How Talkwalker is aiming to take social listening to the next level

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

The marketing landscape today is one where data gathering and customer experience continues to increase at an exponential rate. Brands don’t want the fear of missing out on a good customer review, or a positive mention, or even genuine advice on how to improve their offerings.

In the social Wild West however, finding the golden four-leaf clover amid the field of ill-use and irrelevance is becoming increasingly difficult. Social media monitoring tools are able to collect and filter all the mentions, but the rise of social listening takes things a step further. Instead of collating audience response based on engagement rate and number of mentions, social listening tools promise analysis based on mood for greater insights.

Talkwalker, a provider of social listening and analytics software with offices in the US, Germany, Singapore and Luxembourg, is a good example of showcasing social listening in action. Ahead of her speaking appearance at #DMWF North America later this month, MarketingTech spoke with Milena Schmidt (left), US marketing manager at Talkwalker, on the company’s USP and changing customer expectations in a world of data deluge.

MarketingTech: Hi Milena. Tell us about how Talkwalker aims to help brands and how the company came into being?

Milena Schmidt: Talkwalker is a social listening and analytics company that empowers brands and agencies to optimize their communication efforts. Our founders Thibaut Britz and Christophe Folschette met playing table tennis 10 years ago in Luxembourg. One had built his first search engine at age 17, and the other was an analyst at one of the ‘big four’. Together, they recognised the need for a tool to manage, collate, and analyse all of this new social data. Their first attempt led them to crawling German blogs, but they quickly added features to make it more user-friendly, adding more data sources and visualizations.

Today we provide companies with an easy-to-use platform to protect, measure and promote their brand worldwide. Talkwalker's analytics platform uses AI-powered technology to monitor and analyse online conversations in real-time. With over 2,000 global clients including Barneys New York, BASF, Merck & Duracell, and agencies such as Ogilvy, Publicis & Peppercomm. Additionally, we’ve been recognized by both Gartner and Forrester.

MT: How does Talkwalker differ from its competition in the social media analytics and social listening space and why?

MS: We learned from our earliest days that the data management tools we provided would only be as useful as the languages and sources we pulled from. Talkwalker currently offers analysis from 187 languages (more than the competition) and we pull that data from over 150 million websites including the majority of the world's largest social media platforms. Talkwalker’s culture of innovation allowed us to develop the most cutting-edge tools in the industry We’re currently the only platform that offers video logo recognition.

MT: Tell us which of Talkwalker’s clients is the best example of how the company’s product is shown off and why?

MS: Using Talkwalker, Hong Kong Airlines turned a pricing error crisis into a social media success, winning new fans worldwide for their integrity and forthrightness. The GM of Branding and Social Media at Hong Kong Airlines said that “when we see what is happening in 'real time' on social media we are better prepared to make timely and informed decisions, and communicate those decisions well. Social listening and analytics tools are critical to success.”

MT: Talkwalker noted it was the first social listening company to offer video recognition capability in March this year. How was this implemented and how does it help brands? Was this change customer-driven?

MS: By 2021, videos are predicted to make up to 80% of content on the Internet. Talkwalker empowers brands to capture all of the instances in which they are mentioned and their logos are shared.  While logo recognition in images is helpful, video is truly the holy grail in our quickly changing landscape.  

Videos go viral faster, they're consumed for longer time, and our clients needed to be able to measure their performance. For us that meant pulling in hidden brand mentions from videos. Our clients are successfully using this capability to measure X, capture X, and lots more.

MT: How have customer expectations evolved as Talkwalker’s business has evolved in your opinion, in terms of getting greater data-driven insights? What do customers want and what are their concerns when they come to you?

MS: Talkwalker users switching between multiple data sources. Imagine having to manually pull data from Facebook Analytics, Instagram, and other platforms. We are constantly integrating data sources from new partners in order to streamline the user experience.  The more data sources we pull, the more specific our platform allows us to get. We've moved from basic positive/negative sentiment analysis to teaching our AI about things like sarcasm and irony. We're able to segment opinions based on things like flavours, textures, and emotions. It's very impressive when you can type in "potato chips" into our search bar and in two clicks you can say "41% of people think they are too salty."

Customers come to us when they start to understand that a lot of their processes are manual and repetitive. They are ready for AI technology to automate and measure some of the tasks that their social media team labours over.

One question we often get by people learning about this technology for the first time – "Are you spying on me?". Privacy matters to us and we take it seriously.  We have no access nor interest in your personal social media accounts. We are only looking at public data, which mostly means brands, or your reaction to them. What are brands doing on social media? That's a question we want to answer. What does the public think about what they are doing? We'll check the data.

MT: What are you hoping to get out of the DMWF North America event and what are you looking forward to most?

MS: We're very excited to be here. We have a ton of cool things going on over the two days. We are looking forward to showing off our video recognition AI and how it can help companies protect, measure, and promote their brand. If you're looking forward to that too come to join us at our booth #46 and play our new Catch-a-Logo Augmented Reality game. We have a fireside chat on day one at 1040 with our client Nestle Waters. It's going to be an informative way to learn how you can apply social listening to your social strategy.

We're hoping to meet tons of great people, we're eager to share our best practices, and take in all of the great innovation that’s happening in the industry.

MT: What can we expect from Talkwalker for the rest of 2019 and going into 2020?

MS: We're constantly innovating and partnering with the platforms that matter in the social media landscape. We aim to release new features several times a year, and more great ones are coming soon. We will soon be releasing our Social Media Trends Report 2020 with insight into what's going to matter on social next year.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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