The 4 Best Social Media Listening Tools
Before we get into talking about social media listening tools, we need to qualify our stance on social media. Someone asked us recently why we don’t cover any social media type startups here on Nanalyze. This is because we mainly discuss disruptive technologies on this site that add value to society, because that’s what disruptive technologies are supposed to do. We’re not big fans of social media because we believe that the Facebooks of the world add very little value to society. Many of these business models have few barriers to entry and humans are fickle creatures. When your business model is to distribute messages of 140 characters or less, and then you actually have a debate about whether you should change your business model to 1,000 characters or less, you deserve to have your share price lose almost -60% since your IPO.
What’s even less enamoring about social media are its users who think that just because they sent out some Tweets and update their Facebook feed every day, that they should somehow be qualified to describe themselves as “technology experts” or as some variation of the title “social media digital marketing strategist”. Social media is not a technology. It uses technology, but it has no intrinsic value as a technology itself but rather the fact that it creates its own data and networks it all together is where the value lies. What social media does do that makes it immensely valuable is to produce “social media big data” or as we like to call it “data exhaust” which is often just unstructured freeform data that needs to be analyzed, oftentimes using various methods of artificial intelligence.
For any company out there that has customers, you can guarantee that your customers are talking about you somewhere. How can you possibly keep track of what is being said about your brand in real-time across every single social media site, review site, Amazon review, etc.? This is where the need for social media listening tools comes into play. Forrester Research recently came out with a list of the 4 best social media listening tool startups out there which collectively have taken in over $400 million in funding. Here they are.
Founded in 2009, New York startup Sprinklr has taken in a whopping $228.5 million from investors that include Intel Capital and one of the most social media savy venture capital funds ever, Iconiq Capital. Referred to as “Mark’s family office”, Iconiq’s clients include Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in addition to Mark Zuckerberg himself. Sprinklr has been on somewhat of a buying spree having acquired 9 companies in the past two years, the names of which can be seen below:
Given the amount of money taken in and the pedigree of the investors who are betting on this company to succeed, it’s no surprise Sprinklr offers one of the top-4 social media listening tools. Over 1,100 employees work to service over 1,000 brands in 80 languages and across 20+ social channels. Considering that Iconiq didn’t invest in any of the other 3 companies we’re going to talk about, it seems like they could safely be considered the best social media listening tool platform there is judged by the people who invented social media. ‘Nuff said.
Founded in 2004, Silicon Valley startup NetBase has taken in around $85 million in funding so far in 8 rounds since 2005 which must mean that investors are clamoring for an exit. Netbase social media listening tools use a form of artificial intelligence called “natural language processing” or NLP to analyze social media content and web content so companies can understand what people are saying about them and their products. The tool can process 55,000 sentences a minute from blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook, etc. and is offered on a subscription basis. The tool is primarily used to conduct market research, and one of their claims to fame was winning a multi-million dollar project back in 2009 by answering the question “why men wear stubble”. Apparently, at the time, mention of the word stubble occurred 77,000 times across the internet and they managed to scrape all those mentions in just 6 seconds. If you’re wondering what the answer was, as it turns out men wear stubble because they think it looks sexy (rolls eyes).
Founded in 2005, British startup Brandwatch has taken in almost $64 million in funding to develop a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that is used by over 1,200 brands and agencies to manage their online reputations. Their social media listening tool, which provides real-time data from over 80 million sources, can be configured to alert various departments in your firm to respond to customers’ needs as events take place as seen below:
Brandwatch has also done some interesting work around creating a “Social Index” that assesses the performance of 500+ brands by analyzing over 130 million online conversations.
Founded in 2006, French startup Synthesio has taken in a total of $30.7 million to develop their social media listening tool which provides global data in 196 countries and 80 languages from the most used social sites in each region. They’ve also managed to automate sentiment in 21 languages which means they can detect positive or negative emotions. Not surprisingly, Synthesio’s “social intelligence platform” is used by some of the world’s top brands. The Company presented probably the most interesting piece of marketing research we’d seen where they figured out that Lay’s was able to increase sales of their potato chips to people playing one of those social media farming games by allowing the players to purchase virtual Lay’s potato chip factories in the game. Who would have known?
It’s fascinating to see this group of companies all walking down pretty much the same path. Sprinklr came to the game the latest (2009), but the other three social media listening tools came to market at around the same time (2004/2005/2006). We also see that they have all closed recent funding rounds as seen below:
- Sprinklr – $100 million – Jul 2016 – Series F
- NetBase – $9 million – Apr 2015 – Series E
- Brandwatch – $33 million – Oct 2015 – Series C
- Synthesio – $8.5 million – Dec 2015 – Venture (after Series B)
With Sprinklr grabbing a massive funding round just a few months ago we wouldn’t be entirely shocked to see them acquire one of their primary competitors listed in this article in the coming months.
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