Offering insight into social media conversation with location-based monitoring tools
Earl Knight is the CEO and founder of GoBabl. By utilizing geo-fencing technology, GoBabl gathers real-time, location-based, public social media data. The platform helps journalists, members of the media, marketing agencies, event coordinators, political organizers, brand managers, and others to track regional conversations and stories as they happen. Users can monitor a variety of social networks at once, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Flickr, and Google+. Earl spoke to citybizlist about navigating GoBabl’s competitive landscape; what led him to start the company; and how the protests and riots in Ferguson, Missouri, influenced the way the platform works.
EDWIN WARFIELD: What are some of the ways in which people are using GoBabl? How do journalists use it, for instance?
EARL KNIGHT: When we first started, there were the riots happening in Ferguson, Misssouri, and somebody reached out to me and said, “Hey Earl, you give geo-social media data, but we can only see it within a five mile radius of our phone.” That’s what our mobile app did—you couldn’t type in a location and get the data. This was two or three years back. I said, “Okay, hold on. If I can get it from just the GPS on the phone, I’m sure I can just type in the actual address.” A couple of news stations reached out to me—Fox, ABC—and asked, “Hey, can you get all the Instagram posts coming from the riots?” And I said, “Okay. Yeah, I think I can definitely do that.” We built out a website where they could type in a location and literally, you see, in chronological order, all the Instagram posts, all the tweets that were happening in or coming from Ferguson, Missouri. They were able to report on what was going on down there, just based off of that, which was really cool. That was a cool case study for journalism.
After that, one of the girls from the news desk over at Fox actually reached out to me and was like, “Hey, we really love this—I use it all the time,” and now she works with me. It’s cool being able to see the maturation process in one case study, of how you go from people liking [the platform] so much to where they actually want to work with you.
With sports and entertainment: Just recently, we did a pilot with the Sixers. Before that, maybe even months ago, the Dallas Mavericks got onto our platform, and then the LA Dodgers got onto our platform. We were just thinking to ourselves: “Why do people in athletics and entertainment want our platform?” I couldn’t figure it out, and was thinking to myself: “Why?” We called the Mavericks. Their marketing coordinator, Todd, got on the phone with me and they were like, “Well, we just want to know what people are saying at the games.” Then the Dodgers reached out to us about getting into their Accelerator. They were like, “What exactly can you do?” They didn’t give this great insight on why they wanted us; they just said that they really liked it and they wanted to know what else can we do. Just recently, the Sixers were like, “Hey, we really like this. There’s another platform out that are like you—can you build it up to be similar?” We were like, “Sure, why not? You’re the Sixers, so I’m sure we can do whatever you guys like.”
We started building on fan engagement. Basically, they want to hone in on the game and have their sales team use our platform to hone in on everybody who’s tweeting; Instagramming; on Snapchat, Facebook—whatever it might be—and actually reach out to them and resell tickets to them. They also want to know how well something might be happening from a sentiment standpoint. Say, during the game, an entertainer is performing: they want to know, how positively the sentiment is on that performance, or how negative it might be. They want to know what the fans are thinking while they’re at the game, because they want to increase that fan experience, and the best way to do that is by knowing exactly what they’re saying. And social media is a great way to do that.
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ABOUT NEWMARK GRUBB KNIGHT FRANK
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