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Noah Brier

Noah is the co-founder of Percolate. Before that he spent his career in and around the advertising industry. He has been recognized as one of the 50 most creative people in business by Fast Company and sits on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Social Media. He lives in Brooklyn and occasionally blogs at NoahBrier.com.

Milestones

2013: Year in Review

In trying to write up this post recapping 2013, I kept trying to come up with a way to define the first three years of a startup’s life. The first year is clearly about identifying the problem. We spent 2011 with a clear sense that there was a challenge to be solved in helping brands create content with technology (because James and I had lived it in our previous lives in the marketing world), but we still had to prove it was something we could solve and would drive value for our clients.

By the end of year one we had some great clients and a good sense for what needed to be done. From there we spent year two proving it. We started to build a bigger team and bring on more and bigger clients. By the end of year two (2012), we had seen real client success and continued to see momentum in the content space (especially from the big social platforms, who after Facebook’s IPO in May, 2012, were taken a lot more seriously by the business world).

Year three, last year, was about building out the business. We nearly tripled the business in 12 months (we’re now almost 90 people), shipped an incredible amount of product, and brought some of the world’s best brands on board as Percolate customers.  As a co-founder it’s a crazy and amazing feeling to walk into our office and feel the buzz of that many people working on delivering great marketing technology for clients. That our mission, to be your content marketing platform, has stayed the same only makes things feel even better.

But, of course, the life of a startup isn’t about looking back. So what does year four (2014) hold for Percolate? I’d say this is the year we fully establish ourselves in the market. We’ve learned enough (both over the last three years of the company and the course of our careers), to know definitively that we are solving the number one challenge in marketing: How to create engaging, relevant content on a continual basis without throwing an unlimited amount of money against the problem. We also know that we have built the best product and team to solve the problem, so this year is about making sure everyone else knows those things, as well as continuing to bring top-tier service and features to our clients day-in-and-day-out.

Finally, the last note here is a gigantic thank you to all our clients, both new and old. Their support, guidance, and ideas, have really driven our product, and more broadly business, through the last few years. It’s a cliche to say that without clients you don’t have a company, but it’s also very true. So, to all of you who are reading this, thanks for all the support. We wouldn’t have made it this far without you and it’s our commitment to continue to go above and beyond expectations (surprise and delight as Kiva, our VP of Sales likes to say). Keep being awesome.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

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Insights

The Future of Google Lies in G+Droid

Google is an amazing company. Beyond all the obvious stuff (world’s best search engine, self-driving cars, crazy computer glasses), Android has been the thing that’s been capturing my mind the most lately. But the point of this post isn’t to talk about Android (I’ll save that for another, longer, post about the pros, cons, and comparisons to iOS), rather it’s to talk about Google+ generally, and specifically its marriage to the world’s biggest mobile platform.

As we all know, Google has very publicly announced its intention to build G+ into a massive social platform at any cost. For a while I think many simply nodded and metaphorically patted Google on the head, as if to say, “sure Google, whatever you say.” However, as Android has continued to grow, I’ve noticed something very interesting: It seems that Google’s plan to turn G+ into a platform is to hitch its wagon to Android. With over a billion users it’s hard to argue with that strategy.

Specifically, Google has put G+ all over Android: Photos automatically sync with a private G+ photo album, many apps offer to use G+ to sign in, and, in its newest phones, Hangouts take over the SMS responsibilities, creating a unified messaging app. What you get is a platform you can’t help but use. And, since it’s Google, what you start to realize is that it’s a great product.

Where things start to get interesting, though, is when you start to layer on the idea of identity. This, of course, is where Facebook shines. They have established themselves as your singular identity platform. Anywhere you can create an account these days, you’re offered to create it using your Facebook identity. It’s only a matter of time, I’d imagine, until we start signing in at the DMV and authenticating at our banks with our Facebook accounts.

Google, of course, isn’t happy about this. They’d argue, I’d imagine, that they own identity just as much as Facebook does. Their argument, of course, is that all the implicit data you load into Google by way of your searches, locations, emails, and phone calls, makes for a pretty compelling picture of who you are and what you’re interested in.

