Recently I’ve been looking into several project management tools for my team to use in the New Year.  Of course they all sound great on their website’s sales pitch but what do the people who actually use them have to say about these tools?

I decided to use the social media analytics tool Backtype to research one of my options, the leading web-based project management and collaboration tool Basecamp.  I hoped to learn more about other creative team’s experience using Basecamp, as well as see how Backtype is used to report online activity.

After searching for the URL from the Backtype home page, their first screen is the Summary tab and shows me the “Weekly Engagement” tweets and comments related to this domain.  I can see that over the past 3 months there have been consistent mentions of Basecamp with a low of 13 and a high of 65 tweets per week.  The stats on the side tell me 3,822 tweets overall, plus a handful of other mentions in various social media platforms. THE VERDICT: Nice chart but doesn’t tell me if people are saying positive or negative things, and therefore not very useful for my purposes.

The second tab is Audience.  It gives me another chart, this one the number of Twitter users sharing related links. It also shows me the Top Influencer and their stats for followers/friends/updates on Twitter. THE VERDICT: Maybe if I was googling Apple or Coca Cola I’d see more results but as it is, there isn’t enough information here to grab my attention. This page is pretty empty.

Backtype Screen Cap

Nice chart but does it tell me anything new?


The third tab is Conversations and here is where things get interesting.  Backtype lists all the latest tweets for Basecamp.  The first thing I notice is that most of these conversations are not in English.  Basecamp is an international tool and judging from these tweets I see what looks like German, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Mandarin users all talking about the program.  Taking only the English tweets, let’s look at 10 recent comments (listed from newest to oldest) about Basecamp and see what they tell us about customer satisfaction.

  1. rogers: Basecamp de-emphasize free on the signup page.. now the Basic plan.. mo’money mo’money..
  2. twaddington: @kmatthews Basecamp is a good bet:
  3. berniedodge: Using Basecamp for the first time to manage 8 different game design projects in my class. Seems promising.
  4. vianovagroup: Need to wow your customers with on time project delivery? Use Basecamp to manage your projects. We Do!
  5. jeffachen: For project specific collaboration, project mgmt tools also come in handy. I like
  6. DBCAHEADQUARTER: We just transferred DBCA Digitals internal project management over to Basecamp – and we love it!
  7. foamandthunder: Free Basecamp plan is back. 🙂
  8. soulhuntre We’re adding/tweaking/improving nearly every day:
  9. CodyNolden: Basecamp doubles its prices, how will a small business ever afford this? #fail
  10. nicksergeant: In case you needed *another* reason to leave Basecamp, their cheapest plan is now $50/month:

At first glance I saw a lot of recommendations and happy users, but there is an undertone of criticism for the program and their new pricing strategy. Users are concerned that Basecamp is setting its sights too high and leaving the little guy – the small businesses, web programmers, graphic designers – behind.  The tweets tell me that people are generally satisfied with the Basecamp program and that I should continue to look into this software for my team. Basecamp seemed to realize that raising their prices had angered people and, as #7 and #1 show, the free plan was mysteriously brought back.  They need to be careful, there are hundreds of new project management programs coming up behind them, trying to capitalize on their weaknesses with their hopes of becoming the next go-to project management software.  Alienate your clients and they’ll start shopping around for something cheaper and better. Basecamps seems to be aware of this and as #8 says, they are trying to add, tweak and improve every day. THE VERDICT: Backtype’s Conversation tab is a quick and easy way to review recent conversations about a topic or company, and is the most useful aspect of the Backtype tool.  As for Basecamp, I’d rate them a solid 9.5/10 for customer feedback as there were many more recommendation tweets and retweets from the past few weeks than I chose to include here.  Plus they seemed to act on the user comments they were seeing and made actual changes to their website and business structure as a result of the criticisms. Job we done.

What do you think about these online tools, Backtype and Basecamp?  If you have any recommendations for other project/time/task management programs please post them in the comments.  As I mentioned, there are a huge number to explore beyond Basecamp and the main thing is finding the right combination to work for my team and our specific requirements. I’m not convinced Basecamp is right for us so my search continues…