When it comes to social media, a new Silicon Valley start-up called Swipp is betting that companies and private individuals have yet to find an efficient way to uncover the relevant insights that lie in the rapidly growing mound of social data. The company, which emerged out of stealth mode today, is tackling this challenge with what it calls the world's first social intelligence platform.
"We're trying to unlock the wisdom of the world and make it purposeful," explains Don Thorson, CEO and cofounder of Swipp, who adds that the company's goal is to "take all the ideas, thoughts, and comments that are currently being lost and bring them together in meaningful new ways that can be used by people, businesses, and developers alike."
The platform consists of consumer-facing applications and a pro version for businesses. The consumer component includes iPhone, Web, and mobile Web apps that let people comment on a range of topics and view other people's opinions and sentiments about that topic on a dashboard. The information can be filtered by friends, location, age, and gender. Users can also find out through historical data how the sentiment around a topic has changed over time. Swipp is starting with 10 million topics, a number that will continue to grow, according to Thorson.
Swipp Plus is a widget that businesses can embed in a Web site to host topical conversations. The Huffington Post, for example, can use the widget to post a question to its readers and poll the responses directly on a Web page. In addition, the company has launched a developer API that makes it possible to integrate Swipp social intelligence into existing or new third-party applications.
The product is currently available in 45 countries in five languages—English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese—with more to come. The consumer apps are free for users, and the company is hoping to sell premium data dashboards built around competitive trending data and more detailed analytics.
Later this year, Swipp will roll out a social search capability. In terms of taking on Facebook's newly launched social search engine, Thorson notes that given the amount of user data it has, the behemoth social network has a "cool product" on its hands but data purity and data structure could be potential weaknesses.
"Facebook is using 'like' data, which is only one point of data…but most importantly, they're going to have some issues around data structure," Thorson predicts. "We've gone to great lengths to create our data structure, which is topic based. It's incredibly granular versus a social database that is trying to build a search engine."
The company also plans to launch event- and brand-based vertical versions of the platform, starting with an app for this year's Super Bowl. The Swipper Bowl app will let users "swipp" topics related to teams, players, brands, and commercials and see what other users are saying about them.