Trying Out Owler

It all started with a tweet. To be specific, it started with this tweet, which showed up in my Twitter stream: “@HadenInteractiv vs. Belford. And the winner is: http://ow.ly/NRTNA” The winner was, as you’ll see if you click through to check, our good friend Angela Belford.

Owler tweet

But what exactly was she winning? Was this some Northwest Arkansas digital marketing company version of a Mayweather-Pacquiao throwdown?

Not quite. It’s Owler, an interesting tool that lets you gain inside knowledge about your competitors, customers, investments, or just companies you want to stalk.

You can line up all your competitors and see just what the Owler community thinks of them. For Northwest Arkansas digital marketing firms, it’s not a very exciting fight;

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The problem here is that all the ratings are based on Owler votes. Here’s Angela’s winning profile:

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I quickly put in all the local digital marketing companies that I could think of off the top of my head, and sure enough, 3 Owler followers is the top score.

Rosie thought we should encourage everyone we knew to go sign up for Owler and follow us, thus catapulting ourselves ahead of Angela and to the top of Owler.

I thought that wouldn’t be a real thing.

Larger companies have more followers, naturally, but Walmart has only 184. Most of the listed companies have zero followers and have not filled out their profiles — that is, they have not shared any information. Since everything from revenue to number of employees to how good a job the CEO is doing is crowdsourced through “Owler consensus,” the small sample size matters.

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For a small business, I’d say Owler is useless. It would make a good party game, perhaps; I can see all of us at WordCamp trying to best one another and cheering as each company manages to supplant another company by adding their status as a private company or guessing whether the company will be bought.

Rosie pointed out that this tool offers info on competitors’ social media, and that it can line all your competitors up for easy comparison of social media activity, which can be a good message to those of us with a cobbler’s children going barefoot scenario. She also observes that Owler gives companies an opportunity to be competitive and manipulative in public, which has certainly been popular in personal social media platforms. “It gives them a place to behave in an obsessive way about their competitors,” she points out.

As a source of information, though, it’s currently less useful than Manta. Come back in a decade, or join now to help Owler get more data to work with.

Either way, congratulations to Angela!

2 thoughts on “Trying Out Owler

  1. I like the concept but it feels like it is 10-15 years too late. When there was a rush to get ‘online’ by every business, a crowd sourcing site could flourish with a simple model of getting their name out there, showing some basic value and making it easy to sign-up and contribute content. Everyone piles in and as it grows, more value, more growth, more value…rinse and repeat!

    Owler seems forced in 2017. A PR/newswire aggregator with some UI and polling and then outdated company stats. If I was a private company, why in gods name would I post company value, revenue, employee size and other intimate details that most companies don’t want to divulge? How is knowing the ‘likeability’ of the CEO by his/her employees important to my prospects?

    Owler can’t really encapsulate why a company would ever join their platform other than spouting some dribble about crowd sourcing and having some videos from the owner’s buddies touting the benefits…yet not actually saying anything.

    If I want to know how the employees feel, there is glassdoor. Even google reviews.Google alerts for competitor news updates and you can always just go to their site to read the content they put out. Rounds of investment and revenue are meaningless unless updated on a quarterly business.

    Owlers is a tool for lazy sales and marketing people who think peppering in random facts adds value. Execs, like the woman from oracle, who no doubt does a number of meaningless presentations where meaningless ‘facts’ add value. Owler does a little bit of everything but does nothing incredibly well.

    I like the owl mascot.

    -Blue

  2. I’m with you on this. Back when we first tried it out, it seemed as though it might just be too early to see any benefit. After all, any crowdsourced medium needs a crowd before it can really work well.

    But Owler doesn’t seem to have that crowd. Their data, for the reasons you’ve mentioned, isn’t coming from the companies directly, so it’s essentially a collection of gossip.

    On the other hand, Walmart now has over 70,000 followers.

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