What they’re missing is the explicit stuff. That includes content you share, the friends you explicitly connect with, and generally, the identity you project publicly. That’s why Google+ is so important: The company has already proven it is better than most at using your data and turning it into something really amazing (try Google Now if you don’t believe it), but it hasn’t yet become a place you think of as representing your public identity. The more they can leverage Android to bring people into the G+ fold and show them the power of Google as an identity platform, the more they can catch up to Facebook in the fight for who represents you in the future.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Community

Building Communities

In my time I’d say I’ve built two communities: One at my blog, NoahBrier.com, and the other being likemind, a global coffee meetup I co-founded in 2006. Here’s a few things I learned along the way that I think might be useful:

  1. You’ve got to believe in it: The difference between an event and a community is that the latter is a living thing. A community needs space to breathe and evolve and to do that you’ve got to be committed to encouraging that growth. You’ve got to believe in the mission and be able to plant the right seeds/push the right buttons to encourage the right kind of movement.
  2. Respond to everything and everyone: This is something I (used) to do on my blog and with likemind and believe it had a huge impact. Real communities need to feel connection and your job is to be at the center of that. To make that happen everyone needs to believe there’s a real person on the other end. For likemind that meant emailing back every single person who signed up for the mailing list anywhere in the world. This started lots of conversations and generally let people know this wasn’t just another networking event.
  3. Jump in and be part of it: This was true on both the blog and with likemind. To be successful at building a community you have to be part of it. The only way to have the empathy necessary to build the community is to be there with it.
  4. Make connections: This is something I believe in generally, but I think it’s especially important in community-building. Part of your job is to be the connector. That can be people with ideas or people with people.

Of course every community is different, but that’s the point. The key is to figure out how to take these ideas and apply them to whatever you’re trying to cultivate.

PS – While I was writing this I found a few blog posts I had written on the topic in the past:


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

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Releases

Photographer App 2.0: Introducing Instragram Integration

A few months ago we launched our first iOS app called Media Uploader. The idea was simple: Give brands an easy way to procure photos from employees and events. The app allowed anyone associated with the brand to take photos with their phone, tag them, and post them directly to the brand’s Percolate Media Library (without giving them access to any of the other functionality the brand wouldn’t want them messing with).

With a few months of usage under our belts we saw the opportunity to extend the app to solve another crucial need for brands. The new 2.0 version (which also comes with a name change to “Photographer”) includes the ability for the brand to access their Media Library on the go and post any photo directly to Instagram from the app.

If you’re a brand you know how much of a problem this solves. Because Instagram is still mainly focused on users it doesn’t allow brands to switch between accounts. This means there is usually just one “Instagram phone” around the office or in the hand of a community manager. If that person isn’t also the one out taking the photos there’s a painful process of getting the photos, saving the photos, and then posting them to Instagram. With the new version of the app the official Instagram poster can now watch the images stream in from employees and brand events and push them straight into Instagram in real time. 

The update is available in the app store now, so if you’re a Percolate customer you can head over and download it immediately.

If you’re not a Percolate customer and you’d like to learn more about the Instagram integration, or about our Photograph App Case Study with P&G’s Braun team, please be in touch. It’s awesome.

instagram_screens


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

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Insights

Android and Intents

I’ve been an iPhone user since 3G (I stuck with Blackberry through the metal-backed one). Generally I’d say I’m pretty happy and impressed by both the hardware and software. However, as someone who a) is fascinated by technology and b) runs a software company, I thought it was important that I got to know Android a lot better.

So a few weeks ago I started my concerted effort for an Android education. It started with a Moto X I was given to test, which I liked a lot, but since I couldn’t switch out my sim card I couldn’t really get to know properly. I started to try and use it around the house as a tablet replacement, however, and I really liked it. Of course it wasn’t made for that, though, so I went out and bought the Nexus 7, which I thought would give me exactly what I needed to get to know the OS (at least from a tablet perspective).

Overall I’ve been very impressed, but the point of this isn’t to do a review of iOS versus Android (specifically 4.3 Jelly Bean). That seems useful to do at some point, but for now I want to talk about “intents”. This is the function that allows one application to pass you to another for a specific action. The place you see this most is in the share intent, which allows you to hit share in any application and have access to all the other apps you have installed that you might want to share that piece of content on.

This, for me, makes Android feel a lot more social than iOS, which requires each application to hard-code in their sharing functionality (except for the Facebook and Twitter integrations which happen at the app level). This is awesome both from a user experience standpoint (I don’t have to copy and paste anything) as well as a developer standpoint (if you’re building apps you don’t have to make decisions on which platforms to put in/leave out and you can easily register your app as a share service and make it available inside other apps). The Android developer blog has a bunch more advantages to this approach, including:

Forward Compatible with new services — If some swanky new service springs up out of nowhere with an Android Application, as long as that application knows how to receive the share intent, you already support it. You don’t spend time in meetings discussing whether or not to wedge support for the new service into your impending Next Release(tm), you don’t burn engineering resources on implementing support as fast as possible, you don’t even upload a new version of anything to Android Market. Above all, you don’t do any of that again next week, when another new service launches and the whole process threatens to repeat itself. You just hang back and let your users download an application that makes yours even more useful.

