What is Viralheat, and how did you and your team get started in this field?
Viralheat is a social media intelligence company that offers social media monitoring, analytics, engagement and management. Today we have more than 7,000 clients in 72 countries around the globe. These clients vary from independent contractors to enterprise organizations to agencies large and small.
Viralheat initially provided viral video analytics to large brands, but as social media continued to gain popularity, brands requested more platform coverage and monitoring capabilities. Based on this initial feedback and continued conversations with our customers, we now provide management for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as analytics for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, video sites and the real-time web. We also provide sentiment analysis, social leads and influencer identification across these channels as well.
How should the marketing/advertising industry utilize Viralheat to create better end-results for its clients’ content and social media strategies?
Viralheat’s two major components are social media management and monitoring.
With regards to social media management, brands and agencies with multiple social media accounts can effectively manage these accounts and engage with audiences through a unified platform. They can also publish to one or all of their accounts and see their mentions in walls and/or streams. Audience engagement options include replies, retweets, comments, likes, etc. Another feature of Viralheat is our downloadable account analytics in the form of graphs, statistics and reports.
Viralheat also provides social media monitoring. Our custom technology gives users the ability to monitor brands, products, industry trends, competitors and more. Users create “search profiles” based on keywords and phrases (such as competitors, brands, product, etc.) and are then able to do a number of things including:
- Compare and contrast profiles to gain insight into competitors, campaigns, product launches and more.
- See sentiment analysis, broken down by channel.
- Identify influencers across each channel or platform (including uncovering influencers for competitors or other brands).
- Surface Human Intent (social media leads), which can be downloaded into a spreadsheet or imported directly into Salesforce.
These insights help our users optimize their marketing and public relations efforts through optimized messaging, social channel choices and a better understanding of their target audience.
What trends and changes in the market led you to realize that Viralheat would fill a void?
The rapid growth of social media platforms meant that brands and agencies were increasingly tasked with creating relationships with their audience across multiple mediums. This led to an increased demand for tools and services that can manage and monitor social media. As the social platforms become more established, we are seeing a rise in the need for sentiment analysis and influencer identification as well.
What features does Viralheat have that other social media management platforms lack?
- We offer a unified solution that gives users the ability to manage, monitor and engage via multiple platforms from a single dashboard.
- Viralheat is built based on user feedback, meaning we are constantly listening to our customers and making updates and improvements at their request.
- Our flexible and scalable model means we can adapt on the fly to the changing needs of clients.
- We offer sentiment analysis on a per-mention basis.
- We utilize a trainable, machine learning technology that allows users to teach the tool so it can increase accuracy over time.
- Our patented Human Intent technology identifies audience members in a decision-making mentality, resulting in identified social leads.
- Viralheat surfaces influencers by channel, by volume (number of mentions about a brand or topic) and by impact (number of fans/followers they have) to deliver the most useful information for your organization.
- We provide professional services that can assist users with everything from set-up to reporting to actual customer outreach in a pinch — we put our customers first and are willing to accommodate their needs.
How does Viralheat determine if a social mention is positive or negative?
Viralheat uses custom built technology to analyze mentions. Our machine learning and National Language Processing (NLP) cluster is designed to be highly scalable. Each mention that comes into our system is categorized as positive, negative or neutral. Users can also “train” the system to learn what is a positive or negative sentiment with the ability to change a sentiment from positive to negative and vice versa. Our system is also one of the few services that is open. Viralheat opened our sentiment API to developers worldwide and there are currently over a 1,000 developers using our Sentiment APIs in their own applications and providing information back, which continues to improve overall accuracy.
What advice do you have for social media managers when responding to negative comments?
As much as negative comments can be difficult to handle, they provide an opportunity to let your customer service skills shine in a public forum. That being said, there are a few things to consider when responding to a negative comment on social:
First things first, social media managers should never ignore negative comments. Instead, they should address the comment immediately rather than let it sit and fall by the wayside. Negative comments that are ignored have the potential to do a lot of damage online, especially if it goes viral or picks up a lot of attention. When responding to the comment, they should thank the poster for the feedback and offer to take the conversation offline (through email, a phone call, etc.) to see what can be done to rectify the situation.
Social media managers should also remain calm in responding, and be careful to not take on a tone that could come off as defensive or brash. Because it’s very hard to read one’s tone online, all responses should sound calm and attentive.
Tell us about Viralheat’s advanced scheduling features social media managers can utilize to make posts hyper-relevant to a brand’s followers.
Viralheat’s publishing features make it easy for users to publish to one or multiple connected social media accounts. Users can choose any combination of accounts to post to simultaneously. Viralheat recently introduced groups. Now users can assign accounts to a group and select that group when posting brand-specific content, making multiple account management even simpler.
Viralheat also offers scheduled publishing so users can save time by setting up posts to go out in the future. Users have the option to select a time zone as well as a geo-targeting feature for Facebook accounts where they can choose a country, region, state or city to post to. This tool can help you maintain an active presence, even when you are unable to manually post to your social media accounts.
Lastly, Viralheat offers a publishing history that keeps tracks of all the posts created within the Viralheat dashboard. Social media managers have historical records of what has been posted or what is scheduled in order to keep track of content and engagement.
How do you see customer service through social media evolving in the next three to five years?
Customer service is getting increasingly social and will continue to do so. Customers used to be confined to a 1-800 number. That option evolved into e-mail correspondences. Now more and more customers are turning to social to get in touch with companies and brands. This is why it is important to monitor your social media networks — complaints, comments or compliments are increasingly coming through Twitter and Facebook accounts. Many customers prefer these networks due to the ease of communicating, so brands need to focus on building a customer service program that involves social.
In the next few years, brands that are on top of their social media experience will not only monitor their own brand, but also their competitors and the industry in general — mining for opportunities to connect with their audience, identify influencers and help consumers address their needs. By not only listening, but engaging early and often, brands will be able to develop loyalty, a unique persona and long-term relationships in a crowded online space.
Eileen Bernardo is the public relations and communication manager at Viralheat, a social media intelligence company. She has an M.S. in Public Relations and Corporate Communication from New York University and a B.A. in Communication from the University of California, San Diego. She loves the power of words and enjoys the challenge of taking industry jargon and retelling the story in a way for all to understand. When in the office you’ll find her writing — pitches, emails, marketing campaigns, blog posts, contributed and feature articles, content for the website, etc. She’s a pescatarian, dog lover, snowboarder and a sports fanatic who enjoys cheering for her favorite teams. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or @eileenrene.