After weeks of voting, the results are in. This is the final ranking of CIO.com's 10 Hot Social Media Startups. Note that voting counts for only about 30-40 percent of the final selection criteria and companies are ranked based on such factors as the pedigree of the management team, VC funding, viability of the niche and the uniqueness of the product.
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This roundup of hot social media startups was culled from a close to 100 recommendations and pared down to 40 nominees that were originally listed on Startup50.
Because narrowing a list of so many compelling startups down to 10 is a tricky and subjective process, we've recently started to crowdsource part of the decision-making process.
After nearly 2,000 people voted, the top 10 vote getters were scrutinized for any weaknesses. If, for example, the company has a management team that is too inexperienced or a concept we just couldn't quite buy, I moved down to the next startup on the list (and on and on) until I found a more compelling one.
(For more on the initial selection criteria and weighting, go here.)
Even though voting is only part of the decision process, the wisdom of crowds has become more clear. Eight out of the top 10 vote getters made the list of 10 finalists. The startups voters favored were favored for good reasons.
Here are CIO.com's Top 10 Social Media startups:
What they do: SocialFlow's products give businesses and brands ways to increase audience engagement. It also ties performance goals to the company's social media strategy.
Why they're No. 1: SocialFlow finished at the top of CIO voting, they have an impressive stack of VC funding at their disposal and have an impressive list of customers.
Headquarters: New York, N.Y.
CEO: Missy Godfrey, who was previously a Managing Director of North Sea Partners.
Funding: $19.4 million from Fairhaven Capital, SoftBank, RRE, AOL Ventures, Betaworks, Highline Capital and a number of prominent angel investors, including Ron Conway and Mike Lazerow.
Why they're on this list in the first place: As companies develop social media engagement strategies, two distinct challenges emerge. During the initial phase of use, businesses must figure out how to publish effective content. Later, after companies have invested real resources into their social media efforts, they need tools to optimize and manage content, and to encourage real engagement with followers.
SocialFlow relies on Wall Street-like analytics to rigorously optimize social publishing and advertising. Cadence, SocialFlow's social media publishing platform provides the data-based intelligence companies need in order to publish the most relevant information at the right time. As engagement varies throughout the day, Cadence listens to real-time conversations and helps determine which of a company's messages is most relevant to the audience in the moment. The predictive analytics used by the platform also help customers control the frequency and reach of the messages.
Crescendo, SocialFlow's "attention buying platform," attempts to find out exactly where audience attention is going to be most convertible and most cost-effective in order to execute ad buys in real time. Crescendo utilizes the real-time conversations of a target audience to identify key words to target outside audiences.
With this approach, Crescendo can target underutilized keywords and win impressions at lower costs. To provide the highest quality targeting, Crescendo partitions the ads based on a variety of interest-based segments, rather than one-dimensional demographic filters. SocialFlow claims that by taking advantage of emerging opportunities to capture attention as interests and behaviors shift, their platform delivers high conversions at low cost with heightened brand awareness and retention.
Market Potential and Competitive Landscape: Competitors include TayKey, GraphEffect and Bottlenose. SocialFlow has an impressive customer list (Wal-Mart, Pepsi, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Gawker and Al Jazeera), a good amount of VC funding and are in a high-growth sector.