Anyway, my point here was really just to highlight a little bit of functionality in Android that totally changes the experience and makes it feel, at least to me, like a more social OS.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Releases

Ensuring a Consistent Brand Voice: Introducing Brand Prompts

If you’re a brand, one of the biggest challenges you have is how to ensure that everyone creating content on your behalf always keeps the tone/voice on target. This challenge only increases with global brands, where you are trying to translate the tone across regions and often languages. If you’re a global brand manager this is the sort of stuff that keeps you up at night.

If you work at Percolate, on the other hand, this is the sort of stuff that makes your mouth water. When we spot problems like this we get really excited about finding a way to solve them. It’s just too important an issue to leave to training, PDF brand guidelines, and a lot of hope. Our Client Solutions team spotted this pretty early on and came up with interesting ways to help brands solve for this. One of the methods they developed was a series of questions that Content Creators could ask themselves before they published a piece of content. The idea was to find a way to translate the brand’s voice guidelines (which are generally words like “bold” and “thoughtful”), to something actionable like “Does this post tell you something you didn’t already know?” or “Does the image present Percolate as a fun place to work?”.

When the product team saw this they started scheming and came up with a way to translate the idea into the software itself. The solution, which we introduced on Wednesday at our Customer Summit, is called Brand Prompts and allows brands to set a series of questions for a content creator to answer before they are allowed to send the post for approval or out to publish.

brandprompts

Two things about this feature really excite me. First, you can immediately see how this feature will extend past just its original intention. We’re already thinking about rolling out platform prompts to ensure brands are creating content that’s appropriate for Facebook and Twitter and even campaign/pillar-based prompts that ask different questions depending on what kind of content it is. Second, it’s an awesome moment of teams coming together to create something great for clients. The Client Solutions team developed a really smart way of answering a brand challenge and the Product team took that and figured out how to make it scale by building it into the product. It’s pretty much the ideal flow for how the company should function.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Releases

Introducing Leaderboard: Content Analytics for iOS

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 10.04.38 AM

A few months ago we released our first iOS app called Media Uploader. It allows everyone inside the company to contribute to the brand’s media library by taking photos with their phone and uploading them straight into Percolate (without giving them access to any of the brand’s social accounts or other data).

Today marks the launch of our second mobile product: Leaderboard.

image

The idea is simple: Give brand leaders an easy way to monitor the performance of their content across all their social channels and websites. The view makes it easy to scroll through and see the top posts from across the world organized by day, week, or quarter. We wanted to create an app that gave marketing leaders a reason to check-in frequently and compare one region to another.

We’re super excited about this and will be rolling it out to clients in the coming week (if you’re a client and want to use it, just head over to the app store and download the app).

As always, if you’re interested in this or any other feature please get in touch and request a demo. We’ll take you through all the amazing stuff we’re working on to help your brand create content in an entirely new way.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Design

Percolate Style iOS 7 Wallpapers

When I installed iOS 7 on the day it came out the first thing I did was start to poke around and try all the new features. I quickly turned off parallax (was making me seasick), really appreciated the new control center, and checked out the new wallpapers. While there were a few animated ones (not sure who is looking for animated wallpapers), there were also some interesting patterns in there. I installed one and immediately thought we needed to do a few in Percolate colors. Since we’re working on an identity refresh (more on that soon), we’ve actually expanded our color palette recently, giving us a lot more to work with in the pattern department.

Sofia, who recently joined the design team, was kind enough to humor me and spend some time on some awesome patterns that felt right at home in the new world of iOS 7 design. So, without further ado, here are a few iOS 7 wallpapers for you to use at home. We’ve designed them for iPhone 4s and 5s to make things easy. I’ve named each (without any input from the team, so apologies there).

Hope you enjoy.

Shakeout

wallpaper5-01

iPhone 4 (Parallax Off)

iPhone 5 (Parallax Off)

Parallax

 Pyramids

wallpaper5-07

iPhone 4 (Parallax Off)

iPhone 5 (Parallax Off)

Parallax

Brushfire

wallpaper5-08

iPhone 4 (Parallax Off)

iPhone 5 (Parallax Off)

Parallax

Monster Mash

wallpaper5-09

iPhone 4 (Parallax Off)

iPhone 5 (Parallax Off)

Parallax

Snowday

wallpaper5-10

iPhone 4 (Parallax Off)

iPhone 5 (Parallax Off)

Parallax

Go forth and enjoy your new backgrounds.

Update (10/2/13): If you have installed these you’ll notice they’re not working quite right with parallax. We’re updating the sizes on these.

