Netbase Social Intelligence Review & Web Journal 6/16-6/22/2013

Was thinking of writing a series of reviews on platforms I’ve used often and I did one on Brandwatch last week, and today I want to write a post about Netbase.  Actually, I did write about Netbase last year, but not since then.


I’ve had the use of Netbase for over a year, planning and teaching the UC Irvine course on Social Media Measurement last Summer, and then developing some content for Rutgers University (Social Media for the Arts) over the whole period.

Along with my Rutgers course, I’m also authoring and teaching a Web Intelligence Course at Baruch College in the fall, Netbase would be good to have there as well (the Syllabus is being worked on over the next couple of weeks).  Unlike the Rutgers class, this one will be hybrid (one session a week in person, the other session is online).

As readers know, I’ll always opt to express my opinion one way or another – and so, honestly is really something I can’t help but be, if it seems critical.

Anyway, with Netbase, the platform is really good for Brand Managers – that’s the main audience that it was designed for in the first place though it’s use cases have been extended quite a bit since then.   It’s the platform that, when it was started, told a Coke Cola manager if the new soda can design is liked or not by audiences in Social Media.  That particular type of “consumer sentiment” would be very hard to do with most of the other platforms I’ve used.  There’s several resources, white papers and case studies to that effect.

There’s also something that Netbase uses called a “Brand Passion Index” – we used it in the UC Irvine Class and it’s interesting, particularly if you’re a Brand Manager.   I did one on some Influence Work I’m doing based on my course at Rutgers University (see below).


The ideas behind the “Passion Index” are, I have found, best described in Slide 30 of this SAP presentation, see below (Netbase and SAP have a partnership).

Funny – that presentation (about 2 years old) is sitting on Google Search but has all kinds of disclaimers on it.  Looking at it now, it doesn’t appear to have anything in it that you can’t find in other places, so whatever was so important in the past with this deck is public knowledge now. 


The latest version of the Netbase Insights Composer uses “mentions” instead of “soundbytes”, i have treated them as synonymous, the spreadsheet I have asks for soundbytes.

Here’s a video that Netbase produced about 18 months ago featuring the BPI – I like it because it make consumer sentiment simple.  It may be just a tad harder to actually do well but I think Netbase will get you these kind of results – that’s what it was built for.



I like the BPI.  Digging a little deeper, several weeks ago, I discovered the axis were calibrated across a database of leading brand sentiment in what is  called Consumerbase in 2010.  As I have seen more and more BPI show up, I often have wondered how much the Consumerbase has been updated and if the liberties taken to make the charts work (at times) also dilutes the accuracy of the results.   I really don’t know the answer to that.

But have thought deeply of how carefully platforms such as Netbase Insights Composer really need to be employed by experienced analysts who understand the business use cases of what they are searching on, to get better results – and even experienced people might need to try out a bunch of ideas before settling on the best approach for a particular project.

That’s not so much a problem as Netbase is one of the pricier platforms out there for Social Intelligence.  Your generally not going to have clients use it who aren’t serious.   Still …

The more I used platforms including Netbase, the more I realize the truth of this statement I just made, above about needing to have an experienced analyst.

It’s not so much the platform, that’s easy enough to use once you figure out the basics  – no, it’s the way your going to enter the queries and what particular combinations will work – I wrote all about that in my Book – your results are plastic – you will get out of any of the Social Tools, more or less, what you put in.  Garbage in – > Garbage out.

You need to be careful you are actually doing the right searches for your project - that’s no trivial task – it may mean knowing just what to put into Netbase and just the way in should be entered.

The problem might be, no one can police that kind of thing.  This is an industry, overall, that is “Social Analytics” where there’s effectively “no governance”.   Regardless of what your think, brands are on their own to use any of the social tools, including this one – they work when you feel there’s something useful they have uncovered.

My Favorite Feature of Netbase

After serious consideration and use of the platform I have to say one of the hidden gems of Netbase is something I’d never have expected to praise – it’s EDITOR.   I have found the Netbase EDITOR perhaps the most powerful of any of the platforms I’ve used, though when I first started working with it – it among the things I didn’t care for.


It’s very easy enough to assemble your query list as a comma separated string and enter your queries in a very simple, eloquent way in no time, flat.  More or less, the same queries I put into Brandwatch Beta last week I entered in Netbase with much less time and effort.

If Brandwatch would copy any one feature of another platform – I’d say – look at what Netbase did with its Query Editor and try to do something along those lines.

Some might think that is a small thing - but if you write a lot of queries, it’s not a small thing – it’s a big deal.   Radian6 is awful here, the entire interface is in Flash, and it takes forever to put in and update your queries, and if a long one, god help you.

But not Netbase – Netbase makes it easy.

Perhaps the only think I have to question here – is the 100 entry limitation.  You can only have up to a 100 of anything - Authors, Include Terms, Exclude Terms, etc.

That’s 100 of each – but what if you need more?

Well …. I’m not sure.   Perhaps there are wildcards or Boolean equations to explore that can make Netbase capture everything you want – but I really can’t tell you for sure if that’s the case.

