I wrote this review in June 2014, but since I moved my blog (again and again), it seemed appropriate to revisit and update. A lot of it stayed the same anyway, because Meshfire was awesome to begin with.

This is my highly unusual review of Meshfire. (For more, check out Meshfire’s reviews on G2 Crowd!)

<#WackyReviews disclaimer>

Fair warning: I have a wacky personality (not to mention writing style) and ain’t afraid to use it — here be emotions expressed, Looney Tunes-characters, Elvis videos and even Renaissance-ish poetry… not for the faint-hearted!

</#WackyReviews disclaimer>

For them TL;DR folks: Meshfire is awesome and will rock your socks off!** Take it from me, I do this for a living. Sign. Up. NOW!

But back to the subject at hand.

I’ve been jokingly challenged to write content in sonnet-form (cough Paula cough ), which I actually found intriguing: I haven’t written poetry for more than 10 years, but was planning on picking it up again. To be fair, I only wrote sonnets in Hungarian before, so I apologize for being both a bit rusty and inexperienced.

Sonnet (to Ember)

If we to tweet, who will help clear the noise?
Is there a path to find that sets us free?
As sweet as air, as graced as women’s poise,
As bright as light, and smart to know ourneed?
So long we searched, so long we tried to find,
Like love itself: elusive prize to claim;
Many have tried, but few could walk the line,
What should be fun is now in stress and shame.
But here’s this girl, all fired up to play,
Our tweets are her music, she’s here to dance;
Killing boredom, with poise and ease she came,
No goal’s too huge, no “post and take a chance”.
Ember, darling, we welcome Thee to stay,
Help us make this crazy world of ours great!

(Hey: it’s Shakespearean, not Shakespeare! And I’m just starting to get back in the poetry game, so leave me alone! :-P)

Now to the review.

Context: I’m addicted to social media, and microblogging/Twitter in particular. And, social media being not only my passion but my job as well, I’m constantly on the lookout for tools that help me navigate it.

I tried every single social media management app there is out there: from Tweetdeck to CrowdBooster, from HootSuite to Sprout Social — you name it, I used it. While many of these do a very fine job, every single one of them lacked something fundamental.

Enter Meshfire.

meshfire-workflow
Image credit: Meshfire

There are many ways of doing social media, but most of them focus way too much on numbers and way too little on being actually -gasp- social. The ability to, for example, schedule your posts or measure their reach is of course valuable, but I more and more got the feeling that the whole social management space started to turn towards a robotic, automated, impersonal process in the recent years.

I’ve been looking at Meshfire for some time, but I’ll be honest: I didn’t pay much attention to it, thanks to the aforementioned trend in social media tools. I developed a workflow of my own, and began to distrust any claim of “revolutionizing social media management”.

Then Paula Gould, GreenQloud‘s CMO (and my boss 🙂 ) went to the CloudNOW Awards and the GigaOM Structure Conference in San Francisco, and pinged me on our company chat with a message that simply said:

"Tomorrow can you look into Meshfire. I met their CMO today."

And so I did. And boy, oh boy am I glad I did!

Meshfire is a social media empowerment platform, currently focusing on Twitter. They’re planning to include more networks, but they want to deliver a complete package — the same way Google perfected search before becoming Skynet… I mean, moving on to taking over the world creating new products.

They don’t even label themselves as a “management tool” — they use “social media empowerment”, and it’s a fitting subtlety in language.

Meshfire believes social media has to come from human activity to be genuine. Thus, it automates only tasks that are truly automatable or best done by a machine to create a faster workflow for your team, and creates an environment that amplifies your real voice — and your ability to listen closely to your audience.

Spearheaded by Eli Israel, a veteran entrepreneur with decades of experience, and Amber Osborne, social media rockstar (and, hello!, one of the coolest, classiest and most colorful ladies I have ever had the good fortune getting in touch with) and their team they’ve pretty much set out to transform social media into what it absolutely should be: a human communication platform (and not a marketing & sales dump) enhanced (and not drowned out) by technology.

I apologize to the rest of the Meshfire team for not naming them here — I interact with Eli and Amber regularly, so their names come to the front more easily. Sowwy!

So, Meshfire, huh?

I’ll be honest: for the first week and a half, I was skeptical. Things didn’t work as I expected them to, I was frustrated by not finding my way around things and it was just not what I thought it’d be…

… but that was entirely my fault. I had to take the time to clear out the habits created by years of using the tools before (however creatively I was trying to subdue them to my own liking). I had to stop, and think through the logic behind Meshfire before I could realize that not only was it genius, but it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.

I suspect many others will have a similar experience, sharing a similar “digital muscle memory” from the years of using other apps. And even if they don’t, Meshfire still needs an acquired taste and a thoughtful, caring approach — and thank goodness it does, because it weeds out the worst of the “social media experts” plagueing this otherwise endlessly promising technology platform.

But back to Meshfire. Once you’ve got to know it, it’s endlessly fun and productive.

Introducing the star of the show: Ember!

First of all: she’s HOT! (Oh come on: that pun was almost obligatory!)

Not counting the fact that I’m a complete sucker for cute and whimsy mascots, it’s also a great statement of Meshfire‘s philosophy: it says that they’re going to put the fun back to social media management, where it belongs (and is sorely needed).

