Social Media

360i Q&A with LiveIntent’s Dave Hendricks

July 6, 2010

Dave Hendricks is COO of LiveIntent, a technology that helps people create meaningful connections on social media by answering the question: “Who do I follow?”  LiveIntent re-invents the rules of introductions across social channels by providing introductions based on common interest and level of engagement. To learn more, visit www.LiveIntent.com.

[360i]: Currently LiveIntent is very focused on Twitter – do you have plans to work with other social platforms, as well?

[Dave Hendricks]: LiveIntent has planned from the beginning to create a ‘Connections Server’ that presents and recommends the best creators of content, regardless of which service they inhabit. We started with Twitter because it had several characteristics that made it a good place to start. First, Twitter has an excellent API on which to build complementary services. Second, while the concept of ‘following’ was already established, the mechanisms for recommending the best accounts had not been developed. We thought that Twitter’s ‘Suggested User List,’ while generating many followers for the few accounts that it promoted, was not the ideal solution for most users. Twitter users, especially newer ones, are often frustrated and lose interest because they can’t figure out who to follow in order to make Twitter productive and enjoyable. We sought to solve that problem first within Twitter – the Discovery Problem – and then move on recommending the best friends/channels/groups/fan pages on other services like MySpace, YouTube, LinkedIn — and eventually Facebook.

Above: LiveIntent window on celebrity news website JustJared.com


[360i]: How will Twitter’s move to ban third party ads in-stream affect other ad platforms? Does this concern you?

[DH]: We grieve for our fellow startups who have developed a business and then had any platform change the rules after they’ve established a marketplace or a toehold. It’s Twitter’s prerogative to protect users’ streams from spam and just plain intrusive advertising that isn’t targeted, requested or even very good. Because LiveIntent is not in the business of in-stream advertising, we are not terribly concerned about this specific ban. However, we can probably speak for the community of app developers for the Twitter – or any – platform when we say that we hope that Twitter can define once and for all what is – and what isn’t – core to Twitter.

[360i]: What do you think marketers want out of Twitter, or any Twitter ad model? What about publishers, are the needs different?

[DH]: We suspect that what marketers want is actually quite similar to what publishers want from Twitter – an engaged audience who will retweet and amplify their messages, click on their links, and visit their sites all on the basis of the content that they distribute via Twitter. Both marketers and publishers want to use Twitter to develop long-tail relationships with engaged listeners, readers and buyers.

[360i]:  You’re currently developing a dashboard for viewing analytics and performance reports of LiveIntent windows. What kinds of metrics do you plan to provide in these reports? What type of metrics do you think are most important for marketers who are trying to connect with their customers on Twitter?

[DH]: Marketers and publishers are equally interested in understanding who their audience is, and where it is coming from. Today, Twitter doesn’t offer much in terms of reporting, and as a result the developer community has responded and built an astounding array of reporting and analytics tools that marketers and publishers can harness. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Our windows track and report on interaction in terms of views, clicks, follows and other metrics related to the audience acquisition challenge. One of the most interesting things we can offer our clients is reporting on the relative popularity of their feeds. In large publishing organizations, where there can be dozens of official Tweeters, it’s helpful for management to understand who is getting recommended and chosen. Plus competition is fun. Many blogs and news sites are measuring and compensating their writers by the traffic they generate. Writers who have a large following are going to naturally drive more traffic. It’s a good thing to know.

In the future we will also be adding other metrics beyond the follower/impression variety. Link tracking, while not core to our business, is one of those things which is interesting. Which of my tweeted links what most clicked on? This can be done with other services, but there may be a time when we expose more of this through the interface.

[360i]: What do you think of resonance as a general concept for judging the success of Twitter marketing programs? Do you think others will adopt this?

[DH]: Resonance is earned by creating a engaged, loyal following that retweets and amplifies your message. LiveIntent considers itself, by fostering great connections, a Resonance Factory. Our predictive engine takes its job very seriously: introduce a site’s twitter users to the accounts, personas and feeds that they are most likely to enjoy. Users signal that success by retweeting. Retweeting creates resonance. Unfollowing diminishes resonance. We love the whole resonance concept since it’s so core to our offering – making great connections.

[360i]: What are your thoughts on people/brand recommendation (like LiveIntent) vs. content recommendation (like Digg or StumbleUpon)?

[DH]: Digg and StumbleUpon are great services. However, with our model, it’s the ongoing success of the relationship – the long-term follow and long tail – which added up across thousands of users, which generates the recommendation. You can’t ballot-stuff our system and create a really popular account in one day. It’s a steady process that doesn’t lend itself to spikes. It’s probably impossible to game our system to create the ‘best account’ that everyone should follow. We think ultimately that people are more interested in the content creators than in one specific piece of content. A good content creator keeps on producing. People want to know who these creators are and want to hear more from them.