Update (10/3/13): Added parallax versions of each wallpaper.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Culture

Tools > Process

A few weeks ago I read a post from Rafe Colburn about dysfunctional engineering teams. We happily have a very functional engineering team, but one dysfunction from the post in particular has stuck with me:

Preference for process over tools. As engineering teams grow, there are many approaches to coordinating people’s work. Most of them are some combination of process and tools. Git is a tool that enables multiple people to work on the same code base efficiently (most of the time). A team may also design a process around Git — avoiding the use of remote branches, only pushing code that’s ready to deploy to the master branch, or requiring people to use local branches for all of their development. Healthy teams generally try to address their scaling problems with tools, not additional process. Processes are hard to turn into habits, hard to teach to new team members, and often evolve too slowly to keep pace with changing circumstances. Ask your interviewers what their release cycle is like. Ask them how many standing meetings they attend. Look at the company’s job listings, are they hiring a scrum master?

For a long time I’ve had this idea running around in my head that truly successful product companies find ways to “productize” everything they do. Products, after all, are far more scalable than process, which requires constant training and reminding (as new people come on board you need to train them on your process). We talk to clients about this idea when it comes to creating social content and using Percolate, and we try to live what we preach as well.

As the company has grown we’ve spotted a few needs that don’t seem to be well-addressed by the market and we’ve tried to build some internal products to solve for those. I thought it was worth a few minutes to highlight some of those as a way to explain the way we think about building a sustainable company at Percolate.

Barista

We actually first wrote about Barista back in March. It’s a simple tool for asking/answering questions that come up in the day-to-day life of being an employee at Percolate. The elevator pitch for Barista is Quora for companies. Whether it’s where to eat in the neighborhood or why we do something the way we do, it’s really useful to have a store of easily searchable information in the form of questions and answers.

Screen-Shot-2013-02-26-at-10.57.58-AM-copy

Roadmap

Every product company that ships a lot of code has the same issue: What’s on the roadmap. As we grew there were always questions about what was coming out and when it was coming. We pride ourselves on shipping a lot of code and it’s not easy to constantly keep everyone in the loop and while Asana is a great tool for keeping the product team on the same page, it’s a pretty overwhelming place to wade into if you don’t know all our nomenclature or where to look.

Hence Roadmap: An easy place for everyone to see what’s coming up next for Percolate. What at first was just a simple list of features and dates, has now morphed into priorities, comments, and even designs, enabling the entire company to stay on the same page. As the company has grown we have seen more and more value in Roadmap as a central place for collaboration and are actually making some big updates to make it a more important tool for the product team to stay on the same page as well.

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 6.23.00 PM

MITs

Last but not least is our newest internal tool: MITs. MIT stands for Most Important Thing and is a workaround  we’ve been doing for about a year now at our Monday stand-ups. Everyone would go around and say what they were working on for the week and then at the end of the week we’d check to see how everyone did. The goal of MITs is to  give a little structure to the week, focus people on their most important goals, and ideally help give a clear boundary to the weekend (hence the Friday check-in). MITs worked pretty well and eventually as the team grew it got to be a little annoying to write them all down. So last week we introduced a tool that sends an email out before the Monday meetings asking what your MIT is. All you have to do is reply to the email and it will automatically add it to the site along with everyone else’s. Then, on Friday afternoon, you get another email asking how you did. Again, you just reply (if you write “complete”, “done” or “crushed it”, amongst other things, it will check it off as completed).

[We didn't include a screenshot for this one because it hasn't gotten the Percolate design treatment yet.]

Anyway, all this is to say that we try to put our money where our mouth is when it comes to products over process. We think this is a message marketers need to think hard about and we see it as core to the sustainability and growth of our business long term.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Fun

Introducing Footy Tags

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 11.37.45 AM

 

A few weeks ago my friend Roger, a (not-American) football writer over at ESPN, Tweeted this:

I happened to catch it and thought it was an interesting idea and offered my help. It sounded a lot like a problem I had dealt with a few years earlier when I built Brand Tags. Over the following weeks Roger and I went back and forth on a few things and then this morning we launched FootyTags for the world to see. The idea is simple: Go through the 20 Premier League teams and write the first thing that pops into your head. We then take those results and compile them into tag clouds for each team.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 11.42.23 AM

There are three big reasons for doing this:

  1. It’s fun.
  2. We’re launching in London. We’re currently hiring account managers and account executives/sales managers. You should apply.
  3. We are starting to talk to sports teams and leagues about using the service. Between our ability to manage all your social assets in one place, our new mobile offerings and our ability to request fan images we’re seeing a lot of interest from a sector that has no shortage of content. If you’re a sports team or league and want to learn more about Percolate please get in touch.

In the meantime: Good tagging!


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.