Geek Speak: Matthew Kyska, cofounder of SocialFollows

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Matthew Kyska is working on a social media marketing and management tool in Vancouver, but it’s not HootSuite.

Kyska is a cofounder of SocialFollows, a tech startup based in Yaletown. The SocialFollows tool went live in mid September and is still in beta. With free and paid versions, SocialFollows allows users to manage multiple Twitter accounts, schedule tweets, track groups of keywords, and view analytics. On October 1, the company plans to add the ability to post to Facebook pages and profiles. LinkedIn and Google+ support is planned in the future.

Born in Calgary, the 29-year-old Kyska is one of the three partners running SocialFollows, which has one employee. Kyska has a bachelor’s degree in English and sociology from Mount Royal College in Calgary and a senior management certificate in new media design and web development from the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

The Georgia Straight reached Kyska by phone at his Vancouver home office.

What kind of users would benefit from using SocialFollows?

Anybody who is really actively engaged on Twitter right now. A regular person who has multiple accounts—say they have a personal account and they run a blog—they could manage multiple accounts from our platform, be able to schedule out their tweets for both separate ones, and be able to interact and grow their following. An organization that has hundreds of franchised stores, both in North America and overseas, could manage on our collaboration tools to have a concise marketing effort and have consistency across it all. So really it’s for anybody who uses Twitter.

What is the key feature of SocialFollows?

Well, we have a couple. But the key-est feature is obviously the saving of time. Having everything in one place at one time, and being able to schedule and have insights around that is probably our best feature. But obviously we have a couple of features which we are most proud of, which is our smart schedule and our automated schedule, where we post when it is most convenient and when it’s most optimal for your followers, and the same time going into our marketing tools, such as the Target section within the app. That has keywords and keyword groups that you can consistently come back to and track, so you can see what’s going on based around your industry, based around what your predefined search terms were. That’s always going to be there, which no other platform really is doing right now.

How do you compete with existing services like HootSuite?

We know that they’re a giant, and we love them. I know Ryan Holmes and Dario [Meli] a little bit myself. But how we compete is just coming to the market like we did, with just a Twitter tool. We want to be able to master each of these social networks at one time and have a successful rollout for each. We knew it would be pretty far-fetched for us to come out and go into development for five years to build a tool that would compete with HootSuite. We knew that wasn’t realistic.

So we just wanted to take the approach—you know, there are people who aren’t satisfied with HootSuite. A lot of it comes down to the way it’s designed—UI—left-to-right navigation as opposed to up and down. We really pride ourselves on our UI and UX, and we think everything is laid out just a little bit better. It’s shown a lot cleaner, the tangible results are right in front of you, and we have a clean navigation, which is again one of the biggest problems I think people are finding with services such as HootSuite, Sprout Social, and such.

What are your plans for mobile?

We will be moving into mobile. Firstly, what we’re going to try to do is finish all that we can for Facebook and finish out what we need to do for our insights and our analytics before we get into an app. We just want to be able to provide a ton of value when somebody is on the go. Your main things like: how’s my Facebook? How’s my Twitter? What are my stats, and what does my schedule look like? So we don’t want to build an app until we can just hit it out of the park. But it will happen towards the fall, into the new year.

What’s one major trend in social media that you’re watching right now?

These companies, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, making all these changes with their APIs and changing how people like us, who are manufacturing tools to use these services—that’s probably the biggest trend I’m watching. They’re trying to turn their APIs into money-making machines for themselves, but at the same time keeping it open for developers and entrepreneurs to freely build the tools that we want to build.

Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? You can tell Stephen Hui on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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