What they do: Nestivity helps brands and individuals build communities with their Twitter followings.
Headquarters: Los Angeles, Calif.
CEO: Henry Min, who was previously employee number 18 at Razorfish and who later worked for Digitas, where he served in a leadership role on the American Express interactive account.
Funding: The company currently has angel funding and is in the process of seeking Series A funding.
Why they're on this list: Despite its clout in the social media world, Twitter is a big, disorganized mess in many ways. That's both a strength and a weakness. Nestivity seeks to bring some of the advantages of other social media platforms (such as the ability to create closed, tight-knit communities) to Twitter.
Nestivity allows you to curate topics and host discussions in easy to follow threads, rather than searching the Twittersphere one hashtag at a time.
Market Potential and Competitive Landscape:We're not aware of direct competitors for Nestivity yet; however, what's to stop Twitter or any number of Twitter tie-ins, such as Hootsuite, from adding a feature like this?
First-mover advantage could be a big deal here, but Nestivity will need to quickly secure the resources necessary to make that advantage pay off.
What they do: Provide a suite of cloud-based services that help companies discover and audit social media accounts. Then, once visibility is established, Nexgate helps companies protect their brand-run accounts and applications on the social Web.
Headquarters: Burlingame, Calif.
CEO: Devin Redmond. Before Social IQ/Nexgate, he served as the global Vice President for Product Management, Corporate Development, Business Development and Marketing at Websense.
Founded: April 2012
Funding: Just recently (on April 9), Nexgate closed a $3.5 million Series A round from Sierra Ventures. This builds on the $1 million in seed funding they previously secured from Windforce Ventures, Deepak Kamra of Canaan Partners and other angel investors.
Why they're on this list: The biggest problem with social media in the enterprise is that it's become a central communication channel for businesses, yet there is a complete lack of governance surrounding it. Many brands own and run hundreds of accounts on social networks. Unlike other communication channels and infrastructure, enterprises don't have visibility into most of these accounts, nor can they enforce unified security, compliance, and acceptable use policies on them.
We've seen plenty of instances of social media missteps blowing up in a brand's face, such as the Gap's Hurricane Sandy fiasco. Fixing that problem is a big deal.
Once Nexgate's suite of cloud-based services discovers social media accounts, it helps companies audit them and wrap policies around them. This helps companies protect their brand-run accounts and applications on the social Web. The suite integrates directly into social networks to help enterprises deal with social account sprawl, account auditing, account access protection, application control and content control across security, compliance and acceptable use.
Nexgate comes with preconfigured policies that regulate data and applications and enforce archiving. Two newly added policies automatically detect anything that may run afoul of new FDA regulations for pharmaceutical companies and FINRA regulations for financial firms.
Market Potential and Competitive Landscape: The social media security market is starting to heat up. Nexgate will compete with other startups, such as Actiance and SocialWare, and don't be surprised when incumbent security vendors move into this space.
Customers include Backroads Travel, Imperva, City of Memphis, Conrad Caine, Dome9, Porticor, Rosetta Stone, and WatchDox.
What they do: Provide a tool that measures social media influence, one that tries to measure the quality of a person's contributions to social media networks rather than just how frequently that person posts and how many followers he or she has attracted.
Headquarters: New York, N.Y.
CEO: Mike Fabbri, who formerly worked as a social media strategist for several luxury brands at advertising agencies Carat and Vizeum.
Founded: March 2011
Funding: $500,000 in seed and angel funding. Investors include Frank V. Sica and Allen Cutler.
Why they're on this list: We've found that often, a high Klout score (Klout being a competitor) is almost invariably associated with the most annoying people in a particular network, those who compulsively overshare. An alternative tool, one that focuses instead on quality, is therefore a good idea.
According to Fabbri, "Influence scoring is an inept way of measuring how qualified a person is on social media. It's easy to game and usually gives undue attention to celebrities, rather than people with true talent."
Prollie's goal is to uncover qualified people to friend or follow on social networks based on your specific interests. Prollie's algorithm evaluates users based on skill, efficiency, and usage of each social network and assigns a letter grade to represent quality and talent on social media, not influence or reach.
Prollie also provides a user-focused search platform that lets people search by interest, network, grade level, and location.
Market Potential and Competitive Landscape: The most direct competitors are Klout and Kred. The main reservation about this space is the fact that no one has figured out a surefire way to monetize businesses like this.
