With the plethora of social networks that a person logs into daily, from checking Facebook to keeping up with Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and a multitude of others, Santa Monica, CA-based CHNL wants to be the go-to browser for social content discovery. The startup announced recently that in addition to pulling in content from popular social networks, users now have the ability to opt-in to aggregating their daily deals from popular providers like Groupon and LivingSocial. In doing so, the startup, which launched in public beta last fall, wants to be a one-stop shop for aggregating the social web.
Co-founder and CEO John Wander initially started the company two years ago as a platform to build and distribute media, working with musicians like the Thievery Corporation to enhance content discovery. In the process they stumbled upon what they felt to be a bigger problem, that of keeping up with the growing number of channels one needed to be tuned into to keep up with their online networks.
“We just saw this fragmentation problem that was really getting worse especially with all my social networks…we sort of set out to initially to solve that fragmentation problem. So we basically built CHNL to be a social browser,” said Wander in an interview with BetaKit. “What we’ve seen over the last 45 days is you can see what’s being said about a particular piece of content across all your networks…so the emphasis is to save you a lot of time and make it easy to get all your content from CHNL.”
The idea to add daily deals to CHNL was due primarily to feedback from the platform’s early users. As of now the social content browser pull content from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram. It organizes everything in a Pinterest-like manner, showing users brief summaries with both text and images, and also providing the option to filter by network and type of content, including articles, images, and videos. Daily deals have their own feed so as to not interfere with the user experience.
Another key component to the site is what the company refers to its “human algorithm” in which the platform determines what part of a social network feed or content will be most appealing to its users based on their interaction with the network. It also enables users to not only consume content, but interact and engage with it by liking and sharing content across networks.
When asked about plans to monetize the platform, Wander responded saying that there are a few different options on the table. It will start pulling affiliate marketing revenue from its daily deals partners and has plans to offer sponsored, promoted, and customized channels which it will roll out down the road, an example of which might be a specific channel for a conference or convention in which all the social media content relating to that specific event of venue is available in a single stream.
The company’s goal of being the go-to online content aggregator is quite lofty given that there are already a number of services that focus on the same thing, though often they’re more niche. There’s no shortage of news aggregators which include everything from Trapit to other well-known brands like Flipboard and Pulse. For videos, there’s ShowYou, Stevie, and Chill, not to mention image and photo aggregators like Pixable, acquired by Singtel, and Photopod. Wander said although many companies were doing fragments of what they offered, CHNL’s intention is to be the digital DNA of a user for the social web. Similar general aggregation tools include Bottlenose, which launched in 2012.
Not surprisingly, the company will soon be adding the ability to aggregate RRS feeds and will turn its social web aggregator into a social network in its own right by enabling users to follow other users as well as channels customized for brands. With the proliferation of how many networks any one person joins, services like CHNL will come to the rescue of anyone too overwhelmed with keeping on top of a continuous stream of content. But while they’re trying to cut down on clutter for users, adding another site into their daily mix might be more burden than convenience.