Media Pitch: Engage Social's Rich User Data May Help Publishers Challenge the Duopoly
Publishers continue to surrender audience and valuable data to third-party platforms like Facebook, Google, and Snapchat. These platforms have become the primary mode of content discovery, and increasingly, consumers are engaging with content on platforms rather than on publishers’ websites. At the same time, social engagement is a powerful tool that can help spread awareness of publisher content and drive significant traffic to their sites. Startup Engage Social hopes to magnify the benefits of third-party platforms while capturing proprietary data for publishers on their most valuable influencers. In the following interview Engage Social founder and CEO Anand Jagannathan explains how the startup is helping publishers grow referral traffic and gain deeper insights on influencers through branded share buttons.
Who are you? What is your technology and how does it work? Who are the entrepreneurs behind it?
The Engage Social solution drives social engagement through a branded share button that encourages the site visitor to share more, view trending articles, and keep them coming back to improve their score on the social influencer leaderboard. The key value for publishers is they now gain the composite social identity of their top social influencers.
The team behind the company was responsible for founding Responsys, the leader in email marketing, leading to a successful IPO and then acquisition by Oracle to become the Oracle marketing cloud. The team also includes seasoned sales/marketing executives from the publishing world.
Explain your existence: What problem are you solving or opportunity are you enabling? How are you unique and innovative?
Publishers are facing a menacing duopoly of Google and Facebook changing the rules of their online business. Google is controlling the monetization of content delivered from search; Facebook is controlling the audience that is referred from social networks. Social media has democratized content but at the cost of publishers losing touch with their audience base.
Inspiration: How did you come up with this idea? How does your new tech solution reflect changes and trends underway in the media world?
Engage Social first built a social media marketing platform for businesses to leverage their employees as social advocates to spread the word. The focus was on distributing marketing content like blogs, press releases, white papers, etc. The team then realized that the same platform can be repurposed to help producers of large amounts of content leverage their audience in a similar way. The answer is a publisher-focused solution.
Every media publisher is facing the challenge of distributing their content on social media networks. But the rules and the costs keep changing. They need a solution where they have influence over their audience. They need a solution that works on mobile devices, where more and more content is consumed. They need a solution where they can control the monetization on their brand pages. Engage Social can help address these needs for media publishers.
Share some wisdom: What do you think are the most important trends affecting the media business today? What do you see that no one else sees?
Content strategy needs to be “mobile social” centric. Audiences surface content from the social networks and view them on their mobile devices. Publishers face an inherent conflict if they let the social media networks control this destiny. Their asset is their loyal audience and they need to leverage this asset on social.
What’s Next? How do you plan on expanding or improving on your offering? Where do you see opportunities for growth?
Engage Social maintains the composite social identity of visitors across publishers. The technology exists to identify audiences in terms of their social influence by topic, e.g. politics, sports, fashion, etc. The value to publishers of identifying topic based social influencers is significant.
Another growth opportunity is in the accumulated data of social behavior. This information is now locked up within the social networks. The opportunity is to make this available to publishers.
Jagannathan presented the Engage Social solution at the FUSE Media Startup Derby in September 2017. Watch Jagannathan's full presentation below.
Anand Jagannathan is the Founder/CEO of Engage Social, an audience engagement platform for publishers. Anand is an experienced start-up CEO, founder and technologist who has successfully launched five companies, two of which have had successful IPOs. He was the founder of IPO company Responsys, that is now part of the Oracle marketing cloud. His companies have spanned marketing, shopping, email and networking. Anand has a Ph.D. from Rice University.