AideRSS CEO Carol Leaman to speak at Third Tuesday Toronto

postrank-090129How does a social media startup not just survive, but continue to grow in the current economic conditions? Carol Leaman, the CEO of AideRSS, the company behind PostRank, will tell us how when she appears at Third Tuesday Toronto on February 17.

AideRSS is an interesting company, both for its innovative PostRank approach to measuring engagement with social media and for the fact that it continues an aggressive growth strategy at a time when others are hoping merely to survive. And with its recent second round financing announcement, it appears to have adequate runway to achieve its objectives.

AideRSS recently announced that it is expanding its PostRank service to offer feed analytics for online content publishers. That’s the all-important data that online publishers use to gain insight into how their RSS feeds are being received and used. The stuff that traditional Web Analytics can’t give you.

postrank-feedanalytics-beta-090129In doing this, PostRank is taking on Google, which recently acquired Feedburner, the dominant feed analytics provider. (disclosure: I use Feedburner for ProPR and all of the Thornley Fallis and 76design-produced blogs and RSS feeds.)

Taking on Google. That’s not something for the timid.

AideRSS’  development is being masterminded by CEO Carol Leaman and co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Ilya Grigorik.  Last Autumn, Ilya, along with AideRSS’ VP Development Jim Murphy and Community Manager Melanie Baker, told Third Tuesday about how the company is developing its core PostRank technology and building a community around it.

On February 17, Carol will provide the business perspective on the PostRank story. What does it take for a startup to survive and thrive in this environment? What does it take to nail down a second round of funding when investors are running for the hills? How does a company build a business around social media and feed analytics?

ThirdTuesdayTorontoSo, if you’re interested in gaining some insight into how a company can find an opportunity in social media, develop a technology that meets a real need and and monetize it, this should be an interesting session.

You can register to attend on the Third Tuesday Toronto meetup site.

As always over the past two years, thanks are due to our national sponsor, CNWGroup, whose support keeps Third Tuesday a free community-based event.

More about PostRank and AideRSS:

Marshall Kirkpatrick has a good post on ReadWrite Web about PostRank’s run at Feedburner

Melanie Baker talks about the role of community manager at AideRSS

AideRSS’ Journey from Founders’ Dream to Professional Leadership

Ilya Grigorik explains PostRank

AideRSS’ PostRank Measures Engagement

AideRSS at DemoCampToronto14

Meet the AideRSS team at Third Tuesday Toronto

AideRSSSince launching in July 2007, Waterloo-based AideRSS has been generating positive buzz among bloggers and analysts.

AideRSS’ PostRank algorithm provides bloggers and readers with a means to identify the content with which others have become most engaged. This saves readers time, enabling them to filter for only the most engaging content. It also helps content authors to focus on content that their readers want to have.

Now, Third Tuesday Toronto participants have a chance to meet and hear from the people behind AideRSS. Ilya Grigorik, Co-founder and Chief Technology Office, Jim Murphy, VP Development, and Melanie Baker, AideRSS’ Community Manager,  will speak at Third Tuesday Toronto on September 16.

Third TuesdayIlya, Jim and Melanie will talk about how they are building a company around Ilya’s PostRank concept. Melanie will talk with us about the approach she has taken to building and sustaining a community of users. And Jim and Ilya will give us insight into their plans for future growth and innovation.

I’m very big on AideRSS. I think that PostRank could well supply a significant piece of the social media measurement puzzle. And I’m looking forward to this session.

If you happen to be in Toronto on September 16, register online to attend Third Tuesday with AideRSS. Third Tuesdays are always a great place to meet and talk with others who are interested in new developments in social media. And the session with AideRSS will give us a chance to talk with the people behind one of the most promising Canadian social media startups.

Thanks to our Sponsor, CNW

As they have for the past year, CNW Group is once again underwriting the cost of the sound system. This is our largest cost item and CNW’s support enables us to keep Third Tuesday a free community-based event. Thank you CNW!

Read these posts for more background on AideRSS

Melanie Baker talks about the role of community manager at AideRSS

AideRSS’ Journey from Founders’ Dream to Professional Leadership

Ilya Grigorik explains PostRank

AideRSS’ PostRank Measures Engagement

AideRSS at DemoCampToronto14

Melanie Baker talks about the role of Community Manager at AideRSS

More and more companies are adding Community Managers to their executive ranks.

Melanie BakerMelanie Baker, joined AideRSS as Community Manager earlier this year. During my recent visit to AideRSS in Waterloo, Melanie talked with me about the Community Manager role.

