This roundup of hot social media startups was culled from a list of more than 40 nominees that were originally compiled on Startup50. Because narrowing a list of so many compelling startups down to 10 is both tricky and subjective we turned to crowdsourcing for part of the decision-making process.
Nearly 2,000 people voted, and the top 10 vote-getters were then scrutinized for any weaknesses. Eight out of the top 10 made the final list, proving not only the wisdom of crowds, but the wisdom of getting your businesses message out there effectively. The top vote getters clearly have made real investments in PR and marketing, and as a result, they understand their customers better, have tighter messages and have refined their positioning.
For more on selection criteria and weighting, go here. One thing to note, one factor normally weighted heavily--the amount of VC funding raised--is deemphasized in this roundup.
[Related: 10 Hot Cloud Startups to Watch]
[Related: 7 Hot Mobile Startups to Watch in 2013]
Social media startups just aren't as well-funded as, say, cloud or mobile startups. One factor is that no one has really figured out which business models will actually generate revenues consistently in this market.
Second, social media startups tend to be cloud-born companies that don't require nearly as much up-front capital or development efforts as startups in the past did. Most of these startups provide focused services, not huge, complicated on-premise software suites.
Finally, VCs are still a bit wary of this market. After Facebook's IPO underperformed, can you really trust even the leaders in this space? That perception will likely change over time, but a lack of funding certainly isn't slowing down the formation of these startups.
What they do: Provide cloud-based "Social Enterprise Performance Software," which unlocks employees' critiques of their companies, as well as their ideas for improving the companies they work for.
Headquarters: Leesburg, Va.
CEO: Edwin Miller, who is also a Managing Partner at (i)SAGE and who previously served as President and CEO of Everest Software.
Funding: The company is backed by $1 million in angel funding.
Why they're on this list: 9Lenses intends to change how C-level execs communicate with their workforce. Every CEO knows his or her company isn't perfect, but it's tough to get constructive criticism from those in the know--employees. 9Lenses' "interview apps" are designed to open up employee thoughts and ideas in a way that is positive and engaging, giving CEOs the chance to respond and act in a way that isn't defensive or conflict-driven.
The platform comes with more than 100 prepackaged surveys. Companies can also gain insights into specific events, such as possible mergers, and they can use the surveys to identify workflow bottlenecks, encourage data-driven decision making and facilitate strategic planning.
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