Topsy Labs Provides In-Depth Look Into Social Sentiment

Retailers and analysts point to the benefits of interacting with shoppers via social networking sites. However, a key obstacle brands face is determining overall social sentiment, or the public’s response to news, announcements and merchandise. Topsy Labs, Inc., enables businesses worldwide to access real-time responses made within social networks and better report and respond to consumer sentiment. 

With indexing technology and live-ranking software, Topsy Labs gathers and organizes content from Twitter and Google+, and applies influence algorithms to the data. While Google Analytics allows retailers to track link performance and web site traffic, Topsy provides more in-depth insight regarding a customer’s view of a brand or item, according to Duncan Greatwood, CEO of Topsy Labs.

“We’ve applied a different method of finding importance in the social web, which is all about identifying influences,” Greatwood said. “People that communicate on the social web are important in terms of forwarding the conversation. These communicators can either be ‘originators’ of ideas or ‘amplifiers,’ who take those ideas and throw them to a large audience.” Greatwood noted that both “originators” and “amplifiers” contribute to expanding brand awareness. As a result, it is vital that retailers track and report the social sentiment and conversations within these two groups.


Retailers tap into the Topsy API to access data centers and search analytics tools, and retrieve information via a keyword search. For example, a retailer can search its brand name, a new product or campaign title. However, to ensure social media success and obtain optimal insight, retailers must search beyond these basic data points.

“Most companies start with their name, however, it’s sort of phase zero of developing a social media strategy as a brand,” Greatwood said. “We aim to enable people to not only track their names but to identify and track all of the things happening around their brands, as well as items that are relative to their names. Then, we help them gain a deeper level of understanding of what all of that chatter really means.”

The Topsy API retrieves and categorizes authored content in real time, ranking positive and negative content based on influence graphs. To do this effectively, retailers must observe sentiment across multiple social networking sites.

“It’s fine to have a Facebook fan page or count ‘Likes’ but really, that’s looking at a tiny, narrow portion of a social strategy,” Greatwood noted. “There are millions of conversations going on related to retailers, their products and their brands. They need to be aware of and participate in that breadth of the social web.”

Retailers also can utilize Topsy strategically to pinpoint sentiment on specific products as well as compare and contrast item preferences. “There is much you can do with micro-level optimization, especially if you’re willing and able to do it in real time,” Greatwood said. “So, if you can tweak what you do every day, you can actually begin to wring out a lot more business from the system versus if you just look at it every month or every three months.”

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