Tuesday, March 17, 2015

More Social Media Stalking: Meet Tracx

My blog-colleague Daniel Katz reported a curious follow-up to his recent post about the Pearson-Tracx-Social media monitoring flap-- a piece of spambot advertising for Tracx that popped up in his comments. "Hilarious," I thought. "A company spams a blog that is actually holding it up as an example of bad behavior."

But lo and behold, this afternoon I find that I have two of the identical message on one of my own posts about Pearson's Big Brotherly behavior.

Tracx offers a unified, enterprise-scale, social media management platform. We help brands and organizations from around the world listen and learn about issues related to their products and services so that they can provide a better customer experience and reach new audiences. To learn more about Tracx visit http://www.tracx.com #customerexperience #betterservice #bettersupport #betterproducts​ #engagingnewaudiences 

The comment was "signed" by Benjamin Foley. Now put on your water-wings, boys and girls, as we head down the Tracx rabbit hole.

Turns out that Ben Foley is a person. In fact, he's the person who writes for the blog Making Tracx, all about the awesomeness of Tracx as a means of stalking customers on the interwebs. Come on! Let's learn more!

Meet Ben Foley

Foley's LinkedIn account announces that he is "a creative, results-oriented, energetic and highly motivated marketing leader. " Now, Ben is a young fella-- he's only been at his current post at Tracx since July of 2014, where he does cool things like leading "content creation activities (blog posts, social posts, thought leadership pieces/whitepapers)." Before that he spent nine months as a Tracx sales associate. Before that he was an intern at the Concord, MA, district courthouse (4 months). Before that four months at Vector Marketing, before that four months at the Nauset surf shop (summer of 2010), and before that, a little over two years as a grocery manager at Chatham Village Market in Chatham, MA.

Ben is a 2013 graduate of St. Lawrence University where-- well, I'll just let him tell you in his special prose style:

His relentless analytical interest in the forces that drive people’s emotions and behaviors, both at the individual and group level, resulted in his obtainment of a B.S. in Psychology from St. Lawrence University. Since then Ben has applied his passion for people, their motivations, and their interests to the social media analytics industry by influencing strategic vision and executing multifaceted marketing campaigns.

I don't want to indulge in too much mockation of Young Ben; I remember the days after my obtainment of my degreeification, and the deep pleasure I took in spouting college level gibberish. But this is a man who has clearly found a home in an industry that rewards garblizationizing. I mean, here's another one of his achievements as marketing coordinator:

 Drives multichannel lead generation activities which have yielded significant YOY increase in growth, coupled with a YOY increase in marketing generated pipeline.

This is the guy that Tracx has pushing Tracx out into the world and representing their consummate social mediazation skills. I'm feeling a little YOY myself.

What does he say about Tracx?

I happened to land on this blog post--Out of The Dark Ages: The Rise of Social Media Sentiment Analysis, Part 2-- The Renaissance.

Major irony alert: This is all about how media monitoring software can successfully read the sentiment of a post. In other words, the bots can tell whether your post is filled with love or deeply infusified with hatred and anger-- admittedly useful for companies to know. The post is from 2014, and so one would think that this wonderful software would be able to tell the difference between a blog post that says, "Shame on you, you terrible stalking big brothery corporate stooges" and one that says, "I love being stalked on line. Please tell me more about how I can be stalked more effectively." But apparently that feature is not yet available.

The latest post on the blog reports breathlessly that Edison Partners has featured Tracx CEO Eran Gilad because he's awesome. Eran first met the Tracx team when a friend asked him to validate their business plan, which I guess is how you "meet cute" in the tech world.

Eran has some business background beyond grocery management.

After 8 years as VP, Business Development at Comverse, a large telecom vendor, I decided to tap into the Israeli start-up nation scene where you can freely make no money and still be considered a local hero. Go figure.

He also spent five years in the military and worked with "the Nordics." His recommended reading for every executive is Siddhartha. And -- make of this what you will-- if given the chance to have a super-power, he would choose the power to cancel everyone else's super power.

The blog also trumpets that Tracx ("the global leader in social listening and engagement platforms for Fortune 1000 companies") has integrated image and text analytics, the better to figure out what we're all up to. For this post, Young Ben throws in another description of the Tracx brand:

Tracx is the next generation social enterprise platform that empowers brands to manage, monetize, and optimize their business. The technology refines and analyzes masses of data across all social channels, providing deep insights into customer, competitor, and influencer behaviors. It delivers the most relevant, high impact audiences and conversations by capturing a 360-degree view of activity around a brand, product, or ecosystem. With Tracx, companies obtain geographic, demographic, and psychographic insights to identify and target influencers, improve planning, enhance monitoring, and effectively focused engagement. Tracx is headquartered in New York City with offices in Tel Aviv and London .

YOY, indeed.

I don't want to pick on Young Ben personally, but spamming my blog is kind of asking for it. I just want us all to remember, the next time we're contemplating the kinds of companies that make a living finding more effective ways to monitor our behavior and sell the data to our corporate overlords-- let's all just remember that this is also the kind of company that hires and empowers the kind of fresh-faced young kid who writes about the obtainment of his degree, and if we found him in our high school parking lot monitoring the comings and goings of our students, it would make us sad. 



  1. So the lesson is it is still cheaper for Pearson to hire a real set of hands to do this kind of nonsense than it is to write a few lines of code that can do it automatically...?

    I wonder what kind of professional experience one truly gets doing work that is easily mistaken for a bot?

  2. " if given the chance to have a super-power, he would choose the power to cancel everyone else's super power."

    So, Eran is some odd variant of Syndrome? "and when everyone's super, no one will be"

  3. Why does Tracx have a gorilla as their logo? Do they see stalking students like being on a Safari? https://twitter.com/tracx

  4. I'm surely sharing but will have to get over the giggles first...splendid. Also can't wait to use "garblizationizing" ~ with all the academics in my networks, it won't be long