Social media is rapidly becoming mainstream with the rise of blogs and user-generated sites like Del.icio.us, Digg, YouTube, Myspace, and Reddit. The point being that there are hundreds or thousands of conversations occuring online that businesses need to monitor and respond to — but very few tools to do it. Will some entrepeneur out there put together a couple devs and build a tool that will allow corporations to efficiently monitor & respond to conversations in the blogosphere?? Or has someone already built it and I just haven’t found it (if so, let me know)?

The piece of the puzzle really missing is the ability for multiple people to efficiently share the reading and responding. For instance, how does a company ensure that internal PR and customer service employees are not all consistently reading the same posts? They don’t unless there is already a comment on that blog from a co-worker — but even in this came both employees spend the time reading the post, which is not a good use of time. Especially in larger companies — that is a lot of lost productivity resulting from not knowing what others are up to.

What’s available now:

  • Blog searches – Technorati, Bloglines, Ice Rocket, and Google Blog Search are all helpful in finding conversations occurring.
  • Comment Tracking – companies like CoComment and Commentful are reasonably effective at tracking your conversations. Cocomment displays threads that have been commented on since you viewed the conversation in bold to help you figure out what threads need review.
  • Aggregation of RSS Data – Yahoo! Pipes is a fairly new application (feed aggregator and manipulator) and I haven’t fully grasped the full capabilities of what it can do, but I’m very impressed so far. The only real thing I’ve done is aggregate Zillow mentions from blog search engines into one “pipe” (seen here). There’s lots of potential here, which I’ll be investigating soon.

With the explosion of new media, corporations are going to be forced into monitoring the blogosphere whether they want to or not — it’s going to be a necessity from a PR standpoint to catch things before they get out of control. Efficient tools to monitor and respond are not yet available, but my hunch is that they will be soon.

Here’s the features that I’m looking for:

  • Aggregate RSS data (Yahoo Pipes functionality)
  • User-defined queues & ability to assign a post from an RSS feed to one of several queues or individuals. Queues I can think of off the top of my head:
    • Need to be responded to
    • Already read — not responded to
    • Already read — was responded to & need to monitor for responses
    • Already read — worth tracking the comments
  • Users should be able to manually enter a URL & assign to a queue (for content that doesn’t come through RSS)
  • Support multiple users & be able to assign users to different queues
  • Associate a status (probably just a checkbox or drop-down) next to posts in the queues. Available options:
    • Read
    • Responded to (this should be automatically marked using comment tracking)
  • Integrated comment tracking
  • A way to designate different levels of authority for different users — if you are training someone at the job to start engaging with bloggers publicly on behalf of the company, they should be able to review posts in a queue, but not have it completely checked off as something someone else doesn’t need to review.
  • I’ll update this post with more feature requests as they come to me. Please leave a comment if you have one I’m missing.

Essentially, this seems like a case where someone needs to build some functionality on top of Yahoo Pipes to enable post tracking bundled with multi-user support. I’m no developer — but it can’t be that hard, can it??

In case you didn’t figure it out, I’ll happily get my company (Zillow) on board as a BETA tester if anyone is developing such a monitoring tool — I promise to give lots of great feedback. I think there is definitely money to be made for a small, motivated team in this space using a corporate subscription license model (at a reasonable price).


  • Drew, there are a few companies that are doing this under a kind of ad agency model ($40k/year). A few that you might like to check out are buzzlogic.com and Nielsen Buzzmetrics.

    They are nowhere near your nirvana of workflow, as far as I know, but they are all on the same road to it.

  • Drew Meyers

    Niki-
    Thanks for the heads up. For a company the size of Zillow, $40k to monitor the blogosphere is not reasonable. I’m looking for some scrappy developers to build something cheaper đŸ™‚

  • I wonder if NewsGator offers these features with their Enterprise edition. Might be worth a look.

  • Drew Meyers

    Easton –
    Thanks for the heads up. There was also an article in the latest Fortune magazine that talked about Buzz Logic (I think that was the name of the company).

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  • haha – yea, I just switched the theme on my blog. what can i do to fix it?