Social Analytics Is The New Data Analytics

by Saumya Soman    May 27, 2016

Amarpreet Kalkat Cofounder and CEO of Frrole Frrole is a global social intelligence company based at Pal Alto California, USA and Bangalore India. Founded in Jan 2014, Frrole has grown leaps and bounds to be one of the world’s most successful social intelligence companies with a clientele ranging from Fortune 500 companies to top global media and advertising agencies (Unilever, Disney, Microsoft, Samsung, Mindshare, Grey Worldwide, Zoom TV, Times Now, Group M, UV Group, Flipkart, Atlantic, and TDP to name a few. Amarpreet Kalkat, Co-founder and CEO of Frrole, in a candid interaction shares his insights on social intelligence. 

Consumers are aware of data analytics, and how it affects the market. Social analytics is relatively a new concept. What is social analytics and social intelligence all about (in a nutshell)?

Social media analytics is the practice of gathering data from social media channels and analyzing that data to make critical business decisions. The most common use of social media analytics is to mine customer sentiments, interests and conversations in order to support marketing and business operations. 

Although relatively an unexplored territory mostly by the marketers, Social intelligence is gradually emerging as a key facilitator of change in the world of business. It is compelling Marketers to trade gut-feelings with accurate data driven insights to device smarter strategies, and achieve effective proactive decision making. It’s about Marketers willingness to engage with social conversations and not merely assemble social data. This wealth of information from social data has much to offer to an array of segments including consumer technology brands, digital marketing and media agencies, and media companies.

A brand’s customers are speaking about their likes, dislikes, about that brand, about its competition, and lot of other interesting things on social. Why would that brand still completely rely on age-old market research tactics, and not embrace these organic, unbiased, multi-segmented, real-time insights about their industry, competition and brand? 

Similarly, for a media house, social intelligence can help gain significant insights about what content and topics works or do not work with its audiences, hence enabling it to integrate the most interesting user generated content into its programming and editorials. For instance, a leading digital media agency has worked with Frrole to set up a command centre that allows enhanced understanding of consumers’ demographics, socio-digital activities, interests, personality analysis for its clients

Frrole was established in the year 2014 as a social intelligence start up. Enlighten us about the journey of Frrole being developed and conceived as a viable product that today has a clientele ranging from Fortune 500 companies to top global media and advertising agencies.

Frrole had started as a social newspaper that was built on Twitter. It analyzed Twitter data city by city, filtering out the noise and pulling out the most useful and popular tweets. These tweets are then algorithmically analyzed and categorized under different sections like events, sports, deals etc. The year was 2013 and the company was off to a good start which was completely B2C at that point in time. By the end of 2012, we had grown to include more than 5 countries and over 50 cities to sieve through the tweets. The product was showing decent traffic but we were yet to see that quantum leap. Frrole then got selected for the Microsoft Accelerator. 

Founded in Jan 2014 as a social data-as-a-service startup with an ability to mine deep insights from social data, the company has since raised an angel round of $245k led by angel investors. Frrole spent 4 months at Microsoft Ventures Accelerator as part of its 3rd batch in Bangalore, India, at the end of which it raised its seed round from a group of angel investors. Frrole was also among the “16 coolest startups in India” in 2014, an annual ranking published by Business Today. Frrole signed partnership with Twitter for elevated data access in April 2014, gaining access to larger amount of data than is freely available. In August 2015, it signed a media solutions partnership with Facebook. Facebook lists out all its Media Solutions Partners and proudly Frrole, is the second Asian company among the 36 marketing-related companies from across the globe.

The social intelligence engine that powers Frrole now has the aptitude to analyze hundreds of millions of data pieces in real-time. Frrole performs extensive analysis across semantic, metadata and statistical dimensions to deliver accurate insights to its customers. 

What are the challenges in analyzing the mind boggling volume of data and providing your clients with comprehensive real-time data? 

There are 4 large data sets in this world - Traditional Web Data, a data set that Google has mastered. Captive Data, a data set that BI tools help organizations explore. Social Web Data, a data set that is perhaps the best data set to understand consumers at scale and a more emergent data set coming from sensors and mobile devices, which is relatively new. At Frrole, we have always hoped to become the Google of the social web - the master of the 3rd data set.

