Listening is getting more useful. Many brands are well past the first phase of social data mining (the fancy term for 'listening') where they bought a license for Radian6 or Sysomos and then dusted their hands off, saying, "Done." They learned that tools were a small part of the answer. Next, they needed people who could prime these tech pumps with the right queries and then pull actionable meaning out of the backend.
Now we want to look forward with predictive data, not just sort through what happened yesterday. We want something that can help predict content marketing success. That is a lot harder than it sounds. It's not just hard from the technology side. It is hard for teams just honing their content marketing skills and workflows to identify relevant trends, create content and distribute with the speed of a quickly spiking Internet meme.
There are some interesting companies focused on mining emerging data for predictive trends. This will clearly be a big growth area for social data.
Bottlenose wants to become the more useful listening platform. Their focus is on predictive analytics with all of the normal listening and benchmarking capabilities thrown in. The Nerve Center, Trend Dashboard and Sonar utilities all reflect their desire to be a brand's single listening tool. One of my pet peeves in technology partners is a lack of focus on the simplicity of the displays. Most are too complex forcing tool jockeys to tune and interpret the many variables to come up with useful data. Bottlenose (like Percolate) seem to understand that and have a fair respect for design. Their displays are nicely trim and spare leaving me hope that they can more easily be converted into action.
When to use them:
If your organization has committed to one of the big providers (e.g. SalesForce, Marketwired) and are committed to content marketing, I would add Bottlenose to the evaluation spreadsheet.
Their distinctive strength appears to be in delivering useful trend and predictive analytics that a nimble content marketer can then apply to their current marketing and their visual simplification of the data.
To become the one listening resource for a brand, Bottlenose needs parity with Radian6 or a similar partner. That may be tougher than it sounds. That means being transparent about the source content they are searching. Most tools fall short here. Also, the well-known pitfalls of machine-scored sentiment needs to be addressed.
As most brands don't yet fully understand how to evaluate the ROI of listening, it may be tough for most to acquire Bottlenose as the 'second tool.'
From Bottlenose Labs
Take a look:
The product page scrolls through the main tools or utilities including the Trend Dashboard. You can also drive the generic version of Sonar here by just inserting terms to get one of their spiral displays.
I have been interested in Trendspottr for a while. The service is wonderfully simple. It mines Twitter and public Facebook data, applies some secret-sauce algorithm to reveal trends and topics that will likely gain in popularity over the next few hours or days.
Here's how they describe themselves,
"TrendSpottr is a predictive analytics service that identifies the most timely and trending information from any big data stream. Our core technology analyzes real-time data streams such as Twitter and Facebook and spots emerging trends at their earliest acceleration point - hours or days before they have become "popular" and reached mainstream awareness."
They smartly make it easy to apply this data to advertising, email alerts and even an embeddable widget on top of the main dashboard interface.
When to use them:
Trendspottr is a simple add-on service to any community + content-driven marketer who is committed to proactive publishing. If you already manage content calendars and Twitter and/or Facebook are a significant part of your social ecosystem, then Trendspottr can help you increase your engagement and reach numbers by revealing what trends you can ride on.
The danger is that a brand community director will try too hard to align their brand with the latest Miley/Cats-stealing-dog's-beds/Batkid meme. Used in moderation, it will help brands be more contemporary and relevant.
Take a look:
The Dashboard page allows you to register for a free 30-day trial. That is a great deal. It would be strengthened if they offered a bit of a tutorial on setting up the dashboard effectively. Imagine that you sell home cleaning products. How would you set up a dashboard of trending topics (popular enough to be trending) that intersect with your category and even your brand? That's the wizard we need.