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Most Valuable Followers: How SocialRank Wants Your Brand To Get Closer To Its Audience

Today, the social analytics company adds Instagram to its engagement-tracking galaxy. You follow?

You tweet. And then you tweet again.

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Your Internet megaphone calls out to everyone–but you have no idea who you are talking to. Sure, you could inspect your followers’ Twitter bios by hand, or even take a sample size and extrapolate. But this is the age of Big Data. All the information about your followers is out there waiting to be analyzed–and SocialRank would like to do all the heavy lifting for you.

Most social media analytics tools teach you how your tweets and posts perform. Instead, SocialRank teaches you about your followers. In the year since the company launched in beta in February of 2014, SocialRank has been tinkering with its formulas to rank followers on Twitter–and today, it is expanding to include Instagram in its follower-tracking social galaxy. But more important than summarizing your follower demographics is SocialRanks’ tools to target specific followers based on criteria–to make followers, not the content they post, the center of your brand’s focus.

“Most performance tools tell you how much your content is retweeted,” says Alex Taub, cofounder of SocialRank. “Our approach was, ‘Let’s make the people primary and the content secondary.’ At a certain point with these brands, they are getting more and more followers and more engagement, but they need to take a step back and say, ‘Who are these people?’”

SocialRank lets you rank your followers by several metrics to determine usefulness, like followers who are the most followed themselves, or followers who engage with your brand the most. But there are two metrics that form the “secret sauce” at the core of SocialRank: Most Valuable Follower, which ranks followers by influence, and Best Follower, which balances Most Valuable with most engaged. Add SocialRank’s filters and you can find your brand account’s Most Valuable Follower in, say, Kansas City for an upcoming event or reward your five most engaged followers who have “chef” in their Twitter bio with your brand’s cooking swag.

That kind of engagement, the big brand plucking one fan out of obscurity and rewarding their loyalty, is the kind of personal touch that SocialRank lets you perform intelligently. But it can also be a tool to recruit. Taub recalls when a local blood drive used SocialRank to find the most high-profile people to promote their drive (they ended up finding an MMA fighter), then found local journalists, and then hunted down donors–all using SocialRank’s combination of sorting metrics and filters. In that sense, SocialRank makes the most sense for brands–but it still has uses for individuals, Taub says. He used it himself to contact journalists for coffee during a trip to San Francisco and asked local followers where to get the best grub.

But don’t take his word for it: SocialRank has a free tier for individuals. SocialRank had a premium tier when it launched, but they included the premium tier’s features in the free version upon release of SocialRank 2.0 in August. They have not yet nailed down all the features for the new premium tier, but it will likely cost $50 per month for a more evolved version of the basic account for brands.

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That is not the only monetization trick up SocialRank’s sleeve. The tool draws in a brand’s Twitter and Instagram data because it is all public. So why not check up on your rival brand’s followers and compare? SocialRank has been running such a service, called Market Intel, in beta since mid-2014. While big brands have quietly been using it to refine their Promoted campaigns–perhaps aiming in geographic areas where their competitor has a larger foothold–SocialRank will likely charge $2-$3 per handle for this, says Taub.

SocialRank added Instagram by popular demand from their brands. While most of the follower-tracking functionality is identical to what SocialRank built to analyze Twitter followers, one filter was added: hashtags. Twitter’s content volume is simply too large to filter via hashtag (at least for now), but hashtags have a strong culture around them inside Instagram–and they are very useful for discovery.

“Look at The Rock’s hashtags. It’s not that it’s normal–it’s expected. Hashtags on Twitter take away from the experience, but hashtags on Instagram add to the experience,” says Taub. “It’s a game changer for Instagram in the sense of understanding and doing things for your audience.”

With Twitter and Instagram in the fold, SocialRank is pondering the next social media platform to absorb. Vine, Snapchat, and Pinterest are all contenders, but they all have weak APIs. If they do not improve, Taub says, SocialRank will have to go after the other big fish: Facebook.