Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Blab 'acts as crystal ball' for social media

By Brandon Clements, CNN
updated 12:57 PM EDT, Mon September 8, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Blab predicts topics before they start trending
  • It analyzes 100 million conversations a day, and 50,000 news sources
  • More companies are seeing the value of engaging with customers in real-time

Smart Business explores the ways companies are thinking smart to thrive in our digitized world.

(CNN) -- It's no secret that corporate branding is big business. But in the age of social media, staying ahead of consumer conversations is an increasing challenge. Enter Randy Browning and his company, Blab. It works on predictive social intelligence -- identifying and predicting emerging topics and conversations before they trend on the internet.

The company's propriety technology, aptly named Blab Predicts, gathers 100 million conversations a day, across six social networks and 50,000 news sources in real time. Seattle, Washington-based Blab then classifies those conversations into topics. Companies pay for the predictive data related to each topic.

CNN spoke with Browning to find out more about Blab and the merits of using predictive technology.

CNN: Give us an example of Blab and how it works.

Church: Go forth and tweet

Randy Browning: So let's say you're an airline and you're going into spring break, and you've got a lot of business riding on flights into Florida. All of a sudden, there's a shark attack in Florida. And the news is something that's going to move from the news world into the blog world and start resonating with your target audience.

Blood moon blows up social media

Blab is able to tell that airline this is just a news blip it's going to last 12 hours and it's going to not go further than that, or this is going to be a big issue and it's going to be pervasive 72 hours out. So we are really truly a crystal ball, saying here's how people are going to be dealing with this story that's hitting the press right now.

CNN: Why do companies need to predict conversations on social media?

RB: There's been a fundamental shift in the way that marketers need to engage customers and it comes down to this: customers are happy operating in real time. I learn, I'm engaged, I'm excited about living my life in real time. But businesses are scared to death to operate in real time! Because when you're spending millions of dollars in media, you don't want to be in a reactive state.

You don't want to say, "Hey, I'm caught off guard." What we do for them is we shift time. We say here's what will be resonating with your target audience up to 72 hours in the future.

CNN: You say that you're the first company to do this kind of predictive social intelligence. What are the challenges of being an early adopter of new technology?

There's been a fundamental shift in the way that marketers need to engage customers.
Randy Browning

RB: Every start-up has issues it has to overcome. With Blab, it was my background in advertising. I had a vision but I wasn't a technologist. So I couldn't get in my garage and start building this. I didn't have venture capitalist connections. So it wasn't about calling up a friend and saying, fund us without the proof.

That was the barrier I had to solve in building Blab, bring the right founding technology team together, the right angel investors together who would believe in a vision.

CNN: What advice do you have for others who are starting a business?

RB: My advice for entrepreneurs is if you're driven by a passion and an industry understanding, do your research around financing and investing. That is key, that's the success to getting a company off the ground. And keeping a company going.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:57 AM EST, Thu December 4, 2014
Faster, smarter, more productive...will you work harder when you've been micro-chipped?
updated 6:03 AM EST, Tue December 2, 2014
The population in Beijing has quadrupled in less than 10 years. China's game-changing taxi-hailing app is now making travel easier for millions.
updated 9:43 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
Virtual reality is about to be unleashed into the world of business with brands using it to offer test drives and virtual showrooms.
updated 6:26 AM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
Music licensing company Loudr wants to take the guess work out of covering songs.
updated 5:34 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
Through next-generation climate analysis tools, the agriculture industry can thrive in extreme weather conditions.
updated 11:45 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Cities are getting crowded -- where's the next place to go? Underground.
updated 12:51 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
With working hours getting longer, business are turning to creative ways of increasing employee satisfaction.
updated 5:25 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
A new company are using tech to take the guess work out of buying the perfect bra.
updated 9:27 AM EST, Mon November 3, 2014
bti
The jobs market is facing difficulties but business matchmaking could be the solution.
updated 8:11 PM EST, Thu November 6, 2014
A poster for the movie
Creativity runs through the veins of the entertainment industry, but recent digital innovations are more experimental than ever.
updated 7:29 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
36KR, a website started by 26-year-old entrepreneur Liu Chengcheng, connects new start-ups with investors.
updated 5:45 AM EST, Thu November 13, 2014
The short lives of disposable tableware: convenient, yet wasteful. A small family business is offering a greener alternative.
smart business logo
How companies are thinking smart to thrive in our digitized world.
ADVERTISEMENT