OpenBrands is a new start-up that makes brand monitoring on Twitter a “social sport.” It has the potential to make the random stream of Twitter’s chatter far more readable and produce powerful data about what people really think of companies, ideas, and brands. This is exactly the kind of information one needs to judge the sustainability merits (or any merits for that matter) of any given company or brand.
Open Brands isn’t the first company to try and make sense of brand reputation via the internet. A few years ago, Saatchi and Saatchi published a fascinating website about brands called “Lovemarks.” On the site, users can add a brand – the term is defined loosely to include everything from major corporations to sports teams to the name of your city – and then leave a comment about their feelings, positive or negative, surrounding it. A hierarchy of respect is then developed based entirely on that social data and conversation ensued between participants.
Google’s Zeitgeist automatically allows one to monitor the frequency with which search terms are typed into Google. For example, the spread of the flu can be tracked across the globe as sick people use Google to find relief. The same technology can be applied to brand monitoring, giving companies the tools to see when their brand becomes a heated topic.
Now there’s Twitter, which has become a useful tool for companies to read their reputation pulse by monitoring mentions of their name. However, the signal to noise ratio is getting so high that it’s difficult to make sense of the information without a team of interns monitoring the site day and night.
Open Brands takes the wealth of data available on Twitter, creates a Zeigeist-like radar view of what’s happening in real-time and develops a Lovemarks-style database of community perception about brands. To top it off, OpenBrands proposes an intelligent and automatic way to make sense of the crowd. They do this by providing five pieces of data:
1) Brand Strength – A simple measurement of the frequency that a particular brand is mentioned
2) Signal – The likelihood that a URL or hashtag is included with the brand. This is a mark of clarity vs. noise as people who include these things are more likely providing valuable insight
3) Brand Favor – An emerging technology that attempts to suggest a ration of citations using positive vs. negative language.
4) Brand Passion – Measures the likelihood that folks who tweet about the brands will do so again
5) Clout – Measures the total number of people referencing the given brand.
For example, check out the information on Southwest Airlines. Just a quick look shows a nice stream of commentary and some pretty in depth information about what seems to be a pretty well respected brand.
At the end of the day, the site also should allow companies to get to know folks who have useful information about how the company can improve operations. It could also allow activists to react more efficiently to negative or positive company actions, improving the rewards companies might reap for doing the right thing and perhaps the penalty for making egregious mistakes.
My opinion is that anything that brings more voices into the conversation in a transparent and productive way is a good thing. Something that can help a company make sense of it all should prove to give the company a boost to understanding how much people really want to see companies do the right thing.