May 8, 2013

Little Bird: New social tool helps identify potential supporters

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Photo by Randi Deuro on Flickr (CC BY)

New social tool helps organizations identify top influencers

Target audience: Businesses, brands, digital marketers, advertising agencies, SEO specialists, entrepreneurs, educators, journalists, Web publishers.

JD LasicaSocial media has changed not only marketing but search. Today, you need to know who are the top influencers in your sector before you can engage with them and convert them into becoming supporters or champions.

Marshall Kirkpatrick, CEO/co-founder of Little Bird: "We can deliver you right to the top of the mountain."

Marshall Kirkpatrick, CEO/co-founder of Little Bird: “We can deliver you right to the top of the mountain.”

Now along comes a new player in the social influence space whose goal is to provide that missing piece of the puzzle: Little Bird. The brainchild of Marshall Kirkpatrick, an entrepreneur/data journalist/technologist who was co-editor at ReadWriteWeb, Little Bird has been in closed beta since October with an exclusive focus on Twitter. But today the site is spreading its wings (sorry!) by expanding to include Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn. It’s still in private beta but the invitation wait time is very short.

Think of it as a way to roll your own army of supporters. “The ultimate vision is that anybody will be able to convene a circle of experts in their field: product design, nutritionists, ceramicists,” Marshall told me. “We can deliver you right to the top of the mountain to begin your engagement to save you the grind of the heavy lifting.”

The top of the mountain being the rugged mountaineers who have slogged to the social media summit and become the top influencers in their sectors. Similar in some ways to how Google’s Page Rank looks for linkbacks to web pages to determine credibility and relevancy, the Little Bird engine analyzes the connections between people to determine who has the most juice in a particular community or on a specific topic.

It’s all about the verticals

I tried Little Bird and was immediately impressed by how it sized up the top influencers in several fields. For social media marketers and public relations professionals, Little Bird offers special appeal, saving us countless hours of assessing who are the folks worth paying attention to — not just at the summit but far down the mountaintop as well.

But Little Bird holds much wider appeal. Don’t know if that fellow sitting in front of you in a job interview is all that? Suss him out on Little Bird — and see which of the influencers in his field are following him.

If you’re a journalist, you may want to know the top 15 experts in the field of water conservation.

For those of us tired of the firehose, Little Bird is a welcome relief

If this reminds you a bit of Klout, that’s OK. Influence is hot right now. But there are important differences. Klout is an axe, Little Bird is a scalpel. While Klout is about overall online popularity and clout, whatever that is, Little Bird is not about inducing people to pass along corporate messages to mass audiences. It’s more about discovering the people whose opinions matter in a particular niche or vertical.

“This is tool to build relationships and foster a deeper way to engage with people, not another way to spam people,” Marshall said.

Here’s a short video of Marshall introducing the service:

Introducing Little BIrd from getlittlebird on Vimeo.

A bit pricey, but worth it

OK, final details: Yes, it’s a bit pricey, so you’ll need to gauge whether it’s worth your investment. Little Bird costs $50/month for individuals (up to five reports), $250/month for small businesses, $500/month for mid-size businesses, $1,000/month for businesses with 101 to 500 employees and contract prices for enterprises. Last time I heard, they’re still weighing another pricing tier for nonprofits.

I haven’t tried all the features yet, but there are a sweet set of options beyond running reports. For those of us tired of the firehose, Little Bird is a welcome relief.

Little Bird is still a tad rough around some of the edges, as with any new service, but with Marshall at the helm, you can bet that Little Bird’s forays into online influencers will only get better and better. Search is becoming more social, and Little Bird is one of the companies leading the way.
JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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