Customers are constantly snapping photos of businesses, whether it’s of a meal at a restaurant, a latté at the local coffee shop, or a sports team taking the field at the local arena. The founders of VenueSeen are attempting to give brands insight into all the photos taken at their physical locations through a new photo monitoring and management platform, which launches to the public today. The service, launched by Columbus, OH-based FlyMuch, gives brands a glimpse into all the photos taken at their location, pulling data from Foursquare, Foodspotting and Instagram, with Facebook support coming soon. The photos are displayed in a visual dashboard, and companies can use VenueSeen to share photos on various platforms, and interact with customers who snapped the original picture.
The idea for VenueSeen came from the founders’ experience building FlyMuch, a social travel recommendation site. Their goal was to pull together photos and information around a location to give a human snapshot of a place. Once they started demoing the site to businesses, the companies testing the service focused on the aggregation side of it, and started asking for that functionality for their locations since there’s often no easy way to search photo-sharing services by location. They decided to keep FlyMuch as a consumer-facing travel application, and build a B2B service for companies. “Bringing down content and associating it with a location is not really that easy a thing to do because they all have different IDs and all kinds of nuances around how consumers tag photography,” founder Brian Zuercher said in an interview.
Unlike comprehensive social media analytics and monitoring platforms like Sysomos and Radian6, VenueSeen focuses on one thing: photography. The service allows brands to register their location, either by authenticating an existing Foursquare location or adding a new place, and then it pulls in any Foursquare, Foodspotting or Instagram photos tied to that place using the APIs (when a place isn’t specified by a user, the service pulls in photos in a specified geographic range). Brands can then view all of those photos in a visual dashboard, and can filter by the service used to take the photo to view by platform. It displays the comments, likes and reviews associated with each photo, and gives brands the option to share directly to Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter. Companies can also get a notification every time a new photo is posted to their location. “It’s really about the visual marketing side of this, which thanks to Pinterest and Facebook Timeline adn Instagram, visual marketing is the 2012 wave that’s happening right now,” Zuercher said.
Depending on their size, companies can choose from three accounts – $20 per month for one location; $40 per month for up to five locations; and custom pricing for agencies and enterprise (all accounts come with a 14-day free trial). The company has been testing the platform with beta customers, including the Columbus Zoo. They have existing angel investment received while they were building FlyMuch, so Zuercher said they won’t be looking to raise funding anytime soon.
The team will be adding functionality after launch, including features to help brands immediately know whether the person who posted a photo is an existing customer, as well as how they’re related across different photo-sharing platforms. They will be looking to add other location-based services that have a photography aspect, including Urbanspoon and Yelp.
With companies looking to provide crowdsourced looks at their physical locations on platforms like Yelp and Foursquare, VenueSeen might benefit from adding customer-facing pages in the future. But right now they’re just focused on the back-end tool for companies. Zuercher said they’ll be looking to partner with existing social media monitoring platforms to make it an easier experience for brands. With tools like Gnip providing a wide range of social media services to analytics companies, VenueSeen’s singular focus could be a big roadblock to its success. While brands surely care about photos, it’s just one piece of the social media pie, so any service that provides a 10,000-foot-view of all their social media activity will likely win out. But VenueSeen sits at a much lower price point, and with Facebook’s recent billion-dollar Instagram acquisition, brands will likely be looking for ways to capitalize on the photo-sharing trend as much as possible.