Airwoot: Taming the social media beast

Social media. It’s a behemoth. There’s the technical definition of what exactly social media is, and there are plenty of binary-fluent experts out there that can provide the specific definition. Social scientists and political scientists have their own definition. The business sector has its own way to define it… and so on and so forth.

More importantly than the specific definition of what social media is, or even what it was originally intended to do, we have the question of it’s potential. Every day, visionary thinkers in a multitude of fields and disciplines are discovering new ways to harness the raging current that is social media and use it to improve their lot in life. Just like astronomists constantly discovering a new celestial something-or-other, businesses and institutions are learning new ways to make social media work for them. It’s remarkable because who knows where can this go? Futurists are scratching their heads…

Tapping into social media and doing it well is no easy task. Let’s face it, there is a lot of noise out there, ranging from angry political junkies and the types of people who crave their own little microphone to just… complain. About laundry detergent or the neighbor’s cat that keeps doing its business in their flowerbox. The sheer volume of it is just overwhelming.

However, it’s necessary.

Consumers have taken to social media to address just about everything they’re consuming at the moment. Troubleshooting problems? Facebook post. A quick praise or complaint? Twitter. A life hack demonstration with a product? Pinterest. And so on.

It’s to the point that a company’s online help desk is rapidly diminishing in relevancy. I remember there was a time when… forget it. I don’t remember a time I used my smartphone to actually call a business. Any business. So businesses, in a perpetual struggle to stay relevant and in touch with their market, have to develop a way to engage their customers on social media – that huge sphere of noise, distraction, kittens and crazy people with their remarkable feats of… whatever. How does a company penetrate that and deliver a message? Or, more importantly, how do they engage a customer who takes the time to register a complaint or praise about a product?

Saurabh Arora and Prabhat Saraswat are the heroes in a remarkable story of entrepreneurship. These two grad school dropouts developed Airwoot. To put it very simplistically, Airwoot combs through social media for anything… anything that happens to do with a specific product or service and analyzes the data so the client can actually begin to think about engaging with their customers, solving problems, or just highlighting what’s on the horizon.

We all know that we’re being tracked so that ads and search inquiries result in stuff that’s most relevant to the sort of consumer “they” think we are. It’s a bit disturbing, but it’s a Brave New World, and no one’s tried to feed me Soma yet, so I’m not too alarmed.

What I think is remarkable about these two young men is how they used their passion and education to develop a means to realistically sort through all that data (a.k.a. consumer opinion) and provide a thorough analysis on what’s relevant to the client, how they can resolve frequently mentioned issues, and even engage the consumer themselves. And they do it quickly, because they’re aware of the post, tweet, or whatever right away rather than having some poor intern combing through the whole world’s Twitter feed searching for references to his company’s widgets.

Naturally, the creators of Airwoot had to pursue startup capital. And as sound and solid (and genuinely necessary) this idea is for any business with a large enough market presence, they still had to sell the idea. While they have secured some healthy investment capital in their native India, they still haven’t achieved the heights they claim their service can achieve. We shall see…