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Brandwatch Giles Palmer an interview


Tell me about your Brandwatch?

Brandwatch is a leader in the new field of social media monitoring and analysis. Meaning we have built a system that analyses what people like you and me are posting on the web. By ‘analyse’, we mean things like the figuring out the sentiment expressed towards a product or service, the common themes of conversation around a Brand or details of who’s talking, where and how influential they are. This is all done automatically and therefore quickly and we deliver the information via a web dashboard that updates every 15 minutes. Our customers are businesses who understand that their success is linked to their reputation and that understanding the online word of mouth is the very best insight they can get.  

What was your first experience of social media?

hmm, I would say it was early web forums like www.photo.net back in 1999. The company I was involved with then was installing an open source community system called OpenACS (http://openacs.org/) which still exists today. It was one of the early open source platforms for building web applications and one of the central modules was a forum app called bboard if I remember correctly. I think it still runs photo.net (on AOLserver – hands up who’s heard of that?)

What is the biggest tip you would give to a newbie in social media monitoring? 

Figure out if you are in technology or in marketing. Learn from the mistakes the pioneers have made and become a real expert in one area. (one other tip — I would suggest that building a web crawler is a task for only those with strong hearts and deep pockets!)

Where do you see growth in the social media monitoring field?

All over the place. 

If there was a simple way to know when an important post is made online about your business or an issue that would affect you, and it was free, I’m guessing everyone would want it. So the challenges are getting to that information and having a business model/pricing structure that works with free or not very expensive.

The basic technical problems will be solved in the next 5 years. By that I mean harvesting the data and categorising it using its inherent structure and having machines that can present it in any desired form extremely quickly. This alone will lead to an explosion of new ways to query and interact with the web which will create growth. 

There will be a new kind of thing emerging that I think of as a web operating system which will spread into all sorts of places, not least into social media monitoring. For example, I might want to write a request like this

QUERY:”vodafone”; TIME:last week; SITE:Forums; SITE:Blogs{comments:off} DISPLAY:timeseries;

and I’ll get it on a display or dashboard immediately. Or I might want to schedule this request as a daily or weekly email. You can kind of do this with Google right now, but it’s not very configurable.

At the same time companies like us are working on analysing the unstructured data, such as the text on a page to identify the sentiment expressed by the author and topics of conversation as well as doing some analysis on the structured data such as link analysis to identify Authority or Influence so a request might become something like

QUERY:”vodafone”; TOPIC:customer services; TIME:last week; SENTIMENT:negative; INFLUENCE:high OR very high; DISPLAY:timeseries AND mentions;

As for the two other big areas which need to be nailed – simplicity and price, at the moment most of the tools are quite complicated to use. That’ s because we’re really at generation 1. But someone will simplify the process soon and one of the barriers to mass adoption will be removed. As for price, building and maintaining these systems isn’t cheap, so we have to figure out how how to finance this period of innovation whilst keeping the cost to the end user affordable. That’s not easy in these rather murky economic times, but it isn’t insurmountable and I’m sure access to finance will improve next year.

How do you maximize the benefits of having a social media monitoring tool?

Top 5 tips are

1 Figure out what you want to do/change/manage

2 Have a formal social media program with an internal sponsor or owner

3 Get good training on the tool you choose

4 Put aside sufficient resources to make it work (people and budget)

5 Try different things and report regularly 

What do you do to improve the world?

We are trying to shine a light into some dark corners

What do you do that is green?

We recycle everything – there are annoying plastic recycling boxes in the office for cans, paper and cardboard. We employ 20 people and 19 of us either walk or cycle to work — it helps being in Brighton which is small compared to somewhere like London

What is one thing about you that not many people know?

Blimey – erm – I chose joodoo9 as my online name because when she was 4 my oldest daughter, Grace, was in the bath having a chat with an imaginary friend using the shower attachment. Her friend, who was called Tilly, apparently had a cat. When I asked Grace what the cat was called, she said ‘Joodoo9‘ which i thought was bonkers so I decided to use it for my online id – i haven’t had any trouble with others getting there first!!

What’s your favorite book?

Can I have two? Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins and Don Quixote by Cervantes

What is on your iPod?

Lots of TED talks, a range of music from Bach through Rufus Wainwright to Jay-Z. And some apps i don’t use much

What are your contact details (email, company, blog, facebook, myspace, forums, etc)?

[email protected], Brandwatch, www.brandwatch.net/blog, Twitter:joodoo9, Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/joodoo9, Skype:joodoo9 AIM:joodoo9

What events do you go to?

A variety – Econsultancy round tables, Measurement camp, Chinwag events, Mashup events, Noah Conference, Internet people/Top cats, Monitoring Social Media (09)

How do you prefer to communicate?

Depends who it’s to and what it’s about. I guess my favourite way is face to face, with a bottle of nice red wine, in a relaxed place, and in an unstructured way

Who would you recommend, and why?

I would recommend 

– both our non-exec Directors – Mark Heeley and Marshall King – both smart, experienced driven business people who are massive assets to us,

– Ashley Friedlein at econsultancy – the most knowledgeable and sensible person in the digital industry in the UK 

– Eric Perlberg (http://www.ericperlberg.com/) ex teacher, inspiring photojournalist

– Tony Armstrong – our accountant – no fuss, straight forward guy – just what you need from your accountant ([email protected])

– Simon Grice at Mashup – inspiring creative technical mind

– Ben Bose at Mavens is a fabulous and extremely hard working researcher

– Oli Sharpe (go meta) – great technical consultant

– Dom Sparkes at Tempero – really together business doing forum moderation

– Alex Sloley – FD at Wavex.co.uk – smart finance director

– Gonzalo Trujillo (brother in law) Angel investor and non-exec FD for several startup including orchard pig and pie minister – you want him on your team

– Benn Maguire – Barrister – if you need one – he’s the guy to call

What is one thing people can do for you?

spread the word about Brandwatch – we are a genuinely committed and dedicated bunch of people on a mission to build something really good. Free beta accounts (not many left) at www.brandwatch.net/4

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