Brandwatch is the latest social listening/social intelligence tool to offer up a product around audience-centric listening. This trend in the industry will continue as the software companies jockey to offer the same features as their competitors.
Audience-centric listening actually breaks the mold of social listening and social monitoring platforms and allows you to begin with an audience or audience segment to learn more about rather than starting with a keyword. Search was the methodology all the social technologists knew in 2004-05 when the nascent social monitoring platforms developed, so keyword-centric listening is all we’ve known until recently.
Now NetBase (disclosure: a client) as well as a small handful of others have an audience-centric feature set. It’s normally an up-charge and Brandwatch’s version, called Audiences, is no different. It’s an add-on to enterprise accounts and runs about $1,000 per month extra.
However, as I understand it, Brandwatch’s version is less sophisticated than others I’ve seen. Its definition of an audience is a segment pulled together based on keywords in bios of Twitter accounts or in keywords searched for within Tweets. So instead of looking at anyone who mentions “Budweiser” you can segment out an audience of people who have “beer” or “partying” in their bios, in addition to the old fashioned way of just searching for a keyword, though now you can isolate that audience and analyze more than just the mentioned word or phrase.
This is an interesting approach, but as I’ve explained before, I worry that an all-in dependence on Twitter for your audience is a mistake. And if you’re now allowing users to segment by demographics, geography, etc., then it doesn’t meet many of the consumer insights and research standards traditional marketing depends on.
Still, it doesn’t mean what you can produce with Brandwatch’s new feature isn’t useful. I just hope everyone puts it in the proper context. Can you glean good insights from a rudimentary version of “audience” vs. a more research-familiar and deeper segmentations? Sure you can. But let’s make sure we know what Brandwatch is offering is rudimentary and very much focused on Twitter.
I haven’t played with the feature myself as of yet. I do have a Brandwatch account, but am not an enterprise customer and haven’t been offered the test drive. I’ll certainly report back if I get it.
Until then, you can check out more about Brandwatch Audiences on their website.