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A new social intelligence tool – with approval from the Pentagon

August 29, 2014

(Published in TTG – 21.07.14)

Social data analysis start-up Fluxifi got the thumbs-up from the US Department of Defence. Founder Chris Lever believes it can work for the travel industry too

Fluxifi founder Chris Lever

Praise rarely comes from higher places; following a two-week trial ofFluxi by the Pentagon, founder Chris Lever was told it had “surpassed expectations”.

But what was the US Department of Defense doing with Fluxi – a new online tool by UK start-up Fluxifi – and how can this sort of technology work for travel companies?

Launched in January this year, Fluxi is a Google-like search engine that plugs into social networks, providing instant results (including mentions, people, locations, pictures and even sentiment) on keywords.

With the crises in the Middle East, the need for up-to-date intelligence has never been greater as social media enters the landscape. Bodies such as the militant jihadist organisation Isis use video websites as a recruitment tool, and terrorists harness social media as propaganda, publishing attacks and IED explosions online.

As a result, the Pentagon combines military intelligence with updates from social networks, so it can be notified within seconds of an explosion or terrorist attack in the Middle East following analysis of live tweets or even Instagram posts.

Fluxifi can also search across 24 languages – and uniquely includes Arabic, a factor that contributed to the Pentagon’s appraisal of the system, Lever says.

Brand awareness

It’s a powerful tool, and Lever says it would prove equally useful for anyone working in marketing or PR to assess how well a particular campaign is going, in real-time, or to see how it performed in the past 30 days.

“It’s for people who don’t have time to pore over lots of websites, as it’s all there in one place,” he adds, with YouTube, Tumblr, blogging platform WordPress and commenting tool Disqus also searched.

Type your company’s name, for example, and you will see who is tweeting about it – with the biggest “influencers” (those who have the most followers) listed at the top. After a campaign has been launched, it’s possible to gauge the public’s reaction, online at least.

Key influencers can be engaged with, or if a campaign appears to be backfiring, steps can be quickly taken to solve problems.

Fluxi screenshots

Source: Fluxifi blog

Marketers can also compare brands, comparing two keywords in a search query, which produces a timeline of mentions. Twitter itself has a search facility, but Lever says this version is limited and Fluxifi is one of few companies to access Twitter’s entire data stream, as it plugs into giant data provider Gnip (itself recently acquired by Twitter).

Lever says Fluxi would also be useful for agents looking to upsell: “An agent could show a customer the results for a particular airline, if they believed it was not offering the best service, to see if there were any service quality issues.”

In the corporate sector, a business traveller might want to analyse the results of a particular restaurant he was thinking of taking clients to, he adds.

While real-time comments can be gained, sentiment is another type of result and displayed as good, neutral or negative, while “tokenisation” is another filter, where the most common words associated with that particular subject are displayed.

Meanwhile, alerts can be set up, and online reports created which, when accessed, bring up the latest live results.

Timely arrival

The launch of Fluxi is also timely, according to Lever. It follows Apple’sacquisition of social media analytics firm Topsy in December 2013. As a result of that acquisition, Apple will likely integrate Topsy’s technology into its own products, Lever believes, leaving a gap in the market for a tool such as Fluxifi to flourish.

The cloud-based tool works on a subscription model, with prices starting from £250 for the starter package. However, it can be trialled for free, with limited credits each month: “In this market, it’s about education,” Lever says. “We want people to explore this.”

It is being trialled with around a dozen companies, in sectors such as the automotive industry, car hire (with the company using it to assess the competition) and the accountancy sector.

While counter-intelligence might not be on the top of everyone’s list, gaining fast and intelligent insight into social networks could still prove a powerful weapon in staying ahead of the field.

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