Small business success: technology and social media combine

With his new company SeeVibes, entrepreneur Laurent Maisonnave discovered a whole new way to measure audience sentiment...from his couch.

Miguel Pires da Rosa (Wiki Commons)

Laurent Maisonnave and his wife watch TV in the living room with the flat screen on and computers in their laps like most modern couples. One winter day in 2010, the Montreal couple were watching hockey and chatting with friends on Facebook about the game, when suddenly Maisonnave had an epiphany. “I was like, are we alone?” he recalls.

That one question sparked an idea that could one day change the way TV networks and advertisers produce television shows and ads. Soon after that hockey game, he began developing a way to monitor conversations on Twitter and Facebook for keywords and content connected to specific programs. A short time later his company, SeeVibes, was born.

SeeVibes uses social media monitoring to determine what people are saying and watching on TV. His “platform”, as he calls it, automatically collects, filters and organizes millions of pieces of TV show-related posts and Tweets and converts the raw data into easy-to-read reports. For instance, if Dragons’ Den is on, his platform will search for hashtags related to the show, such as #dragonsden, #denheads #cbcdragonsden. It will also look at comments directed to the show’s Twitter account and crawl the site for keywords, like ‘Kevin O’Leary’ or the names of the other judges.

The system makes a determination such as if people are tweeting about a program more than a competing show, how many people those posts and tweets reach, what people are saying about a program, if the program is driving an action like making people visit a website, and much more. “It’s the next generation of ratings,” he says.

While it’s only two years old, the company is already making waves. Its clients include Shaw Communications, Quebecor and well-known advertising agency Cossette Inc. and it’s received funding from venture capital firm Real Ventures and startup accelerator FoundFuel.

Maisonnave still has a ways to go before his platform dethrones Nielsen as the TV ratings king. He also needs to sign on the major networks, such as CTV, CBC and Rogers, but he says it’s only a matter of time until people see just how valuable social media-related information can be.

This type of monitoring, he says, can help advertisers find out exactly what type of person is watching a particular program and it can assist networks in creating content targeted at specific demographics, genders and tastes. Networks can get viewership numbers immediately and will also be able to tell in real-time if a show is tanking.

As TV watching evolves, so too should the measuring system, says Maisonnave. “It’s now a full TV watching experience,” he says “Social media is a real opportunity for the television industry. We watch shows with our community and see what others are saying.”