News spins its viral content into a separate media site

November 12, 2014 01:15 PM

Few retailers have better leveraged the power of social media to spark viral sharing, clicking and commenting better than, No. 4 in the Social Media 500. Its strategy has always been to let loose a steady stream of images, cute animal videos, funny taglines and other content that might drive a user to engage.

And while that content has helped it drive more than 34% of its site traffic from social networks, according to Internet Retailer’s, the majority of that traffic has come from ads, not shoppers clicking from organic posts, says co-founder Alex Zhardanovsky.

“Facebook pages work great for building awareness and engaging with people, but it isn’t the place to generate sales,” he says.

With the realization that the roughly 3.2 million Facebook Likes that Petflow, No. 367 in the 2014 Top 500 Guide, had attracted to its Facebook page were largely from consumers wanting to view its content rather than buy pet supplies, Zhardanovsky and his co-founder on Sept. 25 launched a site called to house the curated content the retailer had been posting on its blog and sharing on Facebook. And on Nov. 5, they renamed Petflow’s Facebook page “Little Things—Amazing Stories” and launched a separate Facebook Petflow Facebook page to deal with customer service issues and interact with shoppers about the retail brand. The “Little Things—Amazing Stories” Facebook page has more than 3.1 million Likes, another page called “Little Things” has 869,000 and the new Petflow page has 563 Likes.

The disparity between Likes is OK, Zhardanovsky says, because the retailer doesn’t rely on its Facebook fan base to target Facebook users. Instead it uses Facebook targeting options such as Custom Audience, which lets advertisers use such information as e-mail addresses that shoppers provide them off of Facebook to target ads on the social network, as well as its Lookalike Audience tool that lets marketers target ads at consumers who share similar traits to its Custom Audience segments.

Meanwhile, Zhardanovsky and his partner view as a media site. The site has a growing staff of nine writers—three of them have been hired in the past three months—and its marketing team is working with advertisers and ad networks to enable marketers to target the site’s visitors.

Media is familiar territory to Zhardanovsky, who founded the ad network Inc. in 2000. (It has since been renamed EpicAds.) “The media world isn’t new to us,” he says, noting that also features third-party ads. “We’ve always been of the mindset that if someone else can monetize your audience, why not let them and make money from the click.”

Eventually, Zhardanovsky plans to segment content within so that a dog owner, for example, won’t need to navigate through cat videos to find the content he likes. “We know that the more relevant your message can be, the better the results,” he says.

While represents another business for Zhardanovsky, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t also focused on, which generated an Internet Retailer-estimated $40 million last year. “Petflow isn’t going anywhere,” he says.




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