What: BackType describes itself as a “conversational search engine” that allows users to follow conversations in comments sections on blogs, social networks, and other Web sites. The service enables users to not only track the comments they post on such sites, but also follow other BackType users.
The company has also introduced additional services: BackType Connect, which finds all conversations that link to a particular post or article, and BackTweet, which searches for links mentioned on Twitter, even if a URL-shortening Web site is used.
How: After a simple registration process, BackType encourages users to find their past comments on sites such as Gawker, Facebook, Digg, and more. It then tracks future comments, and sends e-mail alerts to users whenever certain topics are discussed.
“You can start subscribing to a community of people you find interesting or want to pitch,” adds Chris Brogan, president of social media agency New Marketing Labs. He follows Michael Arrington of TechCrunch via BackType.
Why: BackType can help with online monitoring for companies or clients, as well as keeping track of where users are active and commenting online. “If your job involves tracking conversations related to your brand, running a search for blog posts is just part of it,” says Brian Solis, founder of FutureWorks. “Searching for blog comments completes it.”
Brogan notes that the site is good for building relationships. “A PR professional looking to get ahead in the game can do so well by mining content on the Web,” he adds.
Who: In addition to Solis and Brogan, who have both written about BackType on their blogs, Todd Defren, principal at Shift Communications, is a proponent of the service. On his PRSquared blog, he has written about how PR professionals can use the site to be better at their jobs.
Andrew Smith, founder and director of UK-based digital communications consultancy Escherman, says BackType “points to the future of PR.”