Armed with analytics, this WiSTEM graduate wants to boost your personal brand

March 24, 2017

A longtime news director for local television stations like WGN, CBS and Fox32, Carol Fowler was a firsthand witness to social media’s upending of the media landscape.

“It felt like, overnight, our captive audience in traditional television news went to having a myriad of choices of how to get news and information,” said Fowler. “Suddenly, I really didn’t know anybody under the age of 30 who were watching television news anymore.”

But although social media made it harder for traditional media outlets to retain their former audiences, many individual journalists were able to reach broader audiences than ever before. Fowler’s new startup, TheSocReports, has created a tool to help more journalists and other professionals take advantage of that opportunity.

Fowler left the news business in 2012 to work for Viewpoints (now PowerReviews). While there, she got involved with a case study on how media professionals use social media.

“What we learned was that a few people were using it very well, but for the most part people were using social media either awkwardly or for the wrong purposes,” said Fowler. “There was a lot of shop talk, it was very promotional and there wasn’t a lot of conversations with the public. They weren’t using social media for the things it’s best for.”

Based on those insights, Fowler started thinking about how we all can get better at using social media to our professional advantage. Her solution: an analytics tool that captures a client’s social media activity and nudges them toward conversation topics, visuals and hashtags that contribute to audience growth.

“When you sign up, you tell us who your peers and competitors are — either a direct competitor or someone you admire — and everything we present to you is in the context of what other people like you are doing,” said Fowler. “We benchmark our client’s progress, give them goals to shoot for and milestones so that it’s something they’re more mindful of.”

In addition to journalists, TheSocReports aims to serve other professionals who can benefit from a strong personal brand, like creatives, elected officials, entrepreneurs and realtors.

Fowler said the addressable market is close to 14 million people in the United States. And the analytics can be tailored to fit your goals for using social media, whatever they may be.

“Some people want to be thought leaders who are highly regarded in their field, while other people just want to drive web traffic or collect business leads,” she said. “For example, more than 90 percent of realtors are using social media to advertise themselves, their expertise and the homes they’re marketing.”

Instead of building a traditional dashboard where users check in regularly on incremental changes, TheSocReports delivers a different mix of analytics to its users every week. Upon logging in, the user is presented with 12 to 15 charts illustrating how they’re progressing toward their goals, and the analytics get more complex and nuanced over time.

Fowler co-founded TheSocReports with her daughter, Christine Klobucar, and the five-person team recently graduated from 1871’s WiSTEM accelerator. Bootstrapped until this point, TheSocReports is now looking to raise money to scale its team.

“It used to take us a lot of time to put reports together for our clients, but now that we have the SaaS platform in place we’re really in a position to scale,” said Fowler. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I feel like we’re in a good place.”

Image via Chris Peak, 8th Light.

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