SMToolbox: Real Time Insights and Media Analytics From Zignal Labs



Zignal Labs is four and a half years old and started by analyzing political trends before moving into marketing. The team has grown to over 80 staff, and they have expanded from San Francisco, to Washington DC and increasingly operate globally.

One of the major aims of the tool is to make monitoring easy to set-up and manage. Enterprise monitoring can can complex quite quickly and the focus is on simple to use dashboards and filters. The tool is constantly being updated with new releases almost weekly.

Where Does Zignal Labs Excel?

There are a number of social media and news analytics tools for enterprises. Some of my favorites include BrandWatch and Synthesio. Thus I was keen to look at where Zignal Labs excels. There are a number of areas where I think Zignal Labs excels:

  • Ease of use
  • Team sharing and team dashboards
  • Sources including broadcast and Lexis Nexis
  • Trending story analysis
  • Alerts and filters
  • Influencers
  • Language translations
  • Geo analysis and languages

Ease of Use

The focus on making the tool easy to use is clear from the interface design. You start with a well designed dashboard as shown below. You can drag and drop the widgets around the screen.

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There is no limit to the number of dashboards you can set up. You can also set up team and individual dashboards to meet individual preferences and needs.

In the News Room you can dig into the stories as shown below. There is an extensive range of filters as you can see on the left hand side to allow you to focus in on specific channels or stories.

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Team Sharing

The tool is designed to help you work with your team. For example, the ability to save a story, add your comments and share with your colleagues, including a nicely formatted email to your team.

As a general point I think tools can improve the support they offer to team working and it is good to see these features in Zignal Labs.

Sources including Broadcast TV and Lexis Nexis

Zignal Labs get Twitter data from Gnip as do tools such as Brandwatch and they have location data down to city. The tool doesn’t currently provide Facebook data which is a bit of a gap as Facebook is the dominant social network currently, however, the team are in discussions with Datasift for Facebook data which they hope to add to the tool shortly. The team also crawl 20m top blogs for data from the blogosphere.

One of the nice features of Zignal Labs is the inclusion of sources such as Broadcast TV and 30,000 Lexis Nexis sources.

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It also allows you to view the Broadcast and to clip a relevant section that you can share with your team or manager.

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The Zignal Labs team also focus on the need to understand real time data. Financial services companies were early adopters as they needed to understand trends in real time. This real time focus is a big differentiator in the media monitoring space.

Trending Story Analysis

On trending stories they show list of stories but I really like the tabbed version of trending stories. The top tabs (see image below) allow me to see the influencers who are making it trend, the topics/issues in the trending story, the top tweets, a word cloud and analytics for the story such as say the gender breakdown of sharers.

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Linked to trending is the ability to show the sequence of shares using a Spidey chart. This allows you to see who first shared an article, who retweeted it next etc. The closest I have seen to this feature is the early Ripples tool on Google Plus.

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Alerts and filters

The alerts process is sophisticated and simple to use. There are a wide range of  filters (see the right hand column of the image below) such as topics/issues, source (e.g. blogs, twitter etc.), country, language, sentiment etc. Thus you can really focus in on the alerts you want such as say negative sentiment about a topic from blogs in the U.S.

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Influencers are critical these days. They have the power to promote your brand or to damage it. Hence, you need to identify them and monitor their activity as it relates to you. The tool will identify influencers in a number of ways such as:

  • most active social authors
  • most active sites
  • most influential authors
  • most shared sites

These are shown below.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 13.28.02.pngThe tool also has an influential filter on story search e.g. search for most shared stories on a topic  which are written by a predefined influencer list or shared by a predefined influencer list.


The tool has NLP technology that assesses sentiment and you can pull up various dashboards such as the one below.

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There is clearly a degree of subjectivity in judging sentiment and hence I like the fact the tool allows you to change the sentiment manually as shown below.


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Geo Analysis and Languages

The tool will allow you to focus in on specific countries and cities. However, the feature I really like is the ability to translate content such as in a Tweet on the fly into 147 different languages. previously I have found myself looking at a tweet in French or another language about my brand and trying to work out what it says or using Google translate. With Zignal Labs it translates the content on the fly within the tool.

Competitive Dashboard

The tools competitive dashboard is strong with nice, simple summaries for each competitor such as share of voice and sentiment.

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Search Capability

The tool provides full Boolean search capability as you would expect. However, if you have ever built sophisticated queries you will know this can get complex quite quickly. Zignal Labs have an easy to use search builder tool as shown below.


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If you are looking for an enterprise grade analytics tool that provides real time analytics and promotes effective team sharing then it is worth taking a look at Zignal Labs.

Pricing for the Zignal Enterprise platform starts at around $ 18,000 a year. Depending on data needs and features required, the Zignal Labs platform may suit both the dynamic enterprise brand and the regional public relations budget. To request a demo of Zignal Enterprise and learn more, visit Zignal Labs.

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