March 13, 2013
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With the advancement of technology, mobility and social media, the shift from text to photo engagement has begun. Social media photo-sharing platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest, allow users to engage with peers and brands … saying less and capturing more — via images. Entrepreneur, Apu Gupta noticed this change in consumer engagement and decided to help brands answer the most challenging question on their minds lately, “How can we measure the effectiveness of photo-sharing and make a business case for engaging customers on these types of social platforms?”
Gupta believed he and his team had the answer.
In 2012, Gupta co-founded Curalate to help brands understand how their images resonate with consumers. The platform applies advanced image analytics to social media conversations to give businesses the most robust insights available for Instagram and Pinterest.
A year later, Curalate has developed a client roster that boast over 350 major brands and agencies including The Gap, Campbell’s Soup, Michael’s and Michael Kors and global agencies, including Ogilvy & Mather and Edelman. “We have brands that have taken things that have done really well on Pinterest and posted that to Facebook and they found that those were their most engaging posts on Facebook ever,” said Gupta.
“One of the things that’s been so powerful about Curalate is that the insights that we deliver around images have implications that go well beyond social media itself and start to impact display advertising, e-commerce, email campaigns, as well as social media in general. I think it’s really interesting for brands to understand what they can ultimately do by understanding how images resonate with consumers.”
Learn how Curalate CEO Apu Gupta found success after failure and developed a social media analytics tool that has helped brands cash in on the power of photo sharing.
||Apu Gupta and Nick Shiftan
How I Got Started:
Curulate is a marketing and analytics suite that applies advanced image analytics to social media conversations to give small businesses robust insights for Instagram and Pinterest. We help the world’s largest brands strengthen their stories and turn pins, likes, hashtags, and followers into revenue.
When we first got together, our team was pretty excited about building this company called Storably, which was the Air BnB of parking and storage. We saw the success of Air BnB and we felt like the same model of this kind of sharing company could be brought to the world of parking and storage, so we as a team went out and built this company.
We had fantastic press; we were on Fox, ABC, CBS, and NBC all in Philadelphia all in the same month. But we quickly realized the idea wasn’t working. We were just not getting very much traffic. In fact, we never got more than 3,000 unique visitors to our site in any given month. For a consumer company, obviously 3,000 visitors is just not enough.
A few months into that business, we recognized that [it] was just not going to be successful. Given all of the things we had tried, it just wasn’t going to work; or we just couldn’t figure out how to make it work. So we decided that we would shut that business down.
But our investors had already invested in us, and came back to us and said: “We invested in you and not just in your idea. We think you are a talented team. What do you want to do next?” We said, “Okay, we’ll get back to you.” We took a month off and during that month we generated 70 different ideas and tested a handful of ideas. Out of those 70, about 7 bubbled up to the top and we test marketed a handful of them. But one of the ideas that we really, really loved at the time was what became Curalate.
The genesis of that [was our observation of] brands clamoring to take advantage of Pinterest. They were all developing Pinterest boards (keep in mind this was late 2011 when we started to notice this). We saw that all these brands were trying to do things with Pinterest, and it felt very similar to what Twitter was like in its early days where brands were trying to get on Twitter, but were confused.
Before they could spend real money to grow their presence on Twitter or in this case, Pinterest, they needed to be able to measure their presence. They basically needed analytics. We had seen that story unfold before on Facebook and on Twitter, and we felt it was only natural that that the same story would unfold on Pinterest.
Once we started, we were really excited because nobody at the time was doing anything around it. There aren’t a lot of opportunities that you have where it’s a complete white space opportunity (a good opportunity) that nobody has really tried yet.
As we got into the problem a little bit more, what we recognized was that the issue wasn’t just analytics around Pinterest. It was that consumers were increasingly engaging with brands using pictures rather than words. As consumers started to speak to brands using pictures, what happened was that they didn’t use very many words and therefore all of the traditional social media analytics tools fell short because almost every single social media analytics tool is built around the ability to recognize text. Curalate is the first platform that was built around recognizing pictures.
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