However, it is practically impossible to execute to a ‘meta’ thought like that, so a while ago, we zeroed down on a vertical that we thought was the most optimal when seen as a multiple of Probability of selling - Attractiveness of opportunity. Especially given that we had meagre resources, we decided that selling to marketers would be the best bet as marketers had bought social analytics for a while and had developed enough confidence in its value. It was a crowded space, but with significant over-promising and under-delivery, and we believed that we could differentiate enough to create an attractive opportunity for ourselves. Truth be told, if we did have enough resources, we would have perhaps liked to go directly for an opportunity that was much harder (and much more lucrative) - maybe in Finance, Stock Markets, Public Sector or Web Personalization. It would have been a much riskier bet as it would have required creating a new segment from scratch, but would have been very lucrative were we to succeed. We decided to keep all of those for later, post the initial base-building, when we would have enough resources to go after some or many of those, one by one.

In India, the mobile internet user base is estimated to cross the 300 million mark in 2017 and with over124 million Indians active on social media, how large an impact does the Indian market have on the global social analytics perspective?

From a Marketing intelligence perspective, it is a whopping market of approx 1.5 to 2bn dollars, seeing a 30 to 40 per cent growth globally. Interestingly social data is being applied in varied variety of scenarios from government critical strategies, to disease and climate control. The attention given to social data is increasing by the data. We see similar trends in Indian market. Frrole recently did work for TDP in India and working on extremely interesting projects with its clients. The advance wave of social intelligence can even do mood measurements, personality traits measurements; even identify junk robotics with actual human beings on social data to hyper local analysis using next generation algorithmic intelligence.

Frrole’s signature product includes ‘People Intelligence’. What are the determinants and parameters of analyzing people intelligence?

“Social listening tools tell you what is happening on social media about your brand or product, whereas Frrole is about using the happenings on social media to tell you what is happening truly inside your business. Frrole helps its customers to know their customers better and make decisions based on strong social insights and real time data points.”

People intelligence by Frrole proves in-depth analysis of influencers and consumer multi-level segments including their personality, demographics, interests and real-time needs. Frrole is a pioneer in understanding the users behind social conversations. It analyses demographics, psychometrics, brand preferences, purchase behavior and content affinity of people based on what they post on social media. Using derived insights of this analysis, it helps you measure real-time shifts in your audience characteristics, analyze past buying behavior and predict future patterns.

Frrole’s Topic Intelligence is considered as the advanced social analytical tool. How crucial is topic intelligence to understanding market trends and preferences?

Keywords based social media monitoring is a thing of the past. The data abundance in today’s world demands a deeper contextual understanding of conversations about your brand and category, indicative inferences of and how are these changing over time. Frrole’s topic intelligence is the most advanced social analytics tool that helps you understand these changes, combine them with your enterprise data and draw very specific, real-time and actionable insights. Frrole provides deep real-time contextual insights about any topic (brands, products, #tags etc.). It leverages standard and custom-built algorithms around ML, NLP, NER and clustering to do this analysis. While most Social Analytics/Intelligence products provide results based on statistics and the first level of NLP, Frrole goes two levels deeper building semantic context for each topic and tying it up with information available in the general and historical data sets.

Frrole has helped a global media house improve audience participation, prompting viewers to send votes or opinions via Facebook and Twitter, and provided the analysis of all conversations on its TV shows in real-time.

Kindly explain to us how ‘Frrole Scout’ works and its relevance to your consumers?

Scout is full-fledged web based social analytics dashboard that displays in-depth analysis of topics, audiences, influencers and consumers. Scout lets you see who, what and how much of everything related to your brand, competition and industry. Using a simple web-based tool, it allows tracking, monitoring and analysis of your customers in almost magical ways.

Key features include Real-time analysis and monitoring of brands, followers and topics, Customizable widgets displaying real-time interactive social content and visualizations, Ability for you to identify and engage potential customers, Sentiment accuracy and location precision, Advanced demographics and personality analysis.

The transparency is the company structure and functioning is incredible. What is the work culture in Frrole like?

Frrole is about working hard and partying harder. It has unique Friday bash where the entire team gets together to party, play or even take a weekend break together to an outback farm! Everyone knows everyone salary, KRA’s and goals. Everyone gets an opportunity to rate each other including rating the CEO and the top management monthly. Each person is absolutely same and valuable as a professional.

What are the expansion plans for Frrole in India as well as the US?

Frrole has huge expansion plans considering its annual run rate of USD 2 million by end of 2016. Frrole is also looking at signing up the top brands and even government departments in 2016 across the globe.