Brand Karma (www.brand-karma.com) is one of the hottest social media monitoring tools to emerge in the face of too many online networks to keep track of and too much information. Experiencing exponential growth in the past 18 months, Brand Karma works by sifting through and analyzing the thousands of online reviews and posts. I approached Jamie Pagel, the Senior Vice President, to find out more about what makes Brand Karma tick.
Tell me a little bit about the genesis of Brand Karma. How did you get started with this program conceptually?
The three co-founders (Morris Sim, CEO, Mario Jobbe, COO and George Mitchell, CTO) were doing social media analysis at Microsoft and were tasked with connecting an online mention of them with brand favorability and ultimately revenue. Soon after, they left Microsoft, launched a search product that tapped into the collective wisdom of the web through natural language processing of hotel reviews. Eventually, they found that the brands urgently needed the information to adapt to the world of social networks. They then decided to focus the business on helping hotels optimize their brands for social media.
What functions does Brand Karma incorporate?
- Hotel Review Sources: The most influential online travel agency and review sites
- Social Media Monitoring: Thousands of travel-related newsletters and influential blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr
- Semantic Analysis: English, French, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Japanese and Spanish, with German and Portuguese currently in beta
- Global Reach: 500,000+ hotel rooms under contract
- Reputation Management: Real-time monitoring of all social media from review sites, OTAs, Twitter and Facebook, pulled to a convenient ‘inbox’ for quick review with translations and workflow processes
Brand Karma Analytics is built for hoteliers at both the local property and at the corporate office. Our sentiment analysis technology has processed over a hundred million hotel reviews to measure and comprehend social media pertaining to hotel brands with remarkable accuracy.
Comparing a hotel or brand to its competitors is one of the most powerful applications of social media analytics. Brand Karma provides best-in-class competitive benchmarking through scorecards, trended reports, and exported PDFs for executives and owners. Users can update their comp set at any time using our intuitive user interface to compare their property or brand with hundreds of thousands of hotels.
How can a hotel benefit from Brand Karma? Is there a minimum size or critical mass?
While we are set up to handle luxury brands and resorts, we provide analytics for any content written about a hotel or brand. Quite often our clients focus on the number of reviews that have been posted about their hotel in social media. And while it is indeed true that the more content you have, the richer analysis our tool can provide, it’s not so much about how many reviews you have as it’s about how many potential guests search online for hotels in your market. Even if you’ve only had one review written about your hotel on TripAdvisor, people who search for hotels in your market will see that one review and form an opinion about your hotel. That one review ends up becoming a major factor in purchasing decisions. So it’s critical that you’re aware of any amount of content, large or small, that is available about your hotel or brand.
How does Brand Karma compare with other programs that monitor social media?
Monitoring is only the first step in using social media to drive revenue to your brand or hotel. A good platform has the ability to synthesize all the information obtained through the monitoring process, analyze it and deliver actionable information to the various stakeholders at the hotel and above-property.
Brand Karma is the only tool to accurately simulate the research process a consumer goes through before making a travel purchase decision. Brand Karma contextualizes social media postings in multiple ways: By Topic, Trended Over Time, By Demographic, Against Brand and Local Competitors.
Brand Karma’s biggest differentiator, apart from its technological developments, is the consulting and service-oriented side of the business. We’re holistic. The other monitoring companies don’t synergize all aspects of online exposure and help brands through all stages of the journey. We work to connect the dots directly back to revenue.
How does Brand Karma keep up with the latest social media developments, such as, for example, Pinterest?
We are constantly evaluating new places in social media where consumers talk about hotels and brands. However, we are relatively pragmatic in our process for adding new channels. It’s easy to claim you track thousands of social media sites by using simple web APIs, but that doesn’t matter if consumers never see your brand on those sites. A great social media analytics tool focuses your attention on the sites that are having an impact on your customers’ perception and purchasing decisions. We’re proud to be a partner of influential sites like TripAdvisor to provide deeper insights from the places your customers live and play online.
What do you see as the future for Brand Karma and social media monitoring?
Streamlining our product offering to even more closely match the way our clients want to use the information. It’s an ongoing battle. We’ve learned which parts of our offering bring the highest value to different types of clients and we’re looking to make it easier and more cost effective for users to get the information they need to do their job more effectively.
(Article published in eHotelier on June 14, 2012)