I first spoke with Erik Ober, CEO of Booshaka, in 2010 because his startup, which started as a search engine for Facebook, had caught my interest. I expressed that while it was great to find out about what people were publicly saying about brands on Facebook, it would be great to also know specifics about the engagement brands' Facebook pages. I really wanted to discover who the most engaged fans on a Facebook page were.

Today, Booshaka ranks Facebook pages based on engagement and, as I had hoped and recommended, Booshaka identifies your "top fans" and ranks them in a nice leaderboard. In this interview, Erik shares about his startup, how their "Top Fans" service works, and where his team is headed.

"We find the most engaged communities are the ones where the advocates have been empowered and motivated to participate. ."

Social Nerdia: Who is behind Booshaka and what does your “Do the Impossible” tagline mean?

EO: Booshaka is backed by a proven leadership and advisory team with 100+ collective years in social applications, data analysis, algorithms and advertising. Our mission is to help brands and businesses drive engagement and advocacy on Facebook.

From the start, we wanted to create big, meaningful company.  "Do the impossible" is more of a motto than a tagline and its derived from the Urban dictionary meaning of "Booshaka." Since naming the company, we've been told that all the biggest internet domains have two "O"s in them -- Facebook, Google, and Yahoo :)

Social Nerdia: While the site initially started as a way to search on Facebook pages, it is now focused on Facebook Leaderboards based on engagement. Tell me more about this evolution.

EO: The first few iterations of the product were experimental and designed to test how the market would respond to innovations built on Facebook's Graph APIs.  In August 2010, we launched a version of the site which showed what was trending in different topical categories (ie Sports, Movies, Politics, etc) on Facebook.  We received some great organic press for the app and hundreds of developers and companies reached out to see how they might be able to leverage our technology.

After several months of customer development, we learned two things:

a. Marketers were overwhelmed with the amount of social data and interactions on Facebook and didn't know how to take advantage of it.

b. Everyone was measuring the success of their Facebook Page(s) in terms of total number of fans / likes.

From our perspective, social media is all about how active your community is, how engaged your customers are, and how much they talk about your brand or business. At that point, we set out to develop technology solutions for the next frontier of social marketing -- customer engagement and advocacy.

Social Nerdia: What kind of Facebook pages would benefit from adding a “Top Fans” application?

EO: Most business owners are familiar with the 80/20 rule in which 20% of their customers actually make up 80% of their business.  Given this simple mantra, we believe the "Top Fans" application is instantly useful to any Facebook Page. Facebook Page admins can use the leaderboard to recognize and reward their top contributors and drive business metrics. On average, we've seen that effective use of the application will triple engagement in your community.

Social Nerdia: Your Leaderboards are based on a point system. What does someone need to do in order to become a “Top Fan” on a Facebook page?

EO: We've invested a lot of effort into ensuring that the point algorithm rewards the quality of your participation. Posts, comments and likes are all initially worth 1 point.  Your score is then weighted by higher quality activity (on topic and engages with the community) and will earn you extra points. Lower quality activity (off topic and spammy) will actually earn you less points. Consistent activity over time is more valuable than repeatedly performing the same action, such as clicking the Like button on every post.

Social Nerdia: Is this all in real-time or does it get aggregated at the end of the day/week/month?

EO: Points and rankings are calculated daily and are aggregated for the current month. Soon, we will release a Rules Engine which will allow page admins to customize the leaderboard date range.

Social Nerdia: Does Booshaka provide custom development services?

EO: Yes.  Currently, we are busy working directly with partners and customers to build out the platform to suit their needs.

Social Nerdia: Any chance we will see a Booshaka for Twitter in the future?

EO: Possibly :)

Social Nerdia: Do you think Facebook is increasingly becoming a public forum as opposed to a private place for conversations with friends?

EO: Facebook strives to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.  We think they are succeeding at that mission while simultaneously giving people the privacy controls they need.

Social Nerdia: Any advice for marketers trying to increase engagement on Facebook?

EO: Our analysis on Facebook not only goes deep but it also goes broad across the whole network.  With an index of over 2 million Facebook Pages, we've gathered a lot of insights into how marketers can successfully drive engagement. We find the most engaged communities are the ones where the advocates have been empowered and motivated to participate. So, build your team of "superfans".  All of your social customers have the potential to influence their friends, but in fact very few of them do. Once you've identified the fans who are the most engaged and strongest potential advocates, use game mechanics such as recognition and reward to nurture and grow their involvement.

At Booshaka, we've created new metrics for buzz and community health.  Social data provides marketers the opportunity to measure their success and understand their customers like never before.  Make sure you're investing your budget and efforts in the right places and that your social strategy is delivering real value.

Find your Top Fans here, browse the most engaged Pages on Facebook here, and feel free to reach us via email: info@booshaka.com.

Copyright © Esteban Contreras. All rights reserved.