A new app launching at South by Southwest today on iOS and Android is betting big against the trend that marketing now is all about selfies and user generated content.
Tagly claims to be the first social platform dedicated to exclusively showcase content created by brands. Its goal is to allow users to discover, share, and collect the branded content they love, and brands to ramp up the amount of followers who actually get to see their posts.
The team, led by serial-entrepreneur Mark Alhermizi, has $2 million in seed funding from IZI Mobile, a venture builder based in Detroit. Alhermizi is the founder of Gas Station TV, a media company recently acquired by Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert’s Rockbridge Ventures for $200 million.
“Brands are focused on creating beautiful content that’s valuable to consumers, but most of it now is lost in our long social media feeds, alongside posts of cats and family updates,” said Alhermizi, Founder and CEO.
The idea for the app came in 2014 when Facebook announced a change in its algorithm that caused a dramatic drop of organic reach in its News Feed.
That meant the percentage of people who could be reached for free posts can be in a single digit.
According to Brian Boland, leader of Facebook’s Ads Product Marketing team, users with lots of friends and page likes can be hit with as many as 15,000 potential stories when they log on.
And the competition for visibility will continue to become harder and harder.
As a result, a great number of brand pages begun posting pleads to followers to turn on notification settings to keep their content from heading to the News Feed blackhole.
Tagly is Alhermizi’s reaction to the challenge these brands now face. Just as consumers sign up for newsletters and catalogs, he believes a social channel for direct marketing is something consumers would be excited about to stay close to their favorite content.
“Instead of wasted impressions, consumers select categories they actively want to follow: events, deals, news and trends. This gives all brands in the platform access to targeted engagement and 100% organic reach,” said Alhermizi. Although the initial focus is fashion and lifestyle brands, Tagly’s team says the goal is to quickly expand to other verticals.
On this first version in the app store today users can personalize their feed by selecting brands, and save their favorite content. New brands can be discovered in the app’s “Daily Collections” — a mix of the best posts from the brands followed with posts from featured companies. Users are also able to chat with one another directly in the app and share saved content.
Questioned about replacing the problem of a crowded social feed with another feed, Alhermizi says his goal is to prove that the social content experience can be revamped by opening control for users to filter their experience and move branded content away from family and friends stories.
Instagram – the current platform of choice for most fashion and lifestyle brands – has made changes in its APIs that made unable for apps to leverage its content. As a result, the Tagly experience is at the moment limited to Facebook content. But the team has big ambitions with the app, planning to soon launch an online dashboard to lure brands and businesses to bypass Instagram altogether and create content directly on the platform.
In the end, Tagly’s future will depend on escaping the death loop of all new social media platforms: brands might flock to it if it has users, but a user base might only grow only once brands endorse it.