You can read all about Ember and the reasons she came to life in this blogpost from Amber.

Missions

Meshfire has missions. You can define different accounts for different missions, recruit different team members to each, set thresholds for task expiry, track different stats…

(Hey, people at social media firms managing multiple clients: stop drooling! This is available now!)

Hey, this social media thing is easy!” — said noone ever. It’s hard, not because it’s hard hard, but because it’s challenging, time-consuming and often frustrating. Or, rather, it was all that.

Beyond that, you can set mission goals: grow your followers, increase engagement, and so on. Not only does it create tangible, short-term goals to pursue, and thus focus your efforts on a specific thing that you need — it only introduces a sort of gamification that’s incredibly valuable. Social media CAN turn into a grind, and it’s always good to be reminded to take it easy.

Ingredients of awesome

Do you use lists? They’re now showed as tags, giving you the ability to determine the audience, tone of voice and importance of a possible engagement. How’s that for making interactions easy?

Ember selects the tasks through clever algorithms, and learns as you interact with the different tasks more and more.

Interacting with the different cards is foolproof. You also see the Klout score of the accounts, giving you even more information in a very visually appealing way.

My only caveat is that currently the interface uses similar checkbox icons both for the purpose of marking a card done in the Taskboard and creating a card in the timelines view. I expect this to change though. (Or maybe it’s just my simple-as-a-stone nature that messes with my head. Wouldn’t be the first time.) This has been fixed. Didn’t I tell you they rock?

My only caveat is that currently the interface uses similar checkbox icons both for the purpose of marking a card done in the Taskboard and creating a card in the timelines view. I expect this to change though. (Or maybe it’s just my simple-as-a-stone nature that messes with my head. Wouldn’t be the first time.) ← This has been fixed. Didn’t I tell you they rock?

How do you like them apples old and outdated social media apps now?

How do you like them apples? And by apples, I mean old and outdated social media apps…

  1. The Inbox represents the main timeline, the mentions (favorites from others included, effectively making this a “notifications” column rather than merely mentions — you’re welcome!) and the direct messages.

When you hover over a timeline, you’ll get a little “Pause” icon and it freezes it so you can interact with it — how freaking awesome is that? It’s the littlest things! (Anyone who ever tried to follow a Twitter timeline in real time will now have a coronary. Call 911.)

  1. The Outbox has your sent tweets (you can delete them, if you spot a tpyo or poor gremmer ), your scheduled posts (including your buffered posts to all networks) and the ones waiting your approval, you little micromanaging dictator, you!

  2. The Outbox has your sent tweets (you can delete them, if you spot a tpyo or poor gremmer ), your scheduled posts (including your buffered posts to all networks) and the ones waiting your approval, you little micromanaging dictator, you!

  3. My personal favorite, the Tag cloud. Being in the know is tremendously important, and this tool let’s you see what your network is talking about.

Clicking on a tag will display the tweets related to it, and you can interact with these in the same awesome way as in any other timeline.

  1. Do you want to discover more conversations to jump in? Ember’s got you covered: with the Tracking view you can put in keywords you’re interested in, and use this as your stalking management tool.

  2. Do you want to discover more conversations to jump in? Ember’s got you covered: with the Tracking view you can put in keywords you’re interested in, and use this as your stalking management tool.

Meshfire‘s Dashboard however gives you slightly different, much more human metrics. You can see your usual suspects: new followers, top responders, your statistics in clearing out cards…

Since my original review, the analytics dashboard has been revamped significantly. And it’s awesome. It’s clear and concise, with key metrics and insights instantly visible and sharable.

One fire to warm them all

  • Feedly
  • Buffer
  • Bitly
  • Flickr
  • SurveyMonkey
    • Slack

With more to come. You can save articles in Feedly and they’ll show up as cards in your Taskboard, to be posted on Buffer with Bitly shortening your links (and lengthening your career), with alerts from Flickr and SurveyMonkey so no sharable action goes unshared.

(A word on Buffer: this being my (now) second favorite social media tool, I’m extremely pleased that Meshfire not only displays buffered posts to all networks (a small icon would be nice though, so if I want to delete one, I wouldn’t need to go into my Buffer dashboard), but when you queue up 50 posts and only using the free plan (which lets you buffer 10 posts for each network) it won’t actually push it to Buffer until its time comes. And, as the cherry on top, you can be selective on what accounts to use as default.)

+ Support

How many companies can you name where the CEO and CMO answers your stupid (well, mine are stupid, yours might be actually clever) questions on Facebook? And while there are bugs (which love affair is without a couple of them? Roses and thorns, you know!), they are 1) not afraid to admit it; 2) fixing them.

It’s almost as -GASP- they understand what being social and making things social actually mean!

Summa: are you still here?

It’s extremely rare (and surprising, given the vibrant startup culture happening everywhere) when a company is able to create a perfect tool for the job. It comes from deeply understanding their audience, their goals and their scope.

For closing, the obligatory song (if you didn’t see this coming, I’m clearly too wacky for your taste ) — a.k.a. the King himself singing the glory of the *new Queen of Social Media:*Ember. ❤