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Attentive.ly, a Tool to Mine Your Supporters' Minds, Just Launched

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, September 26 2012

Advocacy groups and poitical campaigns are a key audience of a new tool that aims to help groups or companies connect their e-mail lists with social media discussion.

The new company, Attentive.ly, was co-founded by Cheryl Contee and Roz Lemieux of Fission Strategy, who both have many years of experience working for political and advocacy organizations.

Even as social media has become an increasingly important communication tool, many advocacy organizations have had a difficult time justifying spending money on it, Lemieux said in an interview.

"They have spent so much money really learning to be effective e-mail campaigners," she said, that they often choose to spend their limited resources on that kind of outreach. The idea behind Attentive.ly, she said, was to come up with a way to make it easy for them to spend resources on social media without having to start from scratch, and to take advantage of their big e-mail lists.

When groups sign up for the service, they can upload their e-mail lists and also indicate what segments are important to them, from donors and volunteers to top activists or inactives who no longer open e-mails, Lemieux explained. Attentive.ly then undertakes a social media match using information like first and last name, e-mail and zip code. The service then establishes profiles of e-mail list members with information about their social media presences, including their Klout score, and the groups can then access a dashboard showing what their list members are talking about on Facebook and Twitter.

With some organizations having more than 10,000 people on their e-mail lists, the analysis often reveals surprises, Lemieux said, such as celebrities or top journalists among their supporters who might be worth cultivating relationships with. The tool also allows the organizations to search for keywords, such as finding everyone talking about climate on Twitter, and shows trending topics, hashtags and what websites supporters are sharing.

Lemieux said the service could help organizations plan off-line events like fundraisers. Before organizing fundraisers in 10 different cities, "you can look up who are the people in a given city talking about my candidate," she said. "You can then reach out to donors in New York who are talking about my candidate and have a high Klout score," she added. "Then you could have 10 event co-hosts in a given city that have Klout scores over 60, who could commit to bringing 50 people and be tweeting about it."

Attentive.ly, which officially launched yesterday, has been in a closed beta for the past year with selected organizations such as Moms Rising, the National Resources Defense Council, the Center for American Progress, SEIU and the AFL-CIO, Lemieux said. Yesterday, Attentive.ly also announced a partnership with NGP VAN. Attentive.ly has also been working on less formal partnerships with other vendors in the space, she said.

Many organizations have been seeing the writing on the wall as e-mail communications have been becoming "increasingly challenging," Lemieux said. Attentive.ly has adjusted its product in response to feedback.

"We found that throwing a lot of data at groups was only marginally helpful," she said. "We had to aggregate stats and have them organized in a way that made it clear what was actionable."

This led to a new interface with a newsfeed that shows changes among supporters, such as who is gaining in Klout Score, who is talking about the organization and what hashtags are trending. Groups can create also watchlists for keywords, such as "climate" or "whales," on a long-term or time-sensitive short term basis.

For the moment the service is primarily focused on data from Facebook and Twitter, though it does add users' Linkedin presence to their profile page, and there are plans to add other social networks in the future. In both cases the data only comes from public Facebook and Twitter posts.

Another feature that groups requested was a function to send targeted e-mails, Lemieux said.

"You can find people talking about a specific topic, export that list, such as all my users who tweeted about climate, and send them a message like, 'We're launching a new climate campaign, can you tweet about it?'"

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