Melle sees the community manager providing a bridge between the different functions within a company and its community of users. In doing this, her first objective is to help users develop a sense of community with the company and one another. “Having a users base doesn’t necessarily mean you have a community,” Melanie pointed out. “If you can get a community going, then you know you are on the right track.”

Melanie has been impressed with the AideRSS users she’s met so far, “with the amount of passion they have, what they’re willing to do for you, the lengths they’re willing to go to try to make something work.” She notes that such dedicated users are valuable to a company like AideRSS. “You’d have to have an entire Quality Assurance department for that kind of stuff or massive amounts of developers hours to solve some of those things.”

Helping these supportive users also has a reputational benefit to the company. Says Melanie, “If you listen to them, if you try to help them solve a problem or get them up and running … they become passionate. And as soon as they become passionate, they help evangelize for you. … The word of mouth of your friends is the most powerful influence there is. It’s fantastic.”

How does Melle connect with the community? “I have to be one of those early adopters who jumps on everything.” She writes for the AideRSS blog, maintains an AideRSS Facebook page and two Twitter accounts – AideRSS and Melle. She’s also a big fan of Get Satisfaction, where AideRSS maintains an active support forum.  “It’s really effective for connecting with people, whether they have a question, just want to tell us something, or have a problem.”

And as new social apps appear, Melle believes she needs to “try them out, see if people are migrating there, and see if they want to talk to you there. If that’s where people are going to hang out, then that’s where you need to be.”

On a day to day basis, Melle sees different social apps working together in combination. “Twitter is easy for someone to ask me a quick question or mention a problem. Then … it migrates to a different format. It either goes into Get Satisfaction where it is officially logged. Or someone may have a longer question, so they email me. Or we start up an Instant Messenger chat. … That combination of tools is how things realy end up working. It’s important to be on a variety of platforms. It’s also important to be flexible to move between them to whichever format [of communication] is most comfortable for people.”

Other posts about AideRSS

AideRSS’ Journey from Founders’ Dream to Professional Leadership

Ilya Grigorik explains PostRank

AideRSS’ PostRank Measures Engagement

AideRSS at DemoCampToronto14

From Founders' Dream to Professional Leadership: AideRSS' Startup Journey

Since launching in July 2007, AideRSS has been well reviewed, attracted venture capital and evolved from founders’ dream into a professionally managed company. During my recent visit to the offices of AideRSS, both Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer Ilya Grigorik and recently-appointed CEO Carol Leaman sat down to talk with me about the company’s journey from an idea to a venture-funded enterprise.

As I reviewed the recordings of these interviews, I was struck by how different Ilya and Carol are. Ilya is the quintessential techno-enthusiast. His enthusiasm for the original idea and the pursuit of the next innovation is almost palpable. Carol is the rationalist. Polished. Bottom line oriented.

Two very different people. Yet, they complement one another. Hmmm. A smart pairing brought about by smart money?

Ilya GrigorikIlya:

“It all started as a personal project when I started blogging. I wanted to create an analytics engine for myself, defining my own metrics for how people interact with my content, how has one post performed better than another. … One evening it occurred to me that if I’m doing this to track my own performance, why can’t I apply the same idea to outside posts?”

“It’s an amazing experience to wake up in the morning and realizing that you started with something that was just an idea and something you worked on on weekends, and all of a sudden you have a company working around it.”

“We went from an idea to an actual Website launched in July ’07. It was an amazing launch. We received lots of attention from the online community. Everybody loved the idea. It was something that everybody needed. We had articles written in Japanese, Korean, Arabic, English. It was really an amazing experience to see all the feedback. Following up on that, we went out and raised some money to take the idea to the next level.”

Carol LeamanCarol:

“What’s behind the system is highly complex, but people won’t use it unless it’s extremely simple” to use.

AideRSS received its first round of financing in December, only five months after launch and plans to raise a second round “in a few months.”

What’s the business model? AideRSS seems to be working toward a “freemium service with a variety of potential services.” AideRSS is still in the early stages of exploring this, but they “hope to launch by the end of the calendar year.”

More about AideRSS

Ilya Grigorik explains PostRank

AideRSS’ PostRank Measures Engagement

AideRSS at DemoCampToronto14

AideRSS' Ilya Grigorik explains PostRank

AideRSSI visited the AideRSS team the week before the launch of CEO Carol Leaman, co-founder and chief technologist Ilya Grigorik and Community Manager Melanie Baker took the time to sit down with me to chat.

