Salespeople like to say that nothing sells itself. It’s a saying that might go the way of the dodo if current marketing trends persist—and they will persist, if companies like North Social, Moontoast, SocialFlow, and Wildfire have anything to say about it.
Vancouver’s answer to the burgeoning demand for an all-in-one digital media marketing platform meets all of the requirements for a classic Vancouver tech fairytale: the company behind it, Viral Network, is not quite yet three years old, is succeeding well enough to have a new and palatial Coal Harbour penthouse office, and the passion behind the project has propelled it through to a projected GA of May—10 months after the project began in July of 2012.
After My Viral Web became their claim to fame, Michael Graziano pushed for a consumer-friendly version of the tools they’d already created. The push has been forceful and effective. It launched in beta in January, and the four months to the full launch will pass in a blur.
“What happened was that we got really good at it—we put together a whole system, a whole network, and we now reach 250,000 investors across Canada, and about three million worldwide," Graziano told Techvibes. "It works so well, so we thought, why not take the system, put it in a platform, and allow small businesses to access it for their own purposes and connect to their consumers?”
It’s taking off already. It’s already used by 20 companies, and when those companies are marketing agencies, that’s quite a few companies reaping the benefits of Viral Network’s hard work. There are four tools included in the package: the Monitoring tool, the Social tool, the SEO tool and the Email tool. The monitoring tool is the heart of the platform. Michael Graziano eagerly walks me through it.
“It allows us to search through millions of mentions, all social media, blogs, forums, websites, for mention of a brand," he explains. "Let’s say you search for a mention of a noun—tea, for example. We can find how many people have mentioned tea in the past six days, and when they discussed it most frequently. You can see that the top network for talking about tea is Twitter. 28,000 mentions have been retweeted or shared. We also have a positivity algorithm, to weigh the stance of the product in the minds of the public—positive, neutral, or negative. We can break it down by gender, language, location, and if we click on the US, we can break down the mentions by gender and positivity by state.”
To monitor your brand’s reception, your competitors’ successes, and the industry overall will be the best way to guarantee results. The monitoring tool has formulae which combine with users Klout scores to determine how many of the key influencers in your target demographic are onboard with your product. The monitor tool is to find your audience; the social tool is the one that allows for actually handling your social networks.
The visual interface is spartan, but the functionality is superb. You can instantly follow your competition’s followers, just by typing in their name. HootSuite has the ideal platform for emitting tweets, but Viral Network’s innate obedience to Twitter rules and regulations and pursue your rivals’ audience gives weight to the Social tool. The SEO and email tools are less glamorous, but they could be tremendously powerful if used correctly.
But Michael wants to see the power balance shift.
“Business come to consumers. Anyone who takes advantage of these tools are going to get the low-hanging fruit of customers requesting things online," he says. "But there’s a lot of confusion. People who link up early on will reap the rewards for doing so. But once everyone’s there? Then they’re fighting for every single consumer, and the consumer gains the control. If I say I want a red bicycle, there’ll be a path beaten to my door by bicycle companies claiming to have the best, the fastest, the most ethically built. Once consumers are back in power, it forces them to be efficient. Businesses are happy, strong businesses survive, and the consumer is in control.”
Until that day, it’s a lot of power for companies. Marketing agencies can use it to micromanage their clients; companies can carefully weigh the costs and benefits of beginning a new venture.
With great power comes great responsibility—we’ll see how eagerly companies adopt the responsibility in full this May.