Shoutlet CEO Weaver Sees Big Future For Social Search

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shoutlet-weaverThough it's early days for Facebook Graph Search, some believe the offering has potential to redefine marketing on the Facebook platform. Shoutlet CEO Jason Weaver is one of those.

“From Page Likes to Check-ins, we will start to see these social actions carry more value for brands since they give different heft in the ranking of the companies on query results,” Weaver explained.

Shoutlet is a SaaS solution for publishing content, engaging audiences, and measuring social activity. The company is a member of Twitter's nascent Certified Products partner program, announced last summer and recently expanded to include 21 companies. Its clients include Four Seasons and Liberty Mutual.

AdExchanger caught up with Weaver to discuss Facebook Graph Search and the Shoutlet business.

What implications do you see for brands with Facebook Graph Search?

This is yet another reason for companies to engage with their audience on social platforms. It will be competitive as well as complimentary to Google.

Two different consumers looking for a sushi restaurant could get very similar results when typing a query in Google because of paid advertisements and the algorithms the company uses but doing the same query on Facebook would rank restaurants based on all of your friends and what Pages they like, where they have checked in, and photos taken. It is a whole new way to find a restaurant.

How does this change the importance of having a strong Facebook presence?

Where small businesses and sole proprietors were debating getting that social Page for quite some time, Graph Search has changed the climate to really make it not optional to be on Facebook and participate on the site. Every query a company is absent from, they could be losing prospective customers.

What is Shoutlet changing based on Graph Search?

We are paying attention to enhanced SMO [social marketing optimization]. We looked at the 600 brands we work with and leveraged the data we have been collecting all along to help assure that companies are encouraging more engagement so they can cruise to the top of as many queries as possible.

Companies need to consider the content they post to Facebook, not just that you are posting. Relevancy brings eyeballs. Companies that are just having a Facebook page for the point are going to start seeing that they need to curate the content and create a genuine connection on there.

Do you see social platforms like Twitter following Facebook's lead?

Earlier this month Shoutlet became one of the 21 third-party app makers in Twitter's Certified Products Program, and I do think that Twitter [is] out to own the data behind what they have collected and make it monetizable to advertisers.

While Wall Street is looking at how mobile will work and what the next step is, these companies have been collecting this data and building the way to better monetize it. I don’t know for sure, but I do know that Twitter has separated itself. For 2013 I am telling clients to focus on Google, Facebook and Twitter -- to really use the companies' troves of data to grab more eyes.

What is Shoutlet’s funding situation now? And who's the target customer?

We closed our C-round in June of $15 million. That brings our total close to $20 million. A large part of our funding came from American Family Insurance.

We fall into a few [customer] categories. We mostly call ourselves a mid-enterprise company.

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