
I suppose this is where the real value lies – you often need real human beings to seive the wheat from the chaff. In Brandtology’s case, what’s cool is that the folks they hire – who are experienced graduates with several years of working experience often in communications or PR (one of them even has 10 years of experience in journalism) – are people who already spend a lot of time online in social media channels and are hence au fait with what’s hot and what’s not in the social media world. From what I hear, Eddie likes to hire people with multi-cultural backgrounds – a plus point to ensure that you are able to discern what people truly mean in different languages and cultures.
Another unique point about the company’s offerings is that it is able to monitor and trawl not only public sites and blogs but those that may require a log in as well. In other words: popular forums, facebook discussion groups, and others where heated discourse often takes place. Of course, this depends on the level of privacy offered. Naturally, you can’t place a sensor on everything in cyberspace, so an 80/20 rule applies.
If you are keen to find out more about them, do contact them through this page.
(Update: Eddie clarified that their hires are experienced working adults with a communications/PR background, and also on the issue of accessing private sites which I have reflected above).