WHEN Matt Granfield co-founded online marketing and web design company e-CBD in 2001, social networking was still largely considered an online playground, but the 29-year-old has never been one to shy away from opportunity.

Fast forward close to a decade and Granfield has since set up e-CBD partner company dp dialogue and his brainchild online marketing tool Dialogix, is taking the specialist social media marketing sector by storm.

Dialogix uses advanced software to search through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to create a database of market sentiment information.

“Think of it essentially as deploying spiders that crawl through the net — a bit like what Google does, to pick up key words, phrases and comments about a business. The program then processes this information and puts it into a database,” explains Granfield.

“The program is particularly popular with bigger businesses that need to know what’s being said about them and the general market sentiment around their product or brand.

Dialogix is also utilised by companies that may have had a PR crisis and need to assess how much damage has been done.

“You can use traditional market research methods but there is nothing like social media to monitor what’s really being said. We rarely have an enquiry from a company that turns around and says ‘we don’t really need this’.”

Highlighting the need for a human element to monitor such tools, the IT entrepreneur uses the feasible scenario of a blogger ‘thanking’ an airline for losing their luggage as an example of how software might misconstrue sarcasm as positive sentiment.

It is for the same reason that dp dialogue has found its niche in the marketplace with the perfect balance of digital and human resources.

“There is always a threat from Google that they might come in and do something similar, but the human element to what we do would make it difficult,” says Granfield.

“We always use humans to check the data that robots are collecting. Dialogix is not a purely technical tool, nor is it purely a human-based service.”

An advocate of social networking and media as an essential tool for business growth, Granfield believes there is still a certain amount of hype surrounding the technology.

“I think we’re in the middle of a gold rush. Companies shouldn’t expect their revenues will increase massively through social networking – but they should be utilising the internet as a marketing tool,” he says.

“We will always be in a good position though because businesses will always need websites and online marketing tools. Consumers don’t look in the Yellow Pages anymore – they expect to be able to find them on the internet.

“We’re now seeing social media sites influencing consumer behaviour, and that in turn has brought web marketing to a whole new level.”

Dp dialogue was established in 2008 as an offshoot of e-CBD in partnership with Brisbane marketing company De Pasquale. Granfield concedes the Dialogix tool is still fresh, but the company as a whole has maintained 30 per cent growth year on year for the last decade.

“Last financial year turnover was around $1.5 million but we have very little overheads. With 14 staff not being paid in peanuts the only major financial burden is the wages,” he says.

“As a director I’m personally driving the product and coming up with the ideas for the latest developments and upgrades, but it’s very much a hands-on project and our entire team is very dedicated and involved.

“I think any business owner has their moments of self-doubt especially in the beginning, but I’ve never been in business purely for myself so I guess I’m lucky in that perspective – I’ve always been surrounded by good, supportive people such as Marilyn Strauss (e-CBD co-founder).

“I’ve always been an entrepreneur in that if I see an opportunity I won’t shy away from it, if I’ve got an idea I’ll always back myself to make it happen.”

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