In today’s interview, Ilya Grigorik explains PostRank and AideRSS’ approach to measuring engagement. Among the highlights:

  • Ilya defines engagement as “any interaction a user can have with a post or an article.” To measure engagement, AideRSS aggregates all the metadata it can find about each post: number of views, the number of times the page has been clicked, how many people have bookmarked the story, how many people people have blogged, twittered, shared it on Pownce or Ma.gnolia.
  • AideRSS uses the metadata it collects to compute an Engagement Score. In doing this, they assign different weights to different types of actions. Viewing a page would be considered a “lightweight” action. A click would be assigned greater weight. A comment requires a greater investment of time and thought. It would be assigned yet greater weight. AideRSS assigns less weight to a Twitter comment. An Engagement Score for a post is calculated using the weighted instances of all of the actions detected for that post. A higher Engagement Score signifies more attention from the community.
  • PostRank is an indicator of the relative Engagement Score of each post on a blog. Thematic PostRank is an indicator of the relative engagement score of a series of posts across a collection of content sources.
  • PostRank is dependent on context. Ranking articles against other articles in a specific blog will yield a different PostRank than ranking articles across a collection of blogs.
  • PostRank scores are computed based on a post’s performance compared to the previous performance of a blog. Thematic PostRank does the same thing for a collection of content from different sources.
  • AideRSS is continually tweaking its algorithms by adding sources like Twitter and Pownce and adjusting the weight assigned to various sources.

More on AideRSS:

AideRSS’ PostRank Measures Engagement

AideRSS at DemoCampToronto14

AideRSS' PostRank measures engagement

AideRSSAre you interested in a tool that will help you sort through the flood of new posts to find the most interesting and talked about content in your RSS subscriptions?

Are you a writer or content creator who wants to figure out which content others have become most engaged with?

Are you a corporate communicator or marketer who wants to understand which content and authors are having the greatest impact on issues and online conversations that matter to you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, read on.

A Time Saver for Readers

Since AideRSS first launched just over a year ago, I’ve used it to identify online content that others have also found interesting and engaging. AideRSS provides a simple calculation of what they call PostRank which analyzes the frequency and type of interaction with online content and provides a relative score of how interesting and relevant people have found it to be. By sorting the posts by PostRank, I can easily spot those that seem to be generating the highest levels of engagement.

On days when I’ve let the posts in my FeedReader accumulate, I can spend more than an hour scanning them all (more time than I should invest), delete them all (What if I miss something that really matters to me?) or I can filter them with AideRSS so that I can review only those with the highest PostRank. I’ve installed AideRSS’ Firefox Extension for Google Reader to incorporate PostRank right into my RSS aggregator. A great time saver.

Measuring Engagement

From the outset, I was impressed by AideRSS’ approach to measuring what’s important in social media. It struck me that AideRSS-Co-founder Ilya Grigorik’s PostRank algorithm was a smart way to begin to measure engagement. When AideRSS launched, it wasn’t important whether Ilya had the definitive algorithm. What was important was that he was working toward a holistic calculation that incorporated both offsite and onsite interaction.

AideRSS’ CEO, Carol Leaman, participated in the Toronto Roundtable on Social Media Measurement this past spring.  During the day, she made some thoughtful contributions, both in the things she suggested and, equally importantly, the questions she asked. As I listened to her, it was clear that the folks at AideRSS were also thinking through their place in the social media metrics and measurement puzzle.

I didn’t have to wait very long to see what Carol, Ilya and the AideRSS team were working on.

PostRank: A New Standard?

A couple weeks ago, AideRSS launched PostRank on a its own site, The site highlights PostRank’s utility for measuring online engagement. It also offers a set of APIs to encourage developers to incorporate PostRank in their own Web Apps. At the same time was launched, AideRSS also introduced Thematic PostRank to enable the PostRank calculation to be applied to any collection of content assembled from a variety of feeds and sources (not just blogs, but Twitter and others services.)

AideRSS is attempting to promote PostRank as a standard measurement of online engagement. And to date, the AideRSS approach to measuring engagement is the best I’ve found.

Have you used AideRSS or PostRank? What do you think of them?

More on AideRSS and PostRank

TechVibes: AideRSS -Now it Gets Interesting

Video of AideRSS co-founders Ilya Grigorik and Kevin Thomason demonstrating AideRSS at DemoCampToronto14.