Linksy, one of the companies that presented at last week’s TechStars Seattle demo day, is trying to bridge the gap for marketers between building their social media presences, and engaging with the people who follow them online. While other influencer identification tools like Klout and Kred allow companies to find influencers around any topic who aren’t necessarily fans of their company yet, Linsky focuses on helping companies identify and reach out to existing fans in their social networks.
Founder Adam Loving started Linksy after working with marketers and seeing the often manual and disjointed process involved with compiling lists of influencers and reaching out to them. ”We’re one of the first platforms that actually both identifies and activates influencers,” Loving said in an interview. “I was inspired by some of the marketers that I worked with and the hard work they were going through to drum up a list of people and reach out to them.” He wanted to create a way that agencies and marketers could easily compile lists of influencers, and reuse them for campaigns or outreach.
The company is in private beta right now, and is working with companies on a case-by-case basis. The company creates a report for companies, either directly or through the marketing agency representing them, outlining the influencers they have in their Facebook fan base and Twitter following. Clients can then create Linksy campaigns to reach out to those people, for example offering a free product or discount in exchange for sharing a review online, or encouraging them to share a blog post. They can include a call to action, for example posting a product review online, and customize template updates advocates can share on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
Influencers are notified about new campaigns via email, and every time they share a link online, whether to the product they’re reviewing or a blog post, it generates a unique URL that companies can use to track which influencers are referring the most clicks. Brands get access to analytics, including a leaderboard that shows which influencers are driving the most traffic. “That allows us to track in real-time and attribute the traffic down to each individual,” he said. “Today you send out this link and you say ‘please Tweet this’ and you can’t see anyone doing anything with it, but Linksy totally gives you visibility into who opened the invitation, who shared it, was it better when they did it on Facebook or Twitter.”
The company has been in private beta since March, and is now testing the platform with almost 200 companies. Right now clients include Zillow, which used Linksy to give away a house, and found that one influencer was responsible for 28 percent of the clicks. Loving said big brands and agencies who are already doing influencer targeting are the first target customers, but any marketer could use it to find evangelists. The company will be charging a monthly fee for access, which will scale with the number of influencers a company wants to reach, and Loving said the sweet spot is brands who want to do outreach a couple times a month, whether for a giveaway, product launch, or other announcement.
Influencer targeting is a rising trend for marketers, with platforms like influencer scoring platforms Klout and Kred gaining popularity over the last couple years. Through their Klout Perks and Kred Rewards programs, brands can pay to identify and offer free product or discounts to influencers around any topic. There are also other platforms like LittleBird, which launched in September, that help people find and engage with influencers, and earlier this fall we covered AdvocateHub, a platform launched by startup Influitive that helps companies reach out to their customers and fans for referrals and other requests.
Like AdvocateHub, Loving said that Linksy’s value is in mobilizing existing fans of a company. “Klout would score me on Seattle, on Ruby on Rails, but not how much do I care about Linksy or one particular company, and that’s what we do for the brand,” Loving said. ”We see influence at all ranges of the spectrum as valuable, but primarily it’s people who like you, and giving you an efficient way to reach out to them when you need them, because those are the people who are willing to help.”
With everyone from social media monitoring companies to devoted influencer platforms trying to help brands connect with their most influential existing and potential customers, Linksy will need to prove it can not only identify influencers, but help brands engage with them meaningfully, and provide robust post-campaign analytics to answer the ROI question.