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SparkToro: The new kid on the influencer marketing block

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

It really is the end of an era. Rand Fishkin announced last week that he would be leaving the company he co-founded. It had been 17 years since that founding and Fishken quipped about how it felt walking out the door for the last time. In a blog post, he rated the experience: “On a scale of 0-10, where 0 is ‘fired and escorted out of the building by security’ and 10 is ‘left entirely of his own accord on wonderful terms,’ my departure is around a 4. That makes today a hard one, cognitively and emotionally.” We think many share this sentiment. But, we shall look not to the past (Moz) but to the future with SparkToro, Fishkin’s new gig.

Moz and SparkToro have differing focal points. Moz, founded in 2004, was a trailblazing company in SEO. Over time, both Moz and SEO grew in prominence pretty much concurrently. Now with Moz garnering an international following and SEO being a major part of digital marketing, Fishkin has shown himself out. Now it’s time for SparkToro, which will have a different raison d’être.

It does seem eerily reminiscent, however, of the early days of Moz and SEO. Similarly, SparkToro is trying first to build community. This time, the community that is being sought explains audiences rather than search engines. SparkToro’s “about” page, so new it’s labeled “What We’re Building,” expands on this. What they’re building is a software platform that will allow marketers to better understand who’s reading their stuff and why that stuff is being read. That way, marketers can target audiences in a more natural way and become thought leaders in their field. “Some folks call this ‘influencer marketing,’” Fishkin writes, “but I’ve found that terminology to be too limiting.”

In a simplified sense, influencer marketing works like the more traditional advertising methods of sponsorship and spokespeople. Influencers have a wide following of fans and comment on their enjoyment of consuming certain brands. Fishkin wants SparkToro to take that and expand it, not unlike what he did around SEO. Fishkin, writing of the current state of influencer marketing, highlights this and alludes to the future. “It’s often exclusively associated with paying Instagram and YouTube celebrities to post about a product, and that’s not where this product/company is going. In the next year, I hope to have a product I can show you.”

We’ve enjoyed following and learning from Fishkin. Our head honcho, Krishna, had the privilege of chatting with him at last summer’s Unbounce Conference. We think that the biggest credit that is due for him extends beyond the world of digital marketing, though. What we commend the most is the success he had with a business (Moz) he started with his mother. Now, don’t get us wrong. We are definitely pro-mom here at ROI. But the thought of starting a business with ours has us envisioning an episode dedicated to the experience on Dr. Phil’s next season. Even if it is sans mom, we’re excited to follow SparkToro.

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