In July last year, Skift launched its travel intelligence media service to the world.

The brainchild of PaidContent founder Rafat Ali, Skift is aimed squarely at the travel industry, serving up news, insight, data, tools and more.

At launch, Ali outlined his plans for Skift, the first phase kicking off as a news, information and data portal for travel brands. Part of the problem, as Ali sees it, is that while sectors such as media, technology and finance are well used to “digital native, 24/7, breaking news, analysis, opinion, with social hooks”, such media-information brands don’t exist in travel. What does exist is pre-Web legacy brands, that don’t even have mobile on their roadmap.

With that in mind, Ali and Co. see Skift as the homepage for the travel industry, tying together the various silos to serve up an all-encompassing data-fueled service. At launch, Ali said that Skift would adopt a studio approach to “build and manage a suite of meta-services that are a layer on top of existing services and open-Web data.” And one of these is SkiftSocial.

Skift goes social

Officially launching last week, SkiftSocial is a social media dashboard for travel brands – this includes airlines, hotels, resorts, startups and more. It includes rankings, comparisons and other metrics for these brands, on Twitter and Facebook.

One example use case could be how Heathrow Airport uses Twitter, including followers, tweet rate and its most active hours. But this is just the beginning.

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“We will be adding more social brands, such as Klout scores, Instagram and Pinterest as we build this,” says Ali. “This is also our first foray into data, social is the first lens we’re launching, and we are building the ultimate ‘Bloomberg-like’ data dashboard, and will add tonnes more metrics and data for brands in the travel industry.”

Jason Clampet, Skift co-founder and Head of Content, says that the brand page is the heart of SkiftSocial, giving insights into a business’s activity on Twitter and Facebook. “We’ve tried to give you a clear sense of a brand’s history on the social media networks, as well as what they’re up to right now,” he says. “On these pages you’ll discover not only how a brand talks to its fans, users, and customers, but when they do it and how long it takes.”

Indeed, by ‘brands’, this could mean anything…including an entire country. By that, of course, we mean the country’s official Twitter/Facebook accounts, as with Australia:

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Indeed, you can choose to see the most active destinations in the social sphere alphabetically, by number of followers, tweets, likes and wall activity.

Destinations 730x275 Skift gets social and aims to build a Bloomberg like data dashboard for the travel industry

These leaderboards also extend to other categories including airlines, airports, cruises, lodging, digital, media and rails.

At a glance, the main SkiftSocial portal displays a broad overview of social data, such as which companies have been the most active on Twitter and Facebook in the past fortnight.

Screenshot 12 Skift gets social and aims to build a Bloomberg like data dashboard for the travel industry

“It’s also a great way to see emerging trends — like @AmericanAir‘s intensely engaged Twitter team — or declining brands — like the slow death of one-time giant Where I’ve Been,” says Clampet.

In the six months or so since its inception, Skift has penned syndication deals with heavyweights such as CNN.com, NBCNews.com, AdAge and Quartz, with more on the way. “We’re growing very fast, possibly the fastest growing early stage travel startup right now,” says Ali. “We are the largest independent travel news/information site right now, that much we know from Comscore & Hitwise data.”

One surefire way of knowing whether you are the defining brand of an industry, perhaps in the same way as the likes of Airbnb has managed in online private accommodation rentals, or Uber (in some countries) in the driver-for-hire space, is if your name is used almost synonymously with the service you offer. Indeed, Ali says that Skift is on its  way to “becoming the lingo in the travel industry,” though it is still early days.

But with five people, Skift is still a small startup, and this is something Ali wants to retain as the company moves forward. “We’ve grown very lean, and intend to remain this way,” he says. “Unlike the other so-called ‘fat content startups’ such as BuzzFeed and Vox Media, very heavily funded and huge teams.”

As for SkiftSocial, this will remain a free product throughout its early beta stage, and as Ali noted, more social services will be added shortly.

SkiftSocial