Recently we covered MusicHype, a Los Angeles-based startup trying to help musicians and record labels identify their diehard fans. Last week the startup launched its new product, The Appreciation Engine, which turns MusicHype’s analytics platform into a white label platform aimed at brands and companies looking to identify and engage with their biggest brand ambassadors. The platform is different from other social CRM platforms because it requires users to give their permission before a brand tracks their activity and can reach out with offers, discounts, or messages.
The Appreciation Engine’s CMO Annabel Youens said MusicHype decided to create a spin-off product, which shares the same team, because they were getting interest not just from musicians, but from festival organizers and companies in the media and entertainment space. They decided to spin off a new white label version of MusicHype, which would have a similar goal of finding and engaging with their fans, but would allow companies to have a branded experience from start to finish.
“Larger businesses who want to go for that fully branded aspect can create an account and then hook in all their API keys and then really start to identify who their VIP customers are in their space,” Youens said in an interview. “It’s more of a social CRM, and I think what makes us different from a lot of other social CRMs out there is that we’re getting permission from the user. The customer or the fan is saying yeah, you can have access to my personal information, and we really feel that that’s where this industry is moving.”
In terms of how fans interact with The Appreciation Engine, and how a client would use it to identify top fans, companies can add a branded social sign-on (using social network APIs and the company’s sign on widget) to allow fans to log into their website. Then each fan would receive an email thanking them for joining the community, asking them to add more of their social networks, which then gives the brand permission to track their activity.
The platform then tracks any given hashtags or brand mentions, and feeds that data back to the brand. In the back-end dashboard companies can see each fan’s “fan card” which lists their social networks, and features a messaging tool that lets brands Tweet directly at them, post on their Facebook wall, or send them a branded email. “These are the people who are actually talking about your brand all the time, and they love you,” Youens said. “In return for that, you can reach out to them and go ‘you know what? You’re awesome. Here’s a new pair of shoes.'”
Right now the pricing is set at $1,000 per month for up to 10,000 users, and Youens said they’re primarily targeting enterprise-level companies. MusicHype is still their entry-level self-service solution specific to the music industry, with a free base plan. The company will be raising funding specifically for Appreciation Engine.
There are already popular social login tools like Janrain and Gigya, and several social CRM players including Sunnytrail and Dynamic Signal that aim to help companies identify their most active or influential customers. Youens said The Appreciation Engine is the next layer that helps brands understand fans once they’ve signed into their site, and requires the fan’s permission. “It’s really around a social CRM that’s focused on private data,” Youens said. “At first people are like ‘there’s Hootsuite, and there’s Buddy Media, and there’s all these services built around what people do online.’ And that’s true, but it’s not actually permission-based.”
Right now the platform tracks major social networks, as well as music-specific platforms like Rdio and Deezer, though they’re planning to add more consumer services like Netflix and Goodreads in the near future. If the platform can branch out beyond just musicians and music industry brands, while also building out their pricing model to suit different company and audience sizes, they could build a solid base of companies looking to connect with their top fans. But with so many platforms helping enterprise-level companies get social, they’ll need to prove their differentiation in order to stand out from the social CRM pack.