Social media content – such as tweets, photos and videos – is increasingly desirable in the communications of companies and brands. The Tampere-based start-up Flockler has developed a social publishing platform that makes it easier to combine editorial and social content.
Lots of work, perseverance and sometimes a bit of luck. That is how Toni Hopponen convinces customers and investors of the ideas and competence of a small start-up. Hopponen is the CEO of Tampere-based Flockler and one of its three co-founders.
– Before, in addition to joint work projects, the three of us were connected by the desire to work at a company with a scalable product. And that is what Flockler is now, says Hopponen.
Flockler is a social publishing platform that allows users to combine their own content and content from social media, such as tweets, photos and videos. The publication can be a separate website online, but also something on the big screen at a football game, a mobile app or something integrated into the customer’s product.
The published social media content can be hand-picked or you can set rules to filter them for automatic publishing. This allows the audience to be directly involved in creating the publication. Social media has grown enormously in just a few years, and companies increasingly want to utilise it.
– These days, we do most of our work with brands and companies. For them, involving the audience in content production is also building a relationship with customers and consumers, Hopponen says.
Toni Hopponen considers the Initiative UK website as one of Flockler’s best showings so far. It was created when an advertising firm that was part of an international corporate group wanted a new, more interesting and more animated website.
– Among other things, our platform enables the company’s employees to easily participate. When someone visits a customer or event, for example, and wants to share something interesting, they can post a photo or tweet and it will be updated on the site.
In Finland, for example, the Finnish broadcasting company Yle’s new opening, Kioski operates on the Flockler platform. It has started to participate in social media channels with high visibility, highlighting social media content and stories from other media online. “Kioski is news in a whole new way,” the creators say.
– Yle is more than just a customer for us; it is a strategic partner with whom we have brainstormed and developed new publications and publisher tools, Hopponen says.
Working on things together with the customers has been Flockler’s operational model since the beginning. In the early days of the company, its founders worked together with Finnish media houses to create a product through which their customers could participate in creating publications. Then they went to find out whether the product would sell on bigger markets.
– Backpacks on and off to London we went, even though we did not have any existing contacts there. We found the right people by participating in events and joining business accelerators, Hopponen says.
London also made it clear that the product at the time was pretty good, but not scalable. So, they started building a new version and dumped the old one. According to Hopponen, developing and discarding is the key to making it, but a start-up company should not try to refine its products by themselves.
– First, you must ask the customers what they want. Then, test the demand with light prototypes and bravely venture onto new markets to seek different perspectives and opinions, Hopponen sums up a start-up’s path to the world.
Today, Flockler employs a total of 14 people, four in London and 10 in Tampere. Correspondingly, they have customers in Finland and Great Britain, but also in other parts of Europe and even Australia. Internationalism has been part of the company since the beginning but, according to Toni Hopponen, it is a Tampere-based company at heart.
– For recruitment purposes, Tampere is the ideal city for us because the local universities are an amazing channel for it. In the beginning, the reasonable office costs in Tampere were also a major advantage, Hopponen says.
Flockler’s social publication platform has been properly commercially available for a few years, and it is constantly being advanced. In social media, change is a built-in characteristic.
– We must be proactively alert all the time because the usage, features and rules of social media change. Without a doubt, there will come a day when Twitter or Facebook are no longer important, but something else is hot instead, says Hopponen.
P.S. Did you know that www.tampereallbrightmagazine.fi operates on the Flockler platform?
Read the article in Finnish: http://tampereenseudunvetovoima.fi/artikkelit/reppu-selkaan-ja-lontooseen