Do you want to conduct large-scale research and analysis of social media, online news sites, blogs and forums? Modern AI tools can analyze social data across a wide variety of categories including social engagement level, sentiment, demographics, location, and more.
With this type of machine-learning tools, companies can get the information they need to protect online reputation, measure performance of marketing and PR campaigns and promote products and services more effectively.
Talkwalker is a company offering tools that can do this. I had a discussion with Christophe Folshette, co-founder of Talkwalker, and asked him more about their solution. He left business consulting at Accenture to follow his entrepreneurial spirit and firm belief in the value of social media intelligence for businesses.
From years of meeting with clients and developing Talkwalker, Christophe has become a cross-functional specialist in understanding the data and analytics requirements for clients’ business needs.
Now, over to the interview!
What is Your Company’s Background?
Myself and my co-founder Thibaut Britz founded Talkwalker in 2009 as we spotted an opportunity. Google had of course revolutionized the world of search but social media search and analytics was still relatively underdeveloped.
Despite millions of public posts being sent across social networks and online every day, there was no real way to collect and analyze this information effectively. So based on crawling technology developed by my co-founder Thibaut, Talkwalker was born to help companies analyze this data at speed and at scale.
Since then the Talkwalker platform has developed from a relatively simple social media monitoring tool to an enterprise level listening and analytics company that empowers over 1,000 brands and agencies to optimize the impact of their communication efforts. Talkwalker provides companies with an easy-to-use platform to protect, measure, and promote their brands worldwide, across all communication channels.
The platform incorporates AI-powered technology to monitor and analyze online conversations in real-time across social networks, news websites, blogs and forums in 187 languages. Talkwalker has also expanded from a three person operation in Luxembourg to a global company with offices in New York, Luxembourg, San Francisco, and Frankfurt.
What Problem Does Talkwalker Solve?
Talkwalker is a social listening and analytics company that empowers over 1,000 brands and agencies to optimize the impact of their communication efforts. We provide companies with an easy-to-use platform to protect, measure, and promote their brands worldwide, across all communication channels.
What Does Talkwalker do, and why is it Important to Your Customers?
The Talkwalker platform lets companies conduct large-scale research and analysis across online content including social media, online news sites, blogs and forums. Proprietary crawling technology first collects all this data, then the Talkwalker analytics engine analyzes the data across a wide variety of categories including social engagement level, sentiment, demographics, location, linked themes and much more. It also features AI-powered image analytics technology and sentiment analysis.
The broad range of data and analytics available gives companies the information they need to protect online reputation, measure performance of marketing and PR campaigns and promote products and services more effectively across every communications channel. Though launched originally in 2009, the Talkwalker platform has undergone continuous development starting originally as a simple social search engine, incorporating AI and machine learning technology in 2016 and becoming a globally recognized enterprise social listening solution today.
Key differentiators for Talkwalker include the full incorporation of AI-powered features, the usability of the platform and the wide data coverage.
All of Talkwalker’s AI technology is proprietary and is currently focused on image analytics capabilities, sentiment analysis and data classification. Talkwalker’s image analysis is able to detect not only brand logos, but also scenes and objects within images to give clients greater clarity on the context these images are used in. What really marks Talkwalker out here is the size of Talkwalker’s logo database (over 30,000 global brands) and the variety of analytics available.
Talkwalker is also the only listening and analytics provider to use machine learning algorithms to conduct sentiment analysis, raising accuracy levels to 90% where the industry norm is closer to 70% for automated sentiment monitoring. AI is also used to categorize posts and articles based on genre (for example a politics focused article vs a business focused article) so clients can quickly understand the sectors and communities discussing a certain topic or brand.
Usability is another key point. Where most enterprise social listening solutions require a fair amount of time to set up, at Talkwalker we have always been focused on usability. Topic creation is straightforward, the visualizations are easy to understand and almost all elements of the platform are clickable allowing users to easily uncover deeper layers of understanding. Report creation is intuitive and customizable and pre-defined data dashboards help people find information relevant to their specific needs. Our goal is always to create a platform that gets top marks for both power and ease of use.
Finally, Talkwalker offers the widest data coverage on the market covering over 150 million websites including over ten social networks, news sites, blogs, forums, with options to add offline TV, radio and print data as well. Talkwalker has also recently substantially increased coverage in the Asia Pacific region allowing companies to analyze major social networks and websites including Livedoor, Douban, Daum and many more.
