Social Media Monitoring Tips, Tricks and Challenges: Interview with Giles Palmer, CEO and Founder of Brandwatch

Giles Palmer began developing Brandwatch in 2005 and it has gone on to become one of the world’s leading Social Media Monitoring companies. With new offices in Europe and the US, their reach is spreading across the globe. I recently caught up with him to discuss these latest developments and find out what else is in store for Brandwatch.

Giles Palmer speaking at 'Monitoring Social Media'

You’re one of the pioneers of social media monitoring. How’s the industry changed in the last decade?

Giles: Well ten years ago we weren’t looking at social media monitoring at all; social networks didn’t exist and ‘social media’ only existed in forums and very early weblogs.

There were however, things like press clipping services, which is where many of today’s available tools have their roots but it’s nothing like today’s scene.

The past five years have seen the industry grow from a small pool of companies crawling a handful of forums to a sea of fully-fledged monitoring solutions with complete access to the Twitter firehose and other APIs. More recently, we’ve seen convergence between many of the tools, in a bid to cover everything a business might need in terms of social media. The truth is that there is no complete tool; each one has different strengths and weaknesses.

We generally say there are 3 types of monitoring company: free, self-serve, or serviced. Which is Brandwatch?

Giles: Brandwatch is largely a self-serve application, though to say we’re nothing but a vendor would be selling ourselves short. It’s available to anyone who wants to use our data and our analytic tools, but we also have a pretty handy insights team as well as world-class tech and operations teams, meaning we are here to help clients get the most out of the tool and the data.

Brandwatch seems to be going global! What are the challenges of monitoring across borders and language barriers?

Giles: Exactly, we’re really embracing the global approach for 2012, and our offices in the UK, USA and Germany are growing rapidly. With regard to monitoring, tackling a wider range of markets does pose one or two problems. Each region has its own nuances and particulars that we have to be very careful to observe. The social media use in China is entirely different to Russia, for example, and places like Brazil use the internet in a way which is quite dissimilar to the way Europeans do. Acknowledging this and helping our clients understand it is something we take very seriously at Brandwatch.

What’s your top tip for anyone starting out in social media monitoring?

Giles: For companies looking to start using social media monitoring, they first have to establish why they need to use it. Once you’ve worked out what you’re going to measure, look for or research, only then should you start to use the tool.

It’s also important to make sure you know a lot about what you’re looking for. Sure, you know what your brand is, but do you know what your brand isn’t? Think about the grammatical structure or language around your brand and how people may refer to it online, especially if they’re limited to just 140 characters.

What’s the biggest mistake you see brands making with their monitoring?

Giles: Like I was talking about before, too many companies fail to clarify their goals and aims from the outset. Just aimlessly monitoring your brand won’t reveal much insight unless you know what you want to find.

Even when companies do know what they’re looking for, they often struggle to narrow the results to make them as relevant as possible. We work with our clients to make sure they know why they need to use Brandwatch and how to get the best results.

ROI is obviously a big deal in social media. What’s the clearest example of ROI from monitoring that you’ve seen?

Giles: One of our clients, a booking agency, used Brandwatch to track the chatter around their brand and their competitors, as well as monitoring general discussion about their industry. They found that they could improve their customer service and found some new opportunities for advertising and targeted campaigns, but ultimately they were actually able to identify that they were now able to convert 30% of enquiries through their Concierge service into sales. I believe you can read more about that case study on our website.

Social media monitoring is an exciting industry. What’s the latest best thing? What’s coming next?

Giles: Well how do you monitor a picture or a video? It’s not possible right now, but it will be. I uploaded some images to G+ yesterday and it asked me to tag the faces it found in my pictures. From now on it’s likely to make an effort to automatically tag similar images. Think about this working for logos or other company-owned images. That’s another strand to monitoring that we’re looking at right now. It’s tricky but it’s a very interesting addition.

What’s in the pipeline for Brandwatch? Can you share any secrets with us?

Giles: We’re working on some BIG things, and I’ve been putting a lot of my own time into making our tool better than anything else out there. Not sure exactly what I should be sharing with you here, but right now we are working on our own influence metric system, which should complement our current capacity to offer Klout, PeerIndex and more recently Kred information in the app. I can’t imagine there are any other tools available that are able to offer this level of data on influence.

You can click here to request a demo and try Brandwatch for yourself.

On July 19th Our Social Times and Brandwatch are hosting a webinar on Social Media Monitoring for Customer Service.  It’s free to watch and you can register here.

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  • Drabjohns

    Congratulations Giles, nice to see you doing so well.

  • Matthew James

    Brandwatch sounds like something I would try :) thanks for the review!!

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