Note: This is republished from Siftery’s article about finding influencers and content research using Social animal. See the original post and comment thread by clicking here.

Social Animal is a content research product letting you deeply research top performing content for any given keyword. Social Animal gives you deep keyword insights with historical performance data and has a powerful influencer research tool. Very unique is, it’s InspireMe feature that applies a “human cultural map” to any keyword and lets you see unforeseen connections and associations, thereby giving you almost unlimited ideas to write about in your next article.

Kevin William David sat down with Naren, Co-Founder of Social Animal to learn more.

Can you tell us about what you are working on? What is Social Animal?

Naren: Social Animal is a content research product letting content marketers deeply research top performing content for any given keyword. Social Animal gives deep keyword insights with historical performance data and has a powerful influencer research tool. Very unique is its InspireMe feature that applies a “human cultural map” to any keyword and lets you see unforeseen connections and associations, thereby giving you almost unlimited ideas to write about in your next article.

Why are you building this? What problem are you trying to solve?

Naren: When we looked at existing products in the market, we thought to ourselves: “We can do better than this!” As a team, we have a lot of experience with Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). These technologies, applied to content marketing, can completely change the way we approach it today. Much of these features we have envisioned are in our roadmap. We are working on some of these ideas right now.

Who are your top competitors & how is Social Animal different from what’s already exists in the market? What’s unique about what you are building & why do you think companies should use Social Animal?

Naren: Social Animal as it exists today, we have applied Natural Language Processing to our massive article database. When content marketers use Social Animal, the very first thing they will see is that we have a keyword-centric design. You can look at the keywords an article is made up of, you can compare two articles and see what common and unique keywords they have (saving you a lot of time since you now don’t have to read those articles), clicking on a keyword initiates a search for top performing articles mentioning that keyword, etc. You get the idea.

Our main competitor is the wonderful BuzzSumo. They are a pioneer in the space and have a great offering. But like we said, our approach is the application of advanced technology to the content marketing space.

Who uses Social Animal? Can you tell us a bit about the different customer segments using Social Animal? What types of roles do your customers have at their companies (Sales, Marketing, Devops, etc.)?

Naren: Social Animal is clearly targeted to content marketers, content strategists and content writers. We are a pre-publishing research tool. Our features are directly mapped to phases when content is strategized, researched and written.

How are your customers using Social Animal? Could you share a few different use cases?

Naren: Our customers use Social Animal for,

Setting a content strategy: The whole idea of putting good content out there is to be seen as thought leaders and get long-term organic traffic. Given a keyword, it is important to see what kind of content works, what similarities and differences are between top performing articles for any given keyword, etc.

Content curation: Content curation in Social Animal is done with a very simplified workflow. Very fine grained filters are available in content search. These filters let users who want to curate content, to get to exactly the kind of content they are looking for. With built-in Buffer integration, they can add articles to their publishing queue.

Finding influencers: With a sophisticated algorithm, we are able to show real influencers for pretty much any keyword. We realized that authors are influencers as well. So, we have a huge database of tens of millions of Twitter influencers and authors who cover wide ranging subjects. Social Animal users use our integrated author/influencer search system to find relevant influencers to amplify their content’s reach.

Get content inspiration: Content marketing is a tough business. In an organization where content marketing is an important strategy, the pressure to put out good content with ever-shortening deadlines builds up very quickly. Covering millions of topics, Social Animal’s InspireMe feature show users, topics that connect from and connect to pretty much any given keyword. Clicking on any topic also presents a summary of it.

Competitor Monitoring: Once customers setup keywords they care about and competitors they want to track, Social Animal sends them a digest email every day with a neat summary of things they should know. These things consist of top performing articles for their keywords, potential new influencers they should engage with and any worthy competitor mentions on the Internet all without them ever having to log into the web app, which they can do anytime they want to see more detailed information.

Have there been unique use cases for Social Animal that you hadn’t thought of or expected?

Naren: Social Animal has a niche use case as a pre-publishing research tool. Nevertheless, given the importance of content marketing today, it sits in a critical path in a content marketer’s workflow. Some early beta customers did ask for the application of some of the technology we have to track ad performance and other areas, but we hadn’t thought about that. We also did not want to digress from the content research use case. We want to focus on this area and keep making Social Animal better and better for content marketers primarily.

Who are some early/key customers?

Naren: Before we “launched” Social Animal via Product Hunt, we had about 60 beta users. These were a simple mix of two types of organizations: digital marketing agencies with their own content teams and fairly medium or large size organizations with their own content marketing teams.

What were some of the biggest challenges while building the product early on and how did you solve them?

Naren: Fortunately, our team has a lot of experience building products that scale to millions of requests an hour. We deal with a lot of data and our NLP analysis runs real-time as the system feeds it with articles. So, we need both high-performance and highly scalable systems. More importantly, we need to be able to do that while keeping costs low. This is a typical challenge that a startup like our own faces. We have to keep our server infrastructure costs low while dealing with huge data and while being prepared for scale. But like I said, we are blessed to have a team with experience in both high-performance and scale.

What are top 5–10 products that you depend to run the company & how do you use them?

Naren: The whole organization pretty much runs on Slack. We did buy GSuite for email, but we mostly stick to Slack. At our scale that works better. We use Trello for tracking pretty much everything from development to marketing activities. Trello’s mobile apps work well and that’s a plus. Being a company that develops a content marketing product ourselves, we plan to use content marketing to bring in organic content. To get insights, to track competitors and find influencers, we are big users of Social Animal ourselves. Also, this dogfooding provides us with unique insights we can’t get anywhere else. Our whole server infrastructure is running off of Linode, which is a solid service. While we talk about the cloud, people tend to think about AWS or Azure, but Linode is many times a better option since they provide a pooled bandwidth quota for all your instances and the cost of computing, SSD storage and bandwidth is known beforehand. Also since Social Animal is based on an end-to-end asynchronous stack (mostly based on Nodejs), it is able to take on a lot of load with relatively few resources. For external infrastructure monitoring, we use Site24x7 and the brilliant Prometheus handles more detailed internal monitoring.Zopim handles chat on the website. They have a great mobile app to go so small teams can handle customers even on the go. We also integrated WebEngage to get feedback from the website. Both these tools work fine on mobile browsers as well.


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