The explosive growth of social media is changing how companies interact with customers.  Those that understand social media know that what is being said about them online can have a huge impact on their bottom line.

There are a number of ways to monitor a brand online. Some free services will monitor search engines for mention of specific keywords and other medium-specific tools can be used to monitor media like Twitter. But when I asked the pros what they use, the name Radian6 came up — over and over again.

Radian6, founded in 2007, is based in Fredericton, New Brunswick and has 45 full-time employees.  Amber Naslund, the firms’s Director of Community, explained,

“Radian6 provides the social media monitoring platform for marketing, communications and customer support professionals. The company’s flexible dashboard enables monitoring all forms of social media with results appearing in real-time as discovered. Various analysis widgets give users the ability to uncover the top influencers as well as which conversations are having an impact online.

Radian6 gathers real-time-as-discovered information from across the social web, including blogs, video sharing sites, boards and forums including LinkedIn Answers, and emerging media such as FriendFeed and Twitter.”

After a brief online training session that Radian6 provides to all new customers, I logged in to their slick web application and began to enter some keywords I wanted to track.  And that’s where the similarity with free tools ended.  Radian6 provides powerful tools to drill down in results and analyze them. For example, I could quickly sort hits based upon the level of engagement (measured by comments) or inbound links.

While savvy companies will obviously want to read everything written about their products, it is often necessary to prioritize.  Radian6 not only finds relevant information and conversations, but they also provide the tools needed to analyze and prioritize.

While monitoring their brand is an obvious priority for Radian6’s 300+ customers, I can imagine many other uses.  For example, by choosing the right keywords and leveraging Radian6’s powerful widgets, I was able identify and begin to track key influencers on specific subjects.  A similar approach could also be used to track competitors, business partners or a key industry.

It didn’t take long to understand why PR pros pointed me to Radian6. Behind their advanced software is a team that not only understand and embrace social media, but they also ‘get’ customer service. When I needed help, one Tweet and Amber had me sorted out in a matter of minutes.  It doesn’t get better than that.

8 Responses to Radian6: Monitoring Social Media

  1. Evolving Squid
    Apr 16, 2009

    This is why Joe User should stay away from social media. If a person values their privacy to the extent that she doesn’t want everything she types used as a prompt for some huckster to fling a sales pitch at her, then social media is becoming less and less of a place to be.

    Right now, there’s a large oo-ah factor, but I feel confident that people will tire of interaction with advertisers and PR in their social tools.

  2. Amber Naslund
    Apr 16, 2009

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks so much for the great writeup, and for taking the time to check us out. In a space that’s moving and changing so fast, we’re excited about the possibilities for both social media, and for companies looking to tap the vast potential of the space.

    Appreciate the support, and look forward to working with you more in the future.

    Amber Naslund
    Director of Community, Radian6

  3. Eric Jacksch
    Apr 16, 2009

    Darin, corporations have used newspaper (and other media) clipping services to monitor their brand for decades. Why wouldn’t they do the same for social media? If you mention a company on your blog wouldn’t they want to know about it? In fact, if you mention a company on your blog, aren’t you inviting them to a conversation?

    There is a huge difference between using social media to broadcast advertising — something we all dislike — vs. actively engaging in conversations about their brand or field of expertise. Smart companies and individuals focus on providing value through social media.

  4. Eric Jacksch
    Apr 16, 2009

    I should add that I think one benefit of social media is better customer service. Large companies are becoming much more accessible and responsive. Impersonal “fill out this web form and we might get back to you” support is being replaced with prompt replies on Twitter. And those companies who provide poor service are being increasingly held accountable.

  5. Evolving Squid
    Apr 16, 2009

    I don’t disagree with you that it can be used for good purposes – such as improved customer support. What I am saying is that it will be used for less good purposes much more often as time goes on. Usenet in 1989 was a great place to chat and get useful information. In 2009, it is a great place to buy penis pills and find people in Nigeria to send money to. Social media is certainly going to be perverted much more quickly than that.

    In answer to your second question, I wouldn’t say that mentioning a company is an invitation to a conversation with that company. The concept of the review has been around for ages and doesn’t represent an invitation to conversation… movie reviewers neither expect nor especially desire conversation with producers, for example. It’s probably a serious misconception to assume that every time someone mentions a brand they are courting some sort of interaction with that brand. I’ve written a lot about the iPhone… I’d be quite annoyed if Apple sent some kind of corporate fanboi to write pro-iPhone crap on my blog. If I’ve made an error, then it would be cool for them to correct that error… having an error would bug me. But the purpose of mention them has nothing to do with courting interaction with Apple, their PR people, their support, or sales team. It’s fair to say that MOST mentions of a brand would be like that.

    And there’s the rub. If I tweet to you about Product X, odds are that neither of us is especially interested in hearing from X.Corp, even if we’re having the conversation in a public place. It is arrogant presumption to assume that we are.

    In answer to your first question, yes, I can certainly see why a brand would want that information. But understanding that a brand might want that information is not the same as agreeing or desiring to give it to them. In this way, I see big advantages in social media for brands, and considerable detriment to the privacy of the consumer in ways that can’t be paralleled by clipping services or even Google.

    The one-line summary here is that I believe that it is neither in the consumer’s best interest, nor the individual’s favour to feed marketing analysts in the way that seems to be taking root in social media. It’s my opinion that people don’t want brands to reach them, they want to be able to reach the brands – a subtle but important difference in point of view.

  6. Scott Wright
    Apr 17, 2009

    Great debate. I think it shows the two polar perspectives. Companies absolutely need to monitor their brand, as long as people are talking about it, in whatever forums it may be mentioned.

    As for the “value proposition” of social media to individuals, it may diminish or evolve from what we see today. Personally, I think it will tend toward smaller communities who can leverage the technology for more focused purposes, that will likely cause it to be more costly for “hucksters” to penetrate – not that it would be impossible. But I can see an equilibrium somewhere within these protected communities — like mine at http://www.streetwise-security-zone (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

  7. dominiq
    Jul 09, 2009

    I’m curious what type of results you get.

    “For example, by choosing the right keywords and leveraging Radian6’s powerful widgets, I was able identify and begin to track key influencers on specific subjects”.

    We use a different approach (more topological) and have as an example found the top 500 influencers in cloud computing.

    This took us 4 hours and some expertise.

    I wonder how you can find influencers with keywords. On cloud computing as an example you have people from different communities talking about the topic: Tech, VC’s, marketers… these different communities have different influencers.

    Can you elaborate ?


  8. Eric Jacksch
    Jul 10, 2009

    I’m by no means an expert, but for example I found I could identify key influencers based upon factors like inbound links and the number of comments on their blogs.

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