The top 10 Pulsar innovations of 2014 #smartdata


2014 has been a big year for Pulsar. We won an award for our data visualisations, co-founded the Visual Social Media Lab, ended up in a couple of books and got featured in a data visualisation exhibition.

We  have been joined by many forward-thinking brands and creative agencies with our client base growing by 150%, we’ve passed the 1500 user mark on our platform, and we’ve quadrupled the amount of data we are processing and delivering on a daily basis.

To do all this, the Pulsar platform had to go through a significant and fast-paced evolution over the past 12 months. Our Product and Engineering teams ship new functionality on a bi-weekly basis (or faster) to stay on top of the ever-changing social media ecosystem, the needs of the social marketing industry, the feedback we get from our awesome customers and finally the real-time usage analytics we collect from the platform itself.

So we do have a pretty fluid and data-driven roadmap. Nonetheless, our vision stays consistent through the releases: to deliver smart data for stronger insights and better decisions.

Here’s a few examples of how we made social data smarter in 2014:

1) Social Panels
For decades, customer panels have been a great tool in market research. We thought it would be a good idea to bring them to the social media research arena too. By using robust data science to select samples of social media users by demographics, affinities and behaviours, Pulsar allows you to listen to a custom audience and gather real-time insights from that segment.

Our users are currently running social panels such us “US Mums”, “UK Dads”, “UK Tech Startup Leaders”, “US Tech Journalists”, and “Supermarket Loyalty Scheme members”. Create your custom panel on Pulsar and start listening to your target audience today. Read more…

2) A New Visibility Algorithm
The Visibility algorithm has been another key differentiator for Pulsar since the very beginning of the platform. The algorithm measures how impactful every single piece of content is by looking at the type of content, the channel it’s published on, the audience of the author publishing it and the level of engagement the content is generating. All these dimensions together generate a score which is attached to each social media post and when combined provide the user with an alternative view of the dataset.

Rather than just looking at when volumes spiked in a month, Visibility tells you when the conversations were more impactful. With Visibility you can find out which topics are driving engagement, or which content has more stickiness. Rather then just telling you which authors have been shouting the most, Visibility tells you which authors have made the strongest impact on your audience. Interested? Read more…

3) Media Dashboard
Between 30% and 40% of social media posts contain links to another webpage, and shared content is the driving force behind social media engagement. Yet most social media listening tools only analyse the textual content of the post.

We thought it would make a lot of sense to change that. Pulsar expands and analyses all the URLs mentioned in your dataset, regardless of the link-shortener used by the author, and shows the most shared URLs and the most shared domains in the Media Dashboard using a Treemap visualisation.

So if you’re a concert promoter and you’re wondering where the advertise for the next tour, you might find it useful to see which content and websites the audience of your artist is sharing the most.

media dash

4) GPS Location Maps
Global is pure abstraction unless you can see the local detail too. That’s why social data is so powerful: it can show you the big picture global view on a subject but you can also drill down to identify the nuances of particular audiences at particular locations.

Most social media monitoring  tools show you a breakdown by country and cities, but as marketing gets more and more personal and local, being able to understand how the energy flows at street level has become essential to run effective marketing programmes. That’s why the new Pulsar maps including GPS location coordinates alongside Country and City views give you a better understanding of your performance and enable decision-making on any scale from global, to regional, to local. Read more…

5) The Social Marketing API
Integration is a key pillar of the Pulsar product strategy. We want you to be able to use our data as an integral part of your marketing and customer relations ecosystem.

That’s why in 2014 we developed our API to have 5 new methods for you to integrate Pulsar analytics in third party apps, ingest brand community data for analysis alongside your social channels, or adding context to your social data by comparing it against third party benchmarks. Read more…

6) Plug and Play Network Analysis
Twitter and Facebook are called social networks, not social spreadsheets. That’s why analysing it as a network makes most sense – oh, and it also helps delivering strikingly beautiful visualisations like the ones we designed for Twitter!

And yet most social media monitoring tools structure social data as a series of rows in a table, loosing all the richness that lies behind the network structure. True, manipulating data as a network is hard work, so most users don’t have the data science skills to do it properly. But that’s why we’ve designed a feature that does it for you. From Pulsar you can export a network graph version of any dataset in its entirety or as a statistically solid sample of the whole, download it on your machine and read it with Gephi, the most popular software tool for network analysis and visualisation. Then make visualisations like the one below, no data scientist needed. Read more…

detecting communities 2

7) Data Management Tools
As a Pulsar client you have a data allowance and you spend it as you wish. In order to give you maximum transparency on how you’re using your data allowance, we have created a number of tools to help you keep track of:

  • the amount of data you collect in real-time or historically
  • the number of active trackers you’re running on the platform
  • the complexity of your real-time and historic queries
  • your data usage limits, to help you avoid any surprise overages

This way you can optimise your spend, keep it under control and get the results you need.

8) Sina Weibo Integration
China was a big focus for us last year, with global FMCG clients using Pulsar to understand how to break through in the Asian markets. We met the Sina Weibo team at the Big Boulder Initiative conference last June in Colorado and started a great collaboration that’s going to last for a very long time. We’ve started by integrating their platform into Pulsar, collecting 100% of the data from 167 million monthly active users – and allowing Pulsar users to manage their content on Sina Weibo from within Pulsar too.

9) The Most Granular Filters
As the Pirelli adverts used to say, “Power is nothing without control”. The ad was selling tyres, but the same is true for data. There’s no point is being able to collect a huge dataset if you can’t manipulate it to extract the insights you’re looking for. That’s why on Pulsar we have engineered the most granular filters to allow you to slice and dice the data by 25 different parameters, including affinities, gender, influence, language, city or any custom taxonomy you have designed to analyse and categorise the data.

10) Reach measurement
In social media everyone is talking, but who’s listening? Reach is a key metric to understand how far the conversations you’re listening to are travelling. On Pulsar we have introduced two measures of reach on each channel to meet every need:

  • Potential Estimated Reach (PER) – the maximum potential audience of a post based on the audience of the author and the users who have shared & retweeted the post
  • Actual Estimated Reach (AER) – a channel-specific proportion of the potential audience, based on the percentage of users who will actually see the published content on their timelines

Read more about Reach… 

So that (and a lot more that didn’t make the top 10) was Pulsar in 2014.

If you don’t have time to read all of the above and want a 60 second wrap-up of 365 days of building Pulsar, watch the video below:

2014 has been a big year for Pulsar but we’ve merely laid out the foundations for what’s coming in 2015 (still no hover-boards, sorry). The journey to disrupt social media monitoring and research continues and we couldn’t be more excited.

If you would like to discover what Pulsar can do for you in 2015 then please send an email to [email protected]

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