What were people saying about your brand on social networks in China this week? What product discussions were taking place on forums in Germany and Brazil? How would you know? Synthesio.
The nature of the internet means almost every brand, large or small, is global. However, to track and filter social conversations in a world where there are millions of social sites spread over 200 countries is a complex task. There are social monitoring tools to help you, including many free tools, but there are very few that help you track, filter and report on social data on a truly global basis. This week in the SMToolbox we take a look at one of the global enterprise tools: Synthesio.
I have spent the last week with the tool and have reviewed how it supports brands to track and act on global social data. Whether it is a discussion on Twitter in the US or a discussion on Sina Weibo in China, Synthesio can alert you, assess the sentiment and the relative influence of the discussions taking place. This allows you to monitor and react appropriately to social conversations wherever they are taking place.
Tracking global social data is complex
There is still no agreed definition of big data but by any measure global social data is big data. If you are a global enterprise the tracking, filtering and analyzing of mentions of your brand is a challenge. On Facebook alone there are over 1.4bn active monthly users, 86% of which are outside the US. There are also hundreds of country specific social networks such as Sina Weibo in China, which has over 500m registered users. There are also hundreds of thousands of specific discussion forums across 200 countries.
Twitter is actually one of the smaller networks at 300m active users. However, in the last hour while I have been writing this review there were 15,000 tweets about Apple. Today there will be millions of mentions of Apple across global social networks.
It is a superhuman challenge to filter, distil and analyze this data. How do you see patterns of positive or negative sentiment across languages, countries and products? How do you assess who is influencing conversations in different countries and whether they are advocates or detractors? Also how do you do this in real time?
You may not have superpowers but you can call a tool that does (well almost). Synthesio is specifically designed to help companies make sense of big social data. The product is used by the world's leading brands to enable them to gain social insights to improve communications, create better products, and make their customers happy.
What this review covers
I love social monitoring and analyzing data. It is sad but I really do spend my evenings doing MIT courses on data analysis. Thus when I was offered the chance to review Synthesio's global social monitoring tool I jumped at the chance.
The way Synthesio works you need to set up projects and topics to monitor. I was given a live demo by the team and then access to a demo version of the tool. This allowed me to review a project and topics already set up by the team on the automotive industry. This enabled me to use features such as listening, analytics and return on investment tools for a set of data around the automotive industry.
I wasn't able to set up new projects or dashboards so I am not able to comment on these aspects or features. I think this is a key challenge with any data projects and I know that Synthesio work with their clients to help them set up projects. My focus for this review was on the listening and analysis tools.
The core interface
It is always a difficult balance between keeping things simple and easy to use and yet still provide powerful data analysis and insights. Synthesio have done an excellent job in achieving the right balance though you need to work with the filters and experiment.
The layout as you can see below is three columns. You can switch between listening, analysis and reports in the left column and in the right column you have an extensive range of filters. Your filtered content and analysis is displayed in the center of the screen.
The filters really are extensive particularly when it comes to sources. Synthesio tracks content across forums, news sites, blogs and social networks in over 50 languages and across 200 countries. In the image above you will see that the top mentions are from Forums.
The filters include:
keywords (full Boolean queries)
topics & sub-topics
media types and sources
countries, regions and cities
The filters also include a Synthesio Rank which is a proprietary influence ranking tool, designed to help brands and agencies identify the sites and content that matter most. In essence it is a proprietary algorithm that calculates a score out of 10 for every mention and piece of content collected about a brand which reflects its importance and influence. This allow you to filter for say only mentions with a rank of above 6.
Listening and Filtering Content
Synthesio will display your filtered content in the central panel. The filters as I mentioned are extensive. These make it easy for you to filter by language or country to specific topics or sources and by sentiment. You can also set favorite filters for ones you want to use regularly. Below is a selection of the filters available in the listening section.
The extensive nature of the filters means it will take a little while to develop the right combination of filters to focus in on your areas of interest. Despite all of the filtering I still struggled sometimes to get a sense of the areas I should focus on or explore further. One way I found to make more sense of the overall picture was to use the word clouds option. Often word clouds are pretty but add little value. In this case I found the use of color very helpful, positive sentiment is in green and negative sentiment in red.
Unlike many other tools Synthesio has a large team of people analyzing sentiment data. They believe that while you can go a long way with algorithms, and even farther in the future, but at the present time there is still a need for human analysis and refinement.
If you filter for negative content you can see the most common words and click on these to explore further. Virtually everything in Synthesio is clickable so you can dive deeper.
In addition to the live listening section there are ten analytics report formats in Synthesio that include:
There is also a global heatmap which shows where mentions are taking place, it does feel a little like being in a James Bond style war room. Synthesio may sound a little Bond villain but believe me, they're the good guys.
I really liked the influencer reporting feature. The report allows you to generate influencer lists for different social networks.
In the example below I have chosen Instagram and can see a list of influencers. Those that are advocates are highlighted in green and detractors are highlighted in red.
You can build specific influencer lists by simply clicking or starring the influencers. You can then use a llst to see how a specific audience is talking about a brand.
Return on Investment
Proving value is a major challenge for all companies when it comes to social. Synthesio recognizes this and has built a Return on Investment report section. This looks at a range of measures such as audience growth, share of voice and engagement.
Creating actionable insights is a key challenge for all monitoring tools. This section allows you to assess the results of campaigns and plan interventions. You can see where your audience is growing, how you are developing advocates and engaging audiences.
Also within this section is a unique Social Reputation Score (SRS). This is a proprietary score developed by Synthesio and shown as an SRS dashboard. I cannot comment on the accuracy of the score as I didn't have data for say my own company or companies that I have detailed knowledge of but I can see how it would be useful for companies in reporting on their performance.
Synthesio also allows you to create instant snapshots of data with their FlashDash tool. In this example I was exploring the breakdown of mentions by media type and as you can see forums are where most mentions were identified. Overall when using the tool I was surprised at just how many mentions were picked up from various discussion forums.
Synthesio is aimed at enterprises and charged on a per-project basis (number of dashboards and workspaces) rather than on data. Each project then offers unlimited queries (topics and subtopics), users and data volume.
If you are an enterprise that needs to monitor and track social data globally then Synthesio may be the tool you are after. Its coverage of social networks in 200 countries and over 50 languages is extensive. From my week of exploring the tool I can see why Forrester has recently named Synthesio one of the leaders in enterprise social listening.
If you would like to find out more or get a demo you can visit the Synthesio site.