Social Enterprise

See how ThinkUp's social analytics replaces charts with stories and insights

Forget funnels and impressions. ThinkUp aims to give users analytics to make them more human on social media.

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Image: ThinkUp

If you've got more than 600 followers on Twitter, you have the equivalent of the town of Eminence, Missouri following you.

For analytics app ThinkUp, they're betting that knowing you've got an entire town tuned into what you tweet is going to make you a better tweeter.

"Analytics app" doesn't quite explain ThinkUp. Your average person spends a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter, and feeds them a lot of data that gets used for optimizing advertising. ThinkUp founder Gina Trapani, who also started LifeHacker, said "I should know what they know."

That's not meant in a alarmist sense, but meant from an awareness and education perspective. A user could be totally fine that they've shared their almost exact location 10 times in the past month, but they should know.

For $5 a month, ThinkUp users get an email every day with insights on their activity, but the insights don't come in complicated charts and graphs illustrating click-throughs and impressions. They come in short, plain English snippets meant to provide context to what users do online, like this one: "Before ICYMI went legit: @ErinCarson used the word 'ICYMI' 3 times since June 2013, and it appears to have caught on: It's just been added to the Oxford Dictionary Online."

A user might also receive an insight about how frequently he or she uses words like "I," "me," or "my" in posts. They might also find out how often they "me-tweet" (retweet other people's tweets about them).

"There's research on the way that we share online — if we talk about ourselves, that actually turns people off a little bit, and people actually lose followers and lose engagement if it happens too much," Trapani said. The insight might provide a percentage of how many tweets that week contained those words.

"We'll say, 'how can we point this out in a way that's non judgmental, but funny and straightforward?'" she said.

They stay positive and conversational when writing their insights. In Trapani's view, idealistic.

"We want the app to help you feel good about the time you spend online and not feel bad, not feel like you're wasting your life, we actually think you're doing exactly the opposite," she said.

And part of the idealism and optimism is built into the idea that they can build a product engaging enough that customers will get behind it.

"We think that if you build a great product on the web that people love, they'll pay for it and you'll be able to support yourself. That's a theory we're still testing," she said.

Trapani started work on ThinkUp in 2009. At the time, Twitter didn't corral replies and mentions as neatly as it does now. However, its API was relatively easy to deal with, and she spent a weekend putting together a tool that would help her get a grasp on her social space.

But while ThinkUp has existed for five years, it was only officially launched as a company in the past year. She launched it with co-founder Anil Dash.

Trapani's favorite metric is the one that tells her how many times she's thanked or congratulated someone online.

"Every month I want to thank someone publically online more than I did the month before, so that's been the one that's changed my behavior," she said. "It makes me happy, it makes them happy, it makes the network a more positive place, and I think we need more positivity on our networks given some of the crap that goes on."

For Trapani, working on ThinkUp is an interesting next step for her in her career. As Lifehacker was about doing things faster and more efficiently, ThinkUp is made to help users take time on social media.

"I'm going to spend time doing these things and this is the app that will help me be more aware and be more mindful and be more positive, so it's about creating meaning where maybe there wasn't any before, that's what I really hope to do for our users," she said.

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About Erin Carson

Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.

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