What they do: Shiftgig enables better connections between employers and job candidates in the restaurant, hotel, nightlife, and retail verticals.
Headquarters: Chicago, Ill.
CEO: Eddie Lou, who was previously a general partner with OCA Ventures.
Founded: August 2011
Funding: Shiftgig raised $3 million in its Series A funding in October 2012 from I2A Fund, FireStarter Fund, and Red Barn Investments, as well as prominent angels such as Sam Yagan, CEO of Match.com; Brian Spaly, CEO of Trunk Club; and Ken Pelletier, CTO of Groupon.
Why they're on this list: The verticals Shiftgig targets tend to have very high turnover. A social media tool like this could certainly reduce turnover and, perhaps, also reduce the costs associated with a high-turnover labor force.
We like Shiftgig's model and its target market. After all, most bartenders don't tend to find work on Monster.com. What seems to be missing, though--at least on first glance--is the kind of review/recommendation engine that benefits consumers of services like Yelp and even Amazon. Part of why there is high turnover in these sectors is that employees are often poorly paid and even exploited (and employers have plenty of legitimate gripes about unreliable employees too). If Shiftgig can shine a light on those problems, and then deliver that info back to employers and employees alike so they can improve, it could really have an impact.
We were initially skeptical about including Shiftgig in a roundup intended for a CIO and IT audience. However, it does serve as an example of just how disruptive social media promises to be in coming years.
Market Potential and Competitive Landscape: We don't know of any direct competitors. Heck, many restaurants still mainly advertise openings with a sign in the window.
Since its launch in January 2012, Shiftgig claims it has attracted more than 6,000 businesses and 200,000 job candidates. Businesses include high-end restaurants such as Graham Elliott in Chicago and Morimoto in New York, as well as casual restaurants like Chipotle. Other named users include Holiday Inn, Hyatt and the Hard Rock Hotel.
What they do: SocialFlow's products give businesses and brands ways to increase audience engagement. It also ties performance goals to the company's social media strategy.
Headquarters: New York, N.Y.
CEO: Missy Godfrey, who was previously a Managing Director of North Sea Partners.
Funding: $19.4 million from Fairhaven Capital, SoftBank, RRE, AOL Ventures, Betaworks, Highline Capital and a number of prominent angel investors, including Ron Conway and Mike Lazerow.
Why they're on this list: As companies develop social media engagement strategies, two distinct challenges emerge. During the initial phase of use, businesses must figure out how to publish effective content. Later, after companies have invested real resources into their social media efforts, they need tools to optimize and manage content, and to encourage real engagement with followers.
SocialFlow relies on Wall Street-like analytics to rigorously optimize social publishing and advertising. Cadence, SocialFlow's social media publishing platform provides the data-based intelligence companies need in order to publish the most relevant information at the right time. As engagement varies throughout the day, Cadence listens to real-time conversations and helps determine which of a company's messages is most relevant to the audience in the moment. The predictive analytics used by the platform also help customers control the frequency and reach of the messages.
Crescendo, SocialFlow's "attention buying platform," attempts to find out exactly where audience attention is going to be most convertible and most cost-effective in order to execute ad buys in real time. Crescendo uses the real-time conversations of a target audience to identify key words to target outside audiences. With this approach, Crescendo can target underutilized keywords and win impressions at lower costs. To provide the highest quality targeting, Crescendo partitions the ads based on a variety of interest-based segments, rather than one-dimensional demographic filters. SocialFlow claims that by taking advantage of emerging opportunities to capture attention as interests and behaviors shift, their platform delivers high conversions at low cost with heightened brand awareness and retention.
Market Potential and Competitive Landscape:Competitors include TayKey, GraphEffect and Bottlenose. SocialFlow has an impressive customer list (Wal-Mart, Pepsi, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Gawker, Volkswagen, and Al Jazeera), a good amount of VC funding and are in a high-growth sector.
Now, it's your turn to vote for your favorite social media startup. After voting closes, we'll rank everyone on this list based on voting, the management team, funding, viability of the business model, the ability to attract customers and more.
If you feel some startup was snubbed, you also have the option to write one in. If any of the write-ins get enough support, the list may get expanded to include them when we release the final rankings.
Jeff Vance is a freelance writer based in Santa Monica, Calif. Connect with him on Twitter @JWVance or by email at [email protected].
Read more about social media in CIO's Social Media Drilldown.