TL; DR: Trufan, a Canadian tech startup, empowers brands and influencers to nurture fruitful relationships with their audiences. The company’s flagship management platform helps users build up their communities, boost advocacy, and even make direct sales. And, through the recent acquisition of SocialRank, it is providing solutions for robust social media analytics. Moving forward, Trufan aims to remain at the forefront of segmentation and engagement while continuously improving its products.
In recent years, marketers have successfully thwarted consumer skepticism with a new breed of spokesperson: the social media influencer. With the help of these trusted and independent experts, brands can trade in traditional, intrusive advertising for more authentic forms of publicity.
But everything shiny and new eventually falls victim to rust — and influencer marketing is no exception. The industry, projected to be worth $15 billion by 2022, is now at risk of succumbing to a new threat: influencer fatigue, a growing aversion to sponsored content.
Of course, not all hope is lost. With the right tools, creators, influencers, and small to large businesses alike can explore fresh ways to build online relationships that increase loyalty.
Trufan, for example, offers an audience management platform that helps brands and influencers grow their social community, distribute viral content, and sell directly to their top fans. The platform allows users to acquire, engage, and retain current potential customers at scale through data-driven insights, personalized rewards, and promotions.
The key, according to Scott Berty, Chief Growth Officer at Trufan, is detailed information.
“Influencers are important to the future of brands, but they can be overused — consumers are starting to distrust them because they see so many sponsored posts,” Scott told us. “In that respect, granular data has become more useful in moving from one-off influencer campaigns to brand ambassador programs.”
With Trufan, users can effectively interact with engaged fans, providing authentic, customized experiences at scale. And, through the company’s recent acquisition of SocialRank, it is providing solutions for top-notch audience segmentation and analytics. Ultimately, Trufan aims to remain at the forefront of the influencer market while continuously improving its products.
On a Mission to Maximize Influencer Value and Simplify Engagement
Trufan, based in Canada, was founded in 2018 by Swish Goswami and Aanikh Kler. Prior to that, Swish was working with a business partner on Dunk, a sports media company that was establishing a growing network of accounts focused on basketball.
During that business venture, a social media marketer representing professional basketball player Chris Paul approached Swish and his partner. Paul was traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Houston Rockets in 2017 and was looking to build a community presence around engaged Houston fans via a reward program.
Scott told us that, at the time, the influencer market was saturated with two prominent business models. At one end of the spectrum, providers were offering Google-like search capabilities for influencers. At the other were network-driven influencer brokers. But there was no product that created opportunities for individuals and brands to discover, engage, and reward their top fans on social media.
“There wasn’t anything like that on the market at the time, and that’s where the whole idea for Trufan came together,” Scott said. “The idea was to make it easy for brands to identify influencers and micro-influencers and provide rewards to their fan base.”
Today, Trufan helps brands from a range of sectors — including professional sports, hospitality, ecommerce, retail, marketing, and even the budding cannabis industry — to activate grassroots communities of superfans and micro-influencers.
The platform processes the social activity and engagement patterns of followers to highlight people with characteristics that are similar to those of top fans, which helps grow audiences.
Once identified, users can filter fans by location, following, and general sentiment — and use that information to send discount codes, promotional links, and messages of appreciation, among other communications.
Discover Better, More Aligned Influencers & Create Unique Experiences
Ultimately, Scott said Trufan helps brands increase efficiencies, boost ROI, and make more informed decisions.
“In terms of tangible benefits, Trufan covers all phases of influencer marketing,” he said. “The platform gives brands the power to discover high-quality influencers and vet them more thoroughly than they would be able to with a scroll through an Instagram feed.”
Trufan’s social audience discovery feature can pull a database of top fans from any social media profile that can be segmented further by engagement or influence. This social intelligence is vital to using data-driven decision-making to boost sales and marketing objectives.
In addition to its platform, Trufan also empowers brands to create memorable fan experiences, from concept to production and distribution. The company works closely with customers to plan campaign objectives, identify content strategies that have worked in the past, and source fans using a proprietary algorithm.
The company’s team of videographers will then collaborate with a brand’s fans to produce a video. For example, Trufan worked with Round13 Capital to surprise a 12-year-old Nike fan with a free pair of shoes.
After capturing footage, Trufan’s team of editors work directly with a company’s content and social media teams to optimize the video for performance. At the distribution stage, Trufan pushes content through partner channels on Instagram and Twitter. It uses data from its platform to ensure content reaches fans that will rally behind the messaging.
“From a brand perspective, I am very excited about the potential that Trufan offers,” said Karen O’Brien, Former Vice President, Global Social Media at Western Union, in a testimonial. “It will enable brands to leverage the highly valuable intersection between influencers and their fans in a unique way to understand consumers better, gain product insights and product offers, and of course, engage directly with fans.”
SocialRank: A Recently-Acquired Audience Segmentation Tool
Once a campaign is complete, Trufan provides the tools brands need to measure performance and progress via SocialRank, a social media analytics platform. Trufan acquired SocialRank in November 2019 to augment its audience management platform with top-notch audience segmentation capabilities.
“Whereas Trufan focused on fan engagement and has a deeper view on a customer’s audience, SocialRank is the best-in-class product for audience segmentation and has a priority on filtering/comparing audiences,” Swish stated in a November 19, 2019, press release. “It’s Google for audience analytics.”
The NYC-based company, founded in 2014 by Alex Taub and Michael Schonfeld, has profited audience analytics for thousands of highly recognizable brands, including Samsung US, Netflix, NBA, NFL, Live Nation, and L’Oreal. For now, SocialRank will continue to operate as a standalone product with Alex and Michael serving as strategic advisors for Trufan.
Scott said SocialRank and Trufan are a perfect match in many ways. For example, one of Trufan’s unique selling points is its ability to gather data from numerous sources. “If brands want to create a list of engaged fans or influencers they were working with, they can do so,” he said. “If they want to monitor negative engagements with competing brands to turn bad situations into potential lifetime customers on their end, they can do so.”
Likewise, SocialRank doesn’t limit customers to particular social media data sources, such as their own Instagram or Twitter accounts. “With SocialRank, users can create reports and analytics for any public asset that’s out there — they can find information on a broad range of social media users,” Scott said.
Operating at the Cutting Edge of Segmentation and Analytics
Trufan has a bright future ahead. The company raised $400,000 in venture funding late last year, just in time for its second anniversary. It plans to use those gains to integrate with the social media management platform Hootsuite and produce an original content series around fandom with Best Crosses Studios.
In the meantime, Scott said Trufan is focused on continuing to offer customers a comprehensive social intelligence platform.
“SocialRank has given us a tremendous opportunity in 2020 to stand at the forefront of audience segmentation and analytics for social media,” he said. “In the short-term, we will focus on taking care of SocialRank’s existing customer base while improving the product and hopefully integrating it with what we have built over the last two years.”