August 2, 2010 10:09:00 AM
Earlier this year I taught a beginner-level class on social media through MUW''s Department of Continuing Education. Though he has been involved in the development of modern computers and was teaching a computer history class through the same program, Claude Simpson enrolled in my class for an update on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Toward the end of the six-week course, Claude asked if he could bring his son-in-law, Olivier Messiot, to speak to the class about his work.
Olivier works for a company named Spotter and it specializes in monitoring what happens on TV, radio, print and the Internet, analyzing that information and providing reports for companies based on that information. Companies can use this service to monitor their public image, to get feedback on a new product and even to receive up to the second alerts when a major news event concerning their brand occurs.
Samsung is a client of Spotter and they have used the service to monitor the public''s response to one of the company''s new cell phones. Samsung wanted to create a serious competitor to Apple''s iPhone and they wanted Spotter to monitor TV, online message boards and social media such as Twitter to see what the public said about their new phone. As the public was exposed to various marketing for this phone, they reacted by posting their opinions of the product online. Spotter monitored all of these postings and provided Samsung an in-depth analysis of the public''s feelings on the product. Samsung used this feedback to determine what improvements were needed to be a serious iPhone competitor.
McDonald''s is also a client. Let''s say the fast-food chain is planning the release of a new McFlurry flavor and wants to monitor customer reaction to the new flavor. Olivier says that people literally hold their lunch in one hand and post comments on Twitter and Facebook with the other. By monitoring and analyzing these status updates, Spotter can give McDonalds detailed reports on how the new flavors are received.
Airplane manufacturer Airbus uses the service to monitor all major media for alerts on their planes. These days an individual with a cell phone camera can report on a news event way before a major media outlet can. Let''s say an Airbus plane crashes in a remote area of the country. Shortly after the first witness posts a Twitter or Facebook update about the crash Spotter automatically analyses the update and determines that Airbus needs to be altered. This nearly instantaneous alert allows Airbus to start responding to the situation almost immediately. This type of early notice would be invaluable in this type of situation.
Doing a text search for "Airbus" on Twitter is something that anyone with a computer can do. Spotter''s service does more than just keyword searches though. They use semantics and 22 different languages to not just find keywords but also to look at how the words are used. What is the mood of the person writing about Airbus? Do the words they use indicate there is an emergency? Spotter is able to automatically make these determinations and report to Airbus accordingly. With today''s 24-hour news cycle and endless Internet updates, companies need the ability to monitor what is being said about them and to respond appropriately.
In addition to using their own software to analyze information from the Internet, Spotter uses services like Lexis-Nexus to search print media. Spotter also has partnerships with other companies who specialize in analyzing TV broadcasts. By bringing all of these media together and providing both automatic and human analysis, Spotter can make informed recommendations to their clients.
Spotter''s plan for growth in the U.S. is to contract with around 20 "master agents." These master agents will serve as marketers of the Spotter service to companies and other agents. Quest Group in West Point is Spotter''s first master agent in the US. Because of the connections Olivier has made in the area he said that Spotter is considering locating their U.S. customer service hub in the Golden Triangle.
As Spotter grows in the U.S., Olivier sees the company taking on not only large corporations but also regional companies as clients. He also sees value in the service to lobbyists and politicians. Why would a politician wait on the results of a poll when he or she could constantly gauge the public''s perception of them using Spotter?
Tapping into the constant stream of information that exists online is something more and more companies will find valuable. The fact that such an innovative tech company is considering the Golden Triangle for their operations is very exciting. For more information on Spotter, you can visit their website at www.spotter.com.
Peter Imes is the general manager at The Dispatch. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @pimes.
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