Make way for another company that’s helping enterprises make sense of social media. LeadSift, a Canada-based social media startup that helps businesses mine social data on sites like Twitter and Foursquare for sales lead generation, has raised a seed round of $500,000 from Omers Ventures, the fund that invests in other Canada-based social media startups like Hootsuite. The company says that it will use the funds to continue developing its product — still in beta with a small group of customers — marketing and staffing.
Social media presents a treasure trove to companies looking for data on how their products are used, wanted, hated and loved. The challenge sometimes is in mining for that treasure.
One recent example comes from just over Thanksgiving weekend. Social media put in a poor performance in IBM’s Benchmark survey on ecommerce and purchasing influence, with Twitter specifically influencing 0% of buying decisions. (At least Facebook attracted 0.68%, according to IBM’s numbers.)
Part of that is an issue of measurement: it’s hard — maybe impossible — to chart downstream conversion on Twitter today. The data are there, but hard to quantify.
“There’s a vast amount of valuable data available on social media, but until now businesses haven’t had an effective way to translate this information into actual sales leads,” said Tapajyoti Das, LeadSift President and CEO, in a statement. LeadSift offers a tool for real-time data analysis that answers that challenge.
Perhaps because Twitter has done little to develop its own services to mine its data for sales and marketing analytics, that presents an opportunity for others to do it. LeadSift says that it’s focusing first on Twitter, as well as Foursquare, as its first two platforms to target. Other social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn will be added to the mix over time, and the service will also include comments, forums, blog posts and other places where people interact on sites that are not primarily used for social media. It also interconnects with SalesForce’s marketing cloud.
The idea goes like this. If you, say, want to buy a MacBookPro, and you post about it on Twitter, LeadSift is able to find you, pass on your details to a relevant business to sell it to you — potentially using extra quantifiers like location as part of its lead generation — and then LeadSift helps make the connection.
While that might work on sites like Twitter, where you can be publicly messaged by anyone you haven’t totally blocked, it might be less easy, and more intrusive for that kind of feedback to follow you from comments, or Facebook posts or other social media touchpoints.
Das tells TechCrunch that this is another reason why the company has chosen to focus on Twitter and Foursquare first. “Our algorithms can understand any form of short text (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, comments etc.) and generate leads from them,” he says. “The reason we are focusing primarily on Twitter now is because of the public nature of the platform. The majority of the profiles/posts on Twitter are public; hence mining them and following up with them is much easier, but such is not the case with Facebook and the like.”
Still, the development of algorithms that help organize the noise can be a valuable tool and complements the kind of work that companies like HootSuite have done to help businesses monitor social media for marketing purposes, or Buddy Media have done to help businesses advertise in it effectively.