Mining social media has been an illusive task. A multitude of analytics are available, but no one comprehensive tool to really cut through the clutter. A new product in development by Microsoft Advertising under the code-name "LookingGlass" may be the help brands are looking for. It claims to monitor and analyze social networks up close and personal.
On September 23, Robin Domeniconi, vice president of US sales for the company unveiled the prototype at Advertising Week 2009 in New York City. Using the feature of real-time data capture, LookingGlass is said to automatically determine whether the feedback people are saying about your brand or product is positive or negative.
LookingGlass will automatically rate and rank comments that were posted on the social networks of Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, YouTube and others. According to Microsoft Advertising's blog once tweets and status updates filter into the social media streams, LookingGlass will be able to determine the activity and pinpoint how the campaigns are beeing received, if there is a spike in interest, what customer segments are emerging and act as a barometer as to whether or not the brand's message is on target.
Available for Web browsers on PCs and Macs, Microsoft's Silverlight Technology will empower individuals and marketing teams in different locations to review the data at the same time. This would allow product teams to quickly react and change course or direction if need be.
Jamey Tisdale and Marc MercuriJamey Tisdale, group product marketing manager for the platform strategy group and Marc Mercuri who’s the team’s director of business innovation believe LookingGlass will allow businesses to analyze their advertising investments in new ways. The emphasis is that LookingGlass is its own platform, which adds to the value of Microsoft's suite of business software products. All of the data collected should be able to connect into Microsoft's platforms and third-party CRM products, such as Outlook, Sharepoint and SalesForce.
"Microsoft is uniquely qualified to be able to connect business information with social media information in a way that makes it actionable," said Jamey. So all the social media that most brands are drowning in becomes addressable and accountable.
On the flip side, while the tool is meant to be collaborative and work with a variety of third-party social media vendors and platforms, as a Microsoft product, brands that don't currently use Microsoft may be limited..
So is this a game-changer? Other similar start-ups such as PeopleBrowsr provide freemium platforms, while ViralHeat's monitoring tool is available at a $9.99 sign-up fee. Their service gives you data on the number of websites that mention a topic in a given week and day, the country where users are most actively mentioning a topic, the average number of mentions per day, the breakdown of mentions between blogs and websites and more.
Socialseek offers a desktop application that lets you search for a topic, item, brand or company across blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and events. You can also track mentions of a particular search query by city and receive graphs and charts that track trends regarding the popularity of a topic across websites.
While the technology is desperately needed, and it would be welcomed by business folks that are trying to prove the worth of social media to their superiors, skeptics will still question LookingGlass' validity until its launch and tangible results can be discerned. According to an AdAge report, the monitoring tool is still in "proof of concept" stage and will be open to a very small group of testers next month. So the jury is out until the tests are in. We won't be allowed access to Microsoft's rabbit hole for a while, and who knows... by then, another start-up might have perfected a better looking glass!