Good News from Tue, 27 January, 2015:
Today’s digital world challenges companies trying to reach and engage their users across a wide variety of social media channels. This is where the Finnish startup Flockler steps in.
Flockler was founded in early 2011 when the use of social media was growing rapidly. A pilot product helped media companies like The Times to build social news channels and from it the Flockler platform was born in 2013.
In short Flockler enables brands and publishers to create social magazines, applications and websites which combine editorial, curated and social content. A brand can engage its audience by allowing them to contribute content through any social media service they wish using a specific hashtag.
Today Flockler employs a total of 10 people in its offices in Tampere, Finland and London and has a roster of international customers, including one of the world’s largest publishing houses: Penguin Random House.
“We have been very customer oriented from the start. The best approach is to create and evolve with your customers and to be ready to throw away products which don’t work” says Toni Hopponen, CEO and Co-Founder of Flockler. “It’s not always easy to do when you have spent months building something, but it has helped us to build a product that really adds value to our customers.”
A powerful platform
The result is Flockler has matured into a feature packed, flexible platform that can be integrated to a company’s existing website or it can be used to build a completely new channel that works on any device from mobile phones to desktops.
Flockler provides everything from custom design to email marketing and native mobile applications, all of which is built on top of analytics to give customers real time feedback on how well their services are performing.
“We want to help our customers to make marketing more social, more engaging and easily measurable”, explains Hopponen.“What separates us from publishing systems or social media curation tools is that we enable companies to build their own tailored social channel where they can produce and publish content under their own rules. With curation tools it’s not possible to combine your own content and social media content.”
In practice most companies build upon templates offered by Flockler. These can be setup in a few days and don’t require any special technical expertise. For more complex needs, bespoke solutions can be built in cooperation with Flockler or third parties using the company’s API.
From small to big screens
Flockler is also interested in expanding the reach of web content. The platform currently enables content to be viewed on large advertising displays and TV broadcasts.
A major Flockler customer here is Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle. It has been working with Flockler from day one and uses the platform to add social media content and monitoring to TV broadcasts. For example when broadcasting an ice hockey game, Yle can display real time or curated social media content on the same screen.
For Flockler this is only the start of how its platform could be used outside more traditional mobile and browser based solutions.
“We had one really interesting case in Finland last summer where [TV station] Nelonen and coffee company Paulig collaborated on TV advertising”, says Hopponen. “When Paulig’s ad was broadcast it used a live feed of Instagram photos from users applying a specific hashtag which changed every time the ad was shown. Our platform made that possible. It’s an interesting case of how web content can be used in a new context.”
Currently Flockler has roughly 70 long term clients and a number of customers who use the platform on a short term basis. Most are based in Finland and the UK, but expansion has begun with new recruitment in Tampere and London and new clients elsewhere in Europe and as far away as Australia.
“We didn’t have to make the decision to target international markets, that has always been built into the service. We are focusing on the European market for now but later we hope to expand to the other side of the Atlantic as well”, says Hopponen.
“Our long term goal is to ease the work of marketers and journalists. Key to this is enabling a kind of ‘360 degree publishing’ where the same content can be shown everywhere from big screens and ad breaks to a company’s own web site”, Hopponen concludes.