Tech Pioneers

Alex Orap

Founder and Chief of Growth


Winner 2024

Alex Orap

What’s your background? How did you get into social listening?

I graduated from Kyiv National University, majoring in Computer Science. My entire professional career has been in the tech sector—I've worked in telecommunications, consumer internet companies, and founded a couple of my own business projects along the way (not all of them made it!).

I've always been passionate about emerging technologies and new business models. The opportunity for a social listening startup caught my eye in 2009 as social media was rapidly gaining popularity and forward-thinking companies began exploring how to leverage social media for their businesses. 

We prototyped YouScan and secured our first clients in 2010, establishing ourselves as pioneers in the social listening industry.

What attracted you to social listening?

I believe technologies should positively impact society, and YouScan embodies this belief. Our mission at YouScan is to "help companies listen to their customers and improve."

Our platform enables companies to better understand their customers by collecting and analyzing their publicly shared feedback on social media.

These newfound consumer insights help companies enhance their products and services, serve their customers better, and hopefully, improve their customers' lives.

Our mission statement illustrates a win-win scenario: we, as a valuable service provider; companies, by better understanding their customers' needs and desires through our product; and customers—ordinary people like ourselves—who receive improved products and services from these companies.

We see YouScan as a force for good in society, beyond just being a business and an excellent workplace. It adds meaningfulness to our work and fosters a powerful sense of purpose.

What’s the most innovative way a client has used your tool?

In Mexico City, a tragic incident occurred when two people were seriously injured after falling into an uncovered sewer. Despite prior social media reports about the poorly maintained sewers, the government had not addressed the problem, leading to a significant reputation crisis. 

We used our technology to first search for social media posts mentioning sewers/drains in the context of danger and risk. Then, with YouScan’s advanced image analysis, we identified posts with street scene images to pinpoint the locations reported by citizens as dangerous. 

This approach transformed citizens into real-time reporters, simplifying the government's job to send personnel to manage the crisis.

The most interesting client project you’ve worked on?

One of the most interesting and impactful projects involved using social listening for brand reputation risk mitigation related to image analysis.

Malicious entities were selling products online that bore famous brand logos but were, in fact, illegal counterfeit cannabinoid-containing products unrelated to our client. 

Utilizing YouScan’s Visual Insights—our image analysis capability—the client could identify images and social accounts promoting these fake products. 

This enabled the brands to take action against the sellers and producers of these counterfeit goods, mitigating brand reputation risks and reducing the circulation of potentially harmful products.

What’s the one thing that no social listening technology has cracked yet?

Bot detection remains an unresolved challenge. Everyone recalls Elon Musk's infamous promise to rid the Twitter platform of bots, and the current situation on “X” speaks volumes. As social platforms themselves struggle to reliably identify bot accounts, it becomes an even more daunting task for social listening platforms, which lack access to the extensive user behavioral data that platforms typically have.

The recent surge in Generative AI tools has only magnified this issue. I'm not overly optimistic about solving the bot problem in the near future, but I'm eager to be proven wrong. If you’re a social media researcher or a tech company with a potential solution, we’d love to hear from you!

What do you see as technology’s role in social listening?

Technology plays a crucial role. Without the advanced technology and AI to sift through the noise and extract meaningful information from the vast amount of unstructured social data, social listening wouldn’t be feasible. YouScan’s Insights Copilot, a GPT-powered AI assistant, represents our latest innovation to simplify social listening for our users.

Insights Copilot goes beyond data summarization; it allows users to inquire about their social listening data in natural language through a chat interface. Furthermore, it supports its responses with relevant social media post examples, enabling users to verify its conclusions and trust the insights provided.

What do you think is the future of social listening?

Social listening will increasingly be integrated into businesses of all sizes, from large enterprises to SMBs. With the advent of generative AI technologies, the learning curve for social listening tools will decrease, making it easier for less experienced users to query social data and derive valuable insights for their businesses.

Let’s talk about 2024, what your goals? what obstacles will you be overcoming? what are you looking to achieve?

As a company with Ukrainian roots, our primary hope and goal is for a Ukrainian victory over russian aggression. In addition, we aim to continue innovating and providing top-notch social media intelligence tools and technologies, coupled with exceptional customer service, to our clients.

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