Rocket to the Moon: The Stratospheric Ascent of Mass Relevance

By STACY ALEXANDER EVANS
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Photos by Stacy Alexander Evans

Photos by Stacy Alexander Evans

One look around the offices at Mass Relevance in downtown Austin, and it’s clear this is where the cool kids come to work.

Surrounded by colorful lockers embellished with skater-style stickers and loft-like exposed vent ducts, the employees here—like new hire Courtney White who recently moved to Austin from San Diego—gush about company perks such as an on-site chef who provides lunch every day for its team of hardworking buzz-generators.

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Mass Relevance is what you might call a purveyor of brand congruity. These days, effective advertising via social media is all about one vision, one voice. Mass Relevance helps make that happen for its clients via razor sharp strategizing. Its client list is impressive, featuring some of the biggest names in the glamour industries of sports and entertainment, among them ESPN, Fox Sports and NBC’s The Voice.

Cofounder Brian Dainton, along with Eric Falcao and Sam Decker, joined forces in 2010 to build what Dainton calls a “company that would transform the industry.” Starting out initially as TweetRiver, Dainton and his team had a vision that soon became more expansive. “When we saw the tremendous opportunity to help brand and media companies bring social content into digital screens,” says Dainton, now serving as the company’s VP of Engineering, “we knew we had a much larger opportunity on our hands than just the TweetRiver product.”

Dainton says bringing Decker on board was key to their success. Known as the trailblazer behind Bazaarvoice, Decker had the expertise they needed in building strong, innovative, marketing technology companies. “Our hope was to weave social content across any and every digital screen,” he says, “starting with TV, and expanding now to jumbotrons, digital billboards, websites, mobile and tablets.”

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In business, as in mating, comedy, and so many other risk-taking endeavors—it’s often all about the timing. Mass Relevance was founded in 2010, a banner year for the marriage of advertising to social media. That April in New York, the Interactive Advertising Bureau held a Social Media Marketplace to sold-out crowds. Linda Cronin, executive for soft drink giant Coca-Cola, was the keynote speaker.

At this meeting, Cronin presented five ingredients for social media success:
1) Add value
2) Be transparent
3) Be consistent
4) Be receptive to change
5) Surprise and delight your consumers.
This advice almost seems simplistic by today’s standards. Mass Relevance had dreams of convergence that must have been merely a glimmer in Cronin’s eyes four years ago.

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Mike Dodd is a partner at Austin Ventures, the much-lauded venture capital firm that provided support to Mass Relevance in its early days. He says the backing was a no-brainer. “We invested in Mass Relevance because we saw the trifecta of success I look for in startups – strong product that companies need, tremendous opportunity in the market, and an executive team with the experience, skills, and vision to successfully lead the company.” The feeling is apparently mutual, as Dainton remarks, “We have tremendous respect for the entire Austin Ventures team, and how they’ve helped accelerate Austin’s tech startup industry.”

Dodd goes on to say that his firm is impressed by what Mass Relevance has accomplished to date, citing its partnership with social media giant, Twitter. “They were Twitter’s first certified partner licensed to re-syndicate content for display,” beams Dodd, “and are currently the only company with access to both Twitter’s firehose and Facebook’s Keyword Insights API.”

Considering the fact they also partner with Instagram, Vine, Google+, Youtube and Klout—it’s no surprise Mass Relevance works with 25 percent of Interbrand’s 2013 World’s Best Brands. Clearly, they are one of Austin’s crown jewels. Dodd is proud to report that they “continue to sign new clients and develop new social experiences that are changing the way brands and media companies interact with consumers.” It seems likely that someday soon we can say we remember them when…

Mass Relevance headquarters in downtown Austin.

Mass Relevance headquarters in downtown Austin.

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