Our customers come in all shapes and sizes but I think the one thing they all need is a way to make sense of the immense of amount of data now available to them in a way that is quick, efficient and crucially, makes a tangible impact on their business goals.
How Does Talkwalker use AI?
Social listening contains many challenges that were historically performed by humans. Most media monitoring companies employ coders that manually sift through the day’s results to map sentiment, for example. But data is increasing exponentially on the web, so much so that in many cases basic cognitive tasks cannot be performed on millions of documents and images per day. The goal is to build AI that can perform these tasks as well as humans can.
There are three key AI technologies that are used in the Talkwalker platform: image recognition, sentiment analysis and data classification.
One major challenge for many brands is the vast volumes of images that are being shared online. Independent research indicates that up to 80% of brand logos that appear online do not mention the brands themselves in the adjoining text. What this means is that consumer brands in particular are missing out on a lot of information that could help them improve their understanding of how customers perceive their brand and products.
To help customers monitor this, at the beginning of 2016, we introduced Talkwalker’s Image Recognition, the first deep learning application to recognize 30,000 brands and logos in images shared on social media. Since then, we’ve rapidly increased our AI-based image applications, adding scenery, objects, gender and age detection. We’re seeing clients use this technology for a wide range of purposes from understanding the impact of sponsorship to analyzing Instagram data to create maps of customer tastes and preferences and direct business expansion.
Natural language processing or NLP for short is another thing that we’ve done pretty much since the beginning and where we had a major breakthrough last year. Brands need to be able to perform sentiment analysis with great accuracy across millions of results, and this is an area where deep learning is bringing us to a whole new level.
AI-Powered Sentiment works with an entirely new approach. For the first time, the algorithm understands the meaning of full sentences and is able to accurately determine customer attitudes and contextual reactions in tweets, posts and articles.
Using deep learning models that simulate the cognitive functions of the human brain, the technology can understand complex language patterns and entire sentences, and even deal with basic forms of sarcasm and irony.
Talkwalker is also able to categorize data into a variety of different genres by subject matter again using technology that is able to learn how to classify posts and articles based on previous “experience”.
This means that Talkwalker is able understand whether an article should be classified in the category of politics, business, art or lifestyle through analyzing the text as a whole and matching with previously successful categorizations.
In Your Mind, What is the Future of AI in Business and Marketing?
In our industry, which deals mostly with marketing and PR professionals at present, AI will on the one hand help to significantly reduce repetitive, labor intensive tasks that would fit broadly into the “data collection” area. Tasks like categorizing posts, judging sentiment at scale, analyzing image and video and sifting through irrelevant content will be done in minutes rather than the days it takes at present.
AI in social listening will also help marketers uncover less obvious market trends and customer segments as the amount of data it can process at high speed will reveal insights that were previously hidden. The ability to automatically and intelligently categorize large volumes of data will also help to really pinpoint the issues that matter and have the potential to positively or negatively impact your business. Ultimately, it will give people working in marketing more time to focus on strategy and creativity and more insights with which to make their efforts more effective.
Do You Think Marketers Will be Replaced by AI Robots?
I don’t think AI will necessarily take jobs away from marketers but it may require marketers to change their skillsets. For example, for most marketers, there is an element of their jobs that will be quite repetitive. It may be exporting data, sifting through and categorizing customer comments or writing standardized or templated copy.
There aren’t too many marketers that focus solely on such tasks but if this makes up a large part of your job, you will need to start focusing on more strategic and/or creative elements of your jobs as this will be the part that cannot be replaced.
At present, AI still needs the human touch for it to be effective so it would also make sense for marketers to start learning how to use tools that help you harness the power of AI. There will be increasingly high demand for marketers who can use these tools proficiently and give their companies a competitive edge.
I think the final point to make here is that AI has the potential to allow marketers to do things that would not be possible for most companies. Increasingly sophisticated chatbots are one potential example where it would not be reasonable for many companies to hire people to perform this function.
In this case, AI allows marketers to do things that weren’t previously possible and again puts the focus on marketers learning to work with the technology instead of being replaced by it.
In this interview, Christophe Folshette provided fascinating insights into how artificial intelligence can be used for social media listening and analytics. It is interesting to see how machine-learning can enable advanced sentiment analysis and image intelligence from social media data. I think it is safe to safe AI is transforming digital marketing!
I am an author, speaker and consultant in marketing automation and artificial intelligence.
Do you need help with marketing automation or AI-based solutions? Contact me and let’s discuss how I can help you!