I’ve explored many social media monitoring tools over the last few years. This week I added to the list when I received a demo of Sysomos – a Toronto-based company launched in 2007. Along with Radian6 and the Alterian-acquired Techrigy, Sysomos is one of the well-known players in the monitoring landscape right now.
Sysomos’ offerings are split into two products (see a detailed breakdown on the Sysomos website):
- Maps – Sysomos’ core tool – offering unlimited search queries and analysis on its database of conversations.
- Heartbeat – Sysomos’ enterprise-level tool, incorporating search, analysis and workflow management around specific topics.
I’ve structured this review to around the major features I look for in a monitoring tool:
- Analysis features
Both Sysomos tools query the same database of conversations, which stretches back to 2006. All users can run queries on this entire database (historical data in the Heartbeat tool comes with an additional cost), which solves a problem I’ve frequently encountered in the past – being able to look back in time to run baseline and historical searches for new clients.
Sysomos also allows the creation of boolean searches – a feature I welcome as it allows the creation of complex queries very easily.
To my surprise, Sysomos didn’t seem to search the full breadth of social networks we’ve come to expect. When we asked about searching MySpace, for example, we were told that we could find MySpace if we searched for “specific users.”
With that said, Sysomos does include public Facebook pages and groups in its search results. Other tools (Techrigy, for example) do this too, but it’s a useful feature that’s becoming more important as Facebook continues to dominate other social networks (in North America, at least).
One area in which Sysomos does fall slightly short of its competitors is in the organization of queries. Whereas Radian6 allows hierarchies of queries, so you can separate searches for your competitors from those for your brand, for example.
The interface on Sysomos products was one of the big eye-openers for me. Long frustrated with interfaces that limit your options, I was pleased to see a very user-friendly dashboard which allows easy on-the-fly customization. Need to narrow your search duration? Just click and drag over a time period on a chart and it adjusts.
Sysomos comes with automated sentiment analysis. I’m a long-time cynic when it comes to this kind of feature. Companies seem to view it as almost a must-have nowadays but I’m not sure why when no-one is able to produce an accurate tool. Sysomos claims its sentiment analysis is 80 per cent accurate, but I’m afraid a 20% error margin is not good enough for me.
With that said, you can manually edit the sentiment assigned to results, and even a mere 80 per cent accuracy does mean less work for the person analyzing the data, so while I don’t consider the sentiment analysis a differentiator, it’s still handy.
The filtering system in Sysomos is very simple and flexible. You can layer new filters on top of your search at any time, and it’s easy to add those filters onto your main search permanently if you want to.
While the deep mining doesn’t seem to be quite as powerful as in some other tools, the breadth of options is wider – allowing deeper analysis on geography and a limited demographic breakdown (based on user-disclosed information).
While word clouds are run-of-the-mill nowadays, Sysomos goes one step further through what it calls its “BuzzGraph”, which shows the associations between common words in a search. I found the context provided by BuzzGraph to be a welcome addition to the rudimentary text analysis provided by most services.
Maps, as a search/analysis focused offering, doesn’t include a workflow system. Heartbeat, however, does. It incorporates the standard features we’ve come to expect, including task assignments. However, from the brief look I got, it doesn’t seem to go as far as Radian6′s workflow tool, which incorporates deeper categorization of posts, tagging and real-time email alerts.
Sysomos doesn’t come cheap. However, it’s roughly comparable with its competitors.
The Heartbeat tool starts at $500 per month, plus a $500 setup fee. For that you get a limited number of searches and access by up to five people. For double that fee, you can double the number of queries and get access by an unlimited number of people.
The Maps tool, meanwhile, comes at a flat rate of $2,500 per month. That allows unlimited searches on all data going back to 2006, and unlimited access, making it a potentially cost-effective tool for agencies servicing multiple clients.
I was very impressed with Sysomos. In particular:
- The flexibility of the user interface is a big plus;
- Filtering and segmentation tools combine to be a powerful analysis tool;
- Different products for both corporate and agency needs.