Sometimes, companies can go from being penniless to being valued at roughly $400 million within a single year, as one company in this list does. That example wouldn't be the first time the realm of social media has hosted such explosive growth either (re: Twitter), but astrological growth isn't the norm.
Image Credit: Flickr, Pixel Fantasy
Innovation can take the world by storm in just a matter of months, sure, but it can also take years to change the market through a slow shift implacable as the tide. Whether causing explosive change or subtle, here are 10 startups that are impacting social media today:
Self-described as "like Twitter and Instagram for your voice," Bubbly is a social media platform that allows users to create voice recordings and share them with family, friends, or followers. The voice recordings can be accompanied by text or a picture, but the focus is the voice recording element, the differentiating angle for this social media startup.
Based out of Singapore, Bubbly currently has 40 million users worldwide, primarily in Asia and the Middle East, and has received nearly $50 million in funding. In 2014 Bubbly was acquired by Altruist Technologies, a large Indian mobile social networking company, and this year the company is poised to break into the European and American markets. In a visually driven market, Bubbly is proving that audio can be just as successful in a social media startup.
A huge aid to marketers, Kenshoo is the global leader in agile marketing software, allowing users to create and manage mobile, search, and social marketing campaigns. The company is bridging the gap between search and social data, connecting user search queries on Google, Yahoo, and Bing with advertisements on Facebook and Twitter, an incredibly useful tool for any company with the budget to afford it. Kenshoo also provides tools to analyze data from social media in order to find target audiences and optimize the campaign's performance.
Kenshoo is backed by Bain Capital Ventures and Sequoia Capital, among others, and the company produces over 1 trillion digital advertisements a year that in turn provide over $350 billion in annual revenue for clients. Kenshoo's success is no small matter, and this startup is changing the way that businesses interact with the world of social media.
Sorry, Meerkat, the crown goes to Periscope. Meerkat is a live-video streaming app released in February 2015 that allows users to broadcast live streams through Twitter. Meerkat caused quite a stir in late winter/early spring of this year, acquiring a loyal following and making noise in the social media world. But when Twitter noticed Meerkat's success, the company turned on Meerkat and acquired Periscope, a similar live video streaming app in development, in March 2015. Shortly after, Twitter blocked Meerkat's access to Twitter's social graph, limiting Meerkat's compatibility with Twitter and damaging its growth.
Both apps are good and are together pushing live video streaming into the forefront of social media this year, but Periscope has the more intuitive interface and the backing of Twitter, giving them an edge. In August 2015, Periscope announced that it had over 10 million user accounts, and this only 4 months after launch, a further sign that the balance between Periscope and Meerkat is shifting in Periscope's favor.
Frilp is the latest startup entering the social network of recommendations and reviews, but it plans to upset the models of TripAdvisor and Yelp. Frilp (short for Friend's Help) aims to spread recommendations the way they would in real life: through your network of friends, family, and acquaintances. Frilp uses your social network, your work place, and address book to create your Frilp network, in which you can then ask specific questions or look at your network's posted reviews for ideas on where to eat, shop, or explore.
The company is only in Beta testing, but once it's officially released, this app could change the way people approach online recommendations and references by reducing information overload and providing that information through a source you know and trust rather than a stranger.
A social networking tool gaining steam, Conspire wants to rectify LinkedIn's wrong: that LinkedIn has grown too large for its own good, making many connections meaningless. Conspire requires access to your email (it doesn't see the actual email, just who you are talking to) and analyzes your contacts and emails and learns how strong your connections actually are based on how frequently you talk to them. If you want to meet someone, Conspire shows you who to ask to make the introduction by following the strongest path to the desired contact.
The site also has the useful benefit of teaching you how to email better. Users can see their average response time with specific contacts, as well as the contact's response time to them, helping them to identify if they are being over- or under-communicative. Conspire is only as effective as the breadth of its network, and while the company has not released any actual figures as to how many users it has, there are over 70 million people in the network created from users' emails. Not bad for a company just two years old.
It's no secret that social media analytics is useful. It can help improve your business or even predict the results of political elections. Unmetric is an intelligence and social media analytics startup for branded businesses. The company provides several useful tools, from providing lists of successful campaigns to inspire clients with ideas to comparing clients' social media campaigns with those of their competition. No other service provides as comprehensive a look at what branded social media campaigns are succeeding and how they do it. The startup also provides real-time updates of clients' campaigns, so if unusual activity is occurring, whether it's positive or negative, clients know immediately and can take action accordingly. With branded clients like Toyota and American Airlines and agencies like Edelman, Unmetric is getting recognition from high profile clients for its in-depth analysis drawn from over 150 million pieces of microcontent on the web.
Flipboard is, in essence, a sort of Pinterest for articles and RSS mash-up. The site handpicks content from trusted sources all over the internet and presents them in a beautiful format, sorted by topic. Flipboard allows users to tailor their Flipboard feed according to their interests and also to curate their own magazines by "flipping" articles and photographs to include them in a personal magazine-styled format that can then be shared with other users.
Originally a mobile app that released in 2010, Flipboard has remained an independent entity and has amassed 70 million monthly users as of June 2015, a jump aided by Flipboard's website, which launched earlier this year. With this growth and a recent $50 million announced for Series D funding this summer, Flipboard is poised to go bigger with its content curation platform.
SocialFlow is a software company that provides analytics on social publishing and advertising and works with their clients to increase their brands' visibility and business by posting content on social media at optimal times when more of the audience is active online. Partnered with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+, SocialFlow is one of the biggest social media analytics companies out there with clients such as Pepsi, Walmart, eBay, L'oreal, and Redbull, among others. With an additional $5 million in funding acquired this year in July, SocialFlow will continue to grow and push its social media optimization through the rest of this year.
The banner on 500px's website reads, "home to everyone's best photos," and the banner isn't lying. 500px is a photo community of photographers and fans of beautiful shots alike. Users can follow specific photographers or like individual photos and see what their friends on the site follow and like as well. The posted photos are also available to purchase and use as stock photos for web, print, or reselling purposes (with different price points for each). Andreesen Horowitz has invested in both 500px's Series A and B funding rounds, the second of which occurred this past July for a total of $13 million. Pricier but with high quality than its primary competitor Eyeem, 500px is on the campaign to support high-end photography and usher in a new bar for quality photographs in a larger market.
10. Yik Yak
Probably the most well-known company on the list, Yik Yak is the app everyone loves to hate (and also happens to be valued at ~$400 million). In the past year, most of Yik Yak's coverage has focused on the anonymous bullying and racism that has occurred on the app, but these are always issues with anonymous content hosters. For those not in the know, Yik Yak is an app in which people can make short Twitter-style posts anonymously that can then be voted on by readers. The catch? The newsfeed only includes yaks from within a 1.5 mile radius of a phone's location (though they've sinced added a "peek" ability that lets you read yaks from other areas but not vote or comment on them).
Given the restricted location of the app, Yik Yak became wildly popular on college campuses and has active users at 1,600 US colleges today. The question now is can they survive the negative backlash the app has received because of its ability to host cyberbullying. Yik Yak has been blocked on high school campuses, and the company is actively working to make the app's content more constructive, but only time will tell if their efforts work. Whether people continue to "ride the Yak" or not, the app has shown how popular location-based posting is, for sports arenas and college campuses alike.