Over the last two years relatively few truly ambitious social media tools have emerged. Recently, the best new social tools have been those focused on a single problem; tools that present a single innovation to incrementally improve on a particular facet of social experience. I love many of these tools and find the social media universe to be progressively better because of them.
But I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the big thinkers; the misfits whose appetite for a challenge makes them fated for one of two outcomes: greatness or crash and burn. In the social media world these are the thinkers who make tools that challenge you to think about things in an entirely different (and possibly better) way.
Meshfire is one of these tools.
Yesterday, Amber Osborne, gave us a glimpse of Meshfire's moxie. Today I want to take it a step further and see how Meshfire and all its ambitions performs on the famed Nacho Scale.
Let's dive in!
The Meshfire Review
Here's a one word review of Meshfire: futuristic. Futuristic in feel. Futuristic in design. Futuristic in aspiration.
Let's start with the most important aspect of Meshfire (or any social media tool, really): Star Trek. I can't say this definitively, but I'm pretty confident that Meshfire was designed by Trekkies. Three reasons:
1. Meshfire organizes everything around "missions."
2. Your Meshfire dashboard doesn't feel like a dashboard, it feels like the console of a space ship.
3. Meshfire comes with its very own bit of AI, a helpful, goofy little guy named "Ember."
Ember also calls me "boss" which warms my inner-tyrant's heart. But Star Trek parallels and suckupitude alone aren't enough to earn Meshfire a big plate of nachos. No, glory goes to those who perform. Fortunately, Meshfire performs.
Meshfire's ambitions are sizable: to reinvent the way communities are built, managed and optimized on Twitter. At its most basic level, Meshfire is a Twitter client with to-do list and metrics capabilities built-in. One level deeper, Meshfire is a plethora of things: an influencer evaluator, a trend watcher and a conversation tracker. Let's evaluate each of these components one-by-one.
Twitter client: Meshfire is less-cluttered than TweetDeck and more useful than Twitter.com. On your Web-based Meshfire dashboard, you'll find a tab for your inbox and outbox. The inbox features a clean interface with columns for your timeline, mentions and direct messages. Your outbox includes columns for sent messages, scheduled tweets and tweets pending approval. This last column hits at one of the key aspects of Meshfire: it's designed for team-based Twitter management. For example, a community manager might draft a day's worth of tweets and have them stored in Meshfire for another team member to approve. This is a must-have feature for any organization that has multiple people involved in the Twitter output process.
Twitter to-do list: One of the key differentiators for Meshfire is its Taskboard. It's organized around the principle of a to-do list, with Ember suggesting Twitter tasks (e.g. respond to @MissDestructo's tweet) in addition to tasks you input yourself. Within your Taskboard you have all sorts of options for how to engage (or not engage) with tweets that you/Ember deem relevant. If I were a community manager for example, I could teach Ember to find mentions of my brand and highlight them for me to engage with.
The Taskboard is the place where Meshfire is perhaps most innovative, and also one of the places where I have the most difficulty figuring out how to start. We're just at the start of the AI in personal tech revolution, and from Siri to Cortana our imaginations are being stretched as to how to use such tools effectively. Meshfire is no different. Meshfire already has the tech down, this is simply a communications challenge: we need to be taught how to use AI like Ember and for what end? I have great confidence that Amber and the smart folks at Meshfire will increasingly chip away at this mental barrier for slow-pokes like me in the days ahead.
Metrics: Meshfire also includes pretty standard, but helpful metrics for power users. Breakdowns customizable by date range for Tasks & Engagement, Engagement generally, Top Engagers (by Klout score), Audience (followers), New Followers, Impressions & Reach and Top Interactions are all built in. Not earth-shattering stuff, but definitely useful.
Influencer evaluator: The integration of Klout scores in Meshfire gives users a sense of the relative influence of the people whose Twitter activity shows up in your columns. I find this incredibly helpful as I look to identify new people to follow or add to lists. It's really useful in finding the signal amidst the noise.
One future innovation I'd like to see out of Meshfire is the ability to create custom rules that foreground tweets from those that have a certain Klout score or higher. It'd be great, for example, to monitor a broad topic like #socialmedia, but tailor that search to only show people with Klout scores over 60. As Amber said yesterday, Meshfire knows that custom rules are a key place they're investing in--I'm optimistic about what they might have in store for us in the near future.
Trend watcher: I can't tell you how often I look at Twitter's trending topics and am disappointed by the lack of information and context. Meshfire is definitely an improvement in this area. Its trending tab has a word cloud for trending topics that you can evaluate on a 15 minute, one hour, four hours or one day basis. The result is a richer and deeper set of trend analysis that can help inform the topics on which you should engage.
Conversation tracker: Like TweetDeck, Meshfire allows you to track certain conversations on Twitter using search terms. It's a pretty standard feature, but as I pointed out above, the fact that the results you see also contain Klout scores is a helpful add for those looking to find key voices amidst crowded conversations.
Those are some, not all of the highlights of Meshfire. It definitely packs a punch and possesses versatility that other Twitter clients lack.
Before I go too many paragraphs without mentioning Star Trek, let me torture my analogy just a bit more: like Star Trek and its Trekkies, one of the best parts of Meshfire is the community it has created around itself. Plenty of tools aim to make the lives of community managers easier, but Meshfire is the best I've seen at mirroring the community-oriented nature of its main customers. From the detailed welcome email you get upon sign-up, to the incredibly responsive customer service you get on Twitter or through the tool itself, Meshfire's communal ethos sets it apart.
Meshfire might not be your go-to Twitter client today, but I'm betting it'll be your go-to Twitter client in the future. I love its versatility and out-sized ambition. While there's definitely room for development in certain places (telling and showing us how to use the Taskboard, in particular), I'm incredibly impressed with this tool and its team.
Nachos and drinks for everyone!