A new player emerged in the social media monitoring and measurement circles Wednesday as Scout Labs officially launched after almost two years of development and testing. The self-serve, web-based tool is priced for small to mid-sized business and brands, includes natural language processing techniques for sentiment and tone scoring and has its foundation in product development.
“I come from both a marketing and product background,” Jennifer Zeszut, Scout Labs CEO told me in a phone conversation Wednesday night. “My fundamental vision for this product is that I want to help companies build and sell better products.”
The primary selling point, according to Zeszut, is that brand managers, chief marketing officers and the like need more qualitative data than the quantitative focus most monitoring and measurement tools provide. They want to know what people like and dislike about the product, not so much how many conversations are taking place or how their sentiment compares to competition. Scout Labs is built on providing specific, qualitative insights companies can use.
“We give people insights that help them run their business,” she added.
But it still gives users all the quantitative tools as well.
The interesting thing about Scout Labs to me, besides an exceptionally affordable price point (one company can use the service for as little as $99 per month) is that the last two years haven’t just been development for the product. They have 300 companies they’ve hand-picked to use the tool, provide feedback and insights and improve the software.
“We actually had about 2,000 people on a waiting list,” Zeszut said. “(Michael) Arrington saw our prototype and did one post (on TechCrunch) and we had a waiting list. We were able to cherry-pick a variety of categories and industries for our test group to get a good cross section and make sure the tool worked across all varieties of business.”
See the December 2007 TechCrunch post here.
Because of Scout Labs’ product approach, as opposed to most other monitoring and measurement tools which are aimed at public relations-type measurement, and the fact that all pricing plans include unlimited users, the tool can actually foster cross-company collaboration and multiple points of use.
“P.R. people are actually in the minority of the users we have, though the tool is certainly very useful for them,” Zeszut explained. “Our users range from customer insight teams to customer researchers, brand managers, CEOs, strategic leads and product teams.”
Essentially, Scout Labs recognized the insights gained from a monitoring and measurement tool are useful in several different divisions of an organization and positions their product with unlimited users so companies and brands can use it in several ways.
Your public relations team can gather its sentiment, tone and quantity of posts information, your product development team can gather “I wish this product did this,” insights, your brand manager can glean both quantitative and qualitative response to advertising campaigns for promotions and your CEO can see snippets of all the data he or she finds useful in talking up the company to investors or shareholders.
The big selling point for self-serve tools like Scout Labs, Radian6 and some others is that they don’t try to jam costly analysis down your throat. Zeszut says they want to help their clients learn how to listen through social media, not do the listening for them.
“Our clients are amazingly savvy,” she said. “The folks at NetFlix, at Mattel, they are very smart people. Those teams just need a tool to help them listen. We supply that.
“We’re actually trying to change how marketing teams and agencies work,” she added. “Most of them are still outsourcing listening. That’s fine if you need help, but listening only truly works well if you’re actively doing it as a company and using the learnings to improve your product.”
I, for one, am anxious to test Scout Labs out. It appears to be priced right, powerful and useful for a variety of different departments within an organization. For those interested, each “workspace” (or client) in the new service is free for 30 days. Give it a try and see what you think. If you do, please come back and let us know what you think in the comments.
How does it compare to the monitoring or measurement service you currently use? Is it powerful and fast enough for your liking? Do you think the multiple users makes selling the tool through easier?