Meshfire hopes it can slay the social media beast with AI

Marketing’s war with social media rages on. In one corner, you have the Twitterverse—a temperamental beast that never sleeps, is always hungry, and changes shape on a minute-by-minute basis. In the other corner are community managers, marketers, and every possible noun you can affix to ‘social media’ (ninja, maven, expert, dilettante, etc.)

The two contenders meet in the middle every day, attempting to best each other. But excepting the occasional Oreo-Super-Bowl type of triumph, the latter group rarely wins. What could possibly defeat our robot overlords? Another robot, obviously.

Meshfire is Hootsuite meets HAL, a social media management platform that thinks it knows what’s best for you. Ember, its core intelligence, uses machine learning as its base and layers on the advice of human social media experts to recommend the best content for Twitter posts. It examines your network and then recommends who to connect with and what conversations to join.

Meshfire taskboard

CMO Amber Osborne and CEO Eli Israel created Meshfire with the small business in mind, those companies over-served by full-fledged suites like Spredfast but frustrated by the lack of features on Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.

To recommend influencers, Ember takes into account Klout scores, interest topics, frequency of interaction, and those who converse rather than broadcast (Ember would hate me). So far, the ideal clients have been video game companies like 3D Realms, who deal with a large amount of social media volume in their communities. (I can’t help but guess what sort of recommendations Ember was making during GamerGate.)

Logging into Meshfire for the first time presents you with a task board as it ingests your tweets. Ember recommended people to block – most of which I agreed with, though one was a close friend – and people to follow (only @meshfire so far). It also recommended logical accounts to connect with, like Bitly, Feedly, and Buffer. Overall, it provided a decent intro to a new product, although time will tell how smart Ember really is in directing me.

When Ember does work well, it can allow a company to react to high-profile tweets from a mass of volume. During a large PR push around the Kickstarter for its game Obduction, Cyan Inc. was receiving too many incoming tweets to process them all, much less react. But when Neil Patrick Harris tweeted at them, Ember brought a taskcard to the top of Cyan’s taskboard, allowing for an immediate response.

The biggest obstacle for Meshfire is its competitive landscape. In addition to Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Sprout, there are also up and comers like Bottlenose, created by the progenitor of data geekness Nova Spivack, and Dataminr, whose strategic partnership with Twitter includes real-time access to all public tweets. Meshfire’s “do this, then this, then that” approach seems more targeted to the social media commoner, though, of which there are legion.

Osborne is a textbook case of one whose career arguably wouldn’t exist without social media. Diving into Twitter after college, she caught the attention of Bruce’s Yams (yes, yams) with her unabashed tweets proclaiming her love for the product. The company ultimately hired her to manage its social media presence. She then started her own social media consulting agency, at which she built up a respectable network (30k+ followers). A Twitter conversation with Israel about the poor quality of tools for managing social media resulted in the eventual creation of Meshfire. Her product must be working. She was named #2 on Forbes’ list of 50 CMOs with the most social influence.

Meshfire currently runs on Twitter only, so further social integrations are in the works for Facebook and Instagram, as well as integrations with CRM suites. They’re also about to introduce the ability for customers to write their own lessons for Ember to learn, modeled after If This Then That code.

It’s difficult to predict the future for Meshfire. Osborne knows the social media game well, but so do many others. The product looks solid at first glance but users will need to immerse in it for at least a week to determine its intelligence. Speeding toward incorporating other social networks will ensure its future more than anything.

Featured photo courtesy of VLADGRIN/ThinkStock