We love start-ups; between the innovation, entrepreneurialism, and fearlessness, they define what the web is about. We were lucky enough to chat with Matt Myers, founder of Tidal Labs. If you’re not familiar, Tidal Labs is a platform that works with over 3,000 influential bloggers across an array of topics – from the popular to the more unique, like home-brewing – to create content that publishers and brands can utilize across their networks. Not only does this allow brands to amplify their message, it’s also a great opportunity for bloggers to be seen, in effect increasing their influence within a community. With the shift in media continuing to move from print to online, Tidal Labs is one to keep an eye on. For more information on Tidal Labs, how they feel about bloggers impacting traditional journalism and more, check out the below:
1. How did the idea for Tidal Labs come about, and how did you get started?
We started in ’09 when more and more companies were looking to sort through users online based upon their “influence.” We built profiling tools that learned about people based upon what they were talking about online. At first we used this discovery to find the best people to give free products to, and to track what they were saying. But soon we realized that there was great untapped potential in sorting through what people are already talking about online; food, fashion, music, the topics that people truly love.
2. How do you get bloggers involved in particular campaigns? Is there certain criteria that has to be met before a blogger can work on a particular project, and have you seen that bloggers are excited to be a part of what you’re doing?
The Tidal network now has over 3,000 influential bloggers passionate about a wide variety of topics. Everything from scuba diving to home-brewing. We first screen to ensure contributors are legitimate, and profile their interests, and influence within those interests. We then offer our members the opportunity to be in communities that are a good fit for them, and to have their content appear across the web. This is a great way to go from hundreds of readers to thousands.
3. How do you see bloggers impacting marketing campaigns, and do you feel they’ll replace the more traditional journalist even more so in the years to come?
We’re in the middle of a 5 year shift where publishers and brands are moving onto each others turf. Brands have been collecting Facebook likes, Twitter followers, and now need to keep their followers engaged. Major brands like Kraft and Coca-Cola have earmarked 25% of their marketing budgets to content creation. They’ve become publishers. Meanwhile as money shifts away from media, publishers have to be innovative about creating great editorial for less, and finding new streams of revenue through commerce.
Both of these trends mean that no longer is it the editors, the elite, who will be in control going forward. Bloggers (and all those talking online) will often be the source for even large media companies whose brands are becoming umbrellas to curate content. They’ll also hold increasing sway with big brands.
4. What do you feel is the biggest advantage in partnering with Tidal on a campaign?
Our machine-learning technology makes it easy to find the most interesting of what are network is talking about online, for almost any topic. Because we work not just with brands, but also with leading publishers, like Condé Nast and Bob Vila, we have the best network of passionate people, and editorial-quality organic content.
5. What are your future plans for Tidal? Any plans to expand into other platforms, i.e., Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.?
We pull from everywhere but are definitely looking to push into more outlets. We’ll be growing from thousands to tens of thousands of contributors, allowing us to reach into every topic under the sun. As we do we want to integrate with every platform where people are getting content; tablets, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr and every new technology yet to come.
6. As part of the fourth class of new accelerator First Growth, the same network that has provided guidance to successful tech startups such as Birchbox and 20×200, what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
They indeed do have some illustrious alumni, and an amazing set of advisors versed in every part of starting a business. The advice we follow, and tell other entrepreneurs, is that espoused by Paul Graham, “just don’t die.” (paulgraham.com/really.html) Startups are a long road. It generally takes years before you become an “overnight success.” This can be hard if you don’t have much of a nest egg to fall back on. So be scrappy, create multiple streams of income for yourself as you grow the revenue of your business. And just keep on it. If you’re smart, persistent and onto something interesting you’ll make a great life for yourself.