Maybe the idea is that if you are writing a query that has over 100 primary terms, your probably doing something wrong – you concept of how to employ the platform is wrong and you need some help to fix it.

I don’t know, but I certainly get that impression.

Then again, you need to play around a bit with Netbase so you know these things that I’m talking about – the more I play – the more I learn (both the opportunities and the limitations).

The Focus Wizard

Another feature I really like about Netbase is the “Focus Wizard” – it’s a way of looking at your Word Cloud in a different perspective (see below).



I think there’s a lot of ways the Focus Wizard could be used, and I haven’t even touched on all of them.


There are a couple of default Dashboards and you can create your own as well, or copy and rename an existing Dashboard and customize it.  What I like is that the Dashboards act as receptacles for the various profiles you create, you can add one or more to a Dashboard – and that’s easy to maintain and keep track of.


If you get the other stuff I talked about above, right, then the results you get from Netbase will generally be better (if not as voluminous) as what you’ll typically see from most of the rest of the Social Analytics platforms.




Again, the quality of what you get depends on what you concept is, what you’re trying to do, what you put into Netbase, and what kind of results you’re looking for along with what you plan to do with the data.

Knowing the correct uses (for your business) of the platforms really is an Art.  Feel free to watch the Netbase Demo video to learn a little more about the platform.

I could certainly write a bit more on Netbase – but my point is that know what you need from a platform and what each platform excels in.  In this case, the text analytics are pretty good (though they can’t be tuned, it’s pretty much like an automatic transmission – you can shift gears, but the rest happens in the box, without much control over it that can be exerted).


Web Journal

  • I became aware of the Unruly Media Lab in NYC that just opened last week via Greg Jarboe’s article (he also teaches at Rutgers CMD, as do I).  I’m happy to say I’ll be touring the Unruly Lab in mid July.  In fact, I’d like to build a hybrid course around Viral Marketing, particularly Viral Videos.   No doubt, I’ll find a way to converge all of this with the Baruch Web Intelligence course I’ll teach this fall.  The thing about the Unruly Media Lab is it’s an application of “Big Data”.   My focus would be on adapting and augmenting my Social Media for the Arts course (or whatever it’s renamed to be) with the Viral Video Lab and perhaps also get the go ahead to build a new, cutting edge course around Viral Videos.  I can’t imagine anyone who would not want to take a course like that.
  • Google wants to help certain advertisers to make better videos – I think it’s fair to say that these strategies along with Unruly Media new Lab are tipping the scales to more polished and prepared (paid and seeded videos) going viral rather than organically produced ones that was more the perception (than reality) videos that dominated YouTube for the first 7 years. We’re now seeing an era where preparation and paid for media (seeding) is raising the bar and making it harder for cinematographers and pretty much anyone who wants to throw media online to get noticed.

Taiwanese Coffee Machines Print Photos of Customers Onto Lattes example2

and here’s the video, below that shows the whole thing from A-Z. Anyone up for a “Photo Coffee”?

Takes digestion to a whole different level. Ha!



  •  Museums are really getting their act together – witness the Metropolitan Museum’s announcement of hiring a new Chief Digital Officer.  I suppose a few different views could be expressed here. The Met is my favorite museum, and just about my favorite place in the world to be.   Second, it’s clear to me, at least, that “The Medium is the Message” – if your going to employ digital media you need to fully understand it and even embrace it.   That’s the foundation of my Social Media for the Arts course at Rutgers – to help my students to become “The Smartest People in the Room“.   You can’t know what you don’t know – you can’t use digital media as well or as imaginatively without knowing anything  much about it.  I think this is what the Met has created a position for the CDO.
  • Finally, friend Gary Angel just got back (last week) from X Change Berlin and has a great write-up about it.  Been a while since I was at an X Change conference, I went to the first two, and never have I been to Berlin, but Ir really enjoy reading and catching up with good friend, Gary Angel. I would say, and I’ve said it many times, Gary is the smartest person I know in Analytics – and I think, the one the shows the most real Thought Leadership. I learn a lot from every post I read of his. And I’m not sure if it’s his writing style, philosophical bent (which I very much like) or the fact I know him fairly well, that when I read his posts I can imagine that I’m actually talking with him, including hearing his voice. Hmm… anyway, this is a really good post of the conference that just happened a few weeks ago.
    • Among Gary Angel’s recent posts are a new series on creating the “Customer Intelligence System” or “CIS” – his post is very timely and informs a MDM project for a client I have now.   The funny thing about Gary’s CIS is that there really isn’t a successful case study of a CIS that has been built.   IN other words, if a company now chooses to take this on, they will probably be among the first to have truly tackled it – perhaps the very first.

Well, that’s it for now – I said what I had to say about Netbase Insights Composer – a great platform for specific use cases – but a lot of thought is needed to do the necessary work to prepare and customize your Insights Composer to the specific needs of your project(s), so this platform might be the most useful in certain situations.

And as for the rest, still working on my Rutgers Influence Project – hope to close that and release it soon.

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