Engagio's Blog
Knowing where your friends are commenting

Yesterday, we rolled out a few more features, some more significant than others. But the most important one was showing you the most recent posts where you top contacts are commenting

That’s a new paradigm for content discovery. Typically, we were used to following our friends’ Twitter streams, what they liked, shared, or linked to, and that was the extent of the serendipitous nature of content discovery. Now, as commenting and conversations are rising to become important engagement signals, seeing where your friends are spending their time is a new type of signal that has higher value than just sharing, liking or linking. Why? Because commenting is a time-consuming exercise, and it signals a commitment of the part of the user. With higher commitments, come higher value.

I routinely use this page now to see where my contacts are spreading their words of wisdom, and that helps me meet them across several touch points in the fragmented social media universe. 

Other new features include:

  • Invite a user to Engagio from their Profile (or tweet an invite to them) - Why? You’ll help us spread the word, but you’ll also see a more complete profile about them once they signup.
  • Edit your Profile, links and picture - Why? You may want to customize your profile so that other users can see the latest info about you. 
  • Weekly email - Why? It will list the new Contacts you have engaged with, and a link to their profile, as well as users that are open to being contacted by you. 

Go try these new features, and let us know what you think!

Engagio is OPEN, and we bought the domain!

As of January 30th, Engagio is now OPEN for signups without the proverbial “Invite Code”. Since our December 6th unveiling on Fred Wilson’s blog, we processed over 3,000 invite requests without any marketing on our part. 

And last week, we purchased the domain Engagio.com, aided by the resourceful LE at Domain Registry (LE is his pseudonym on AVC). LE is a master expert in domain management matters, and I would recommend him to anyone having domain-related initiatives. 

What’s new with the Engagio product? Most of the new features are centered on enhancing the InBox experience, and we’ve added a few niceties into the Sites folder.

The InBox Gets Richer

  • Hide a comment or user for Spam or another reason. Self-explanatory. 
  • A pair of chevrons next to an Inbox entry indicates that the newest reply in this conversation was destined to you.
  • Next/Previous pagination allows you to go from one conversation to another without jumping back to the InBox.
  • Enhanced user pop-overs which now include “Comments from this users”, you Interactions with them, and a clear link to their Profile page.
  • We’re now picking-up Facebook photos and Facebook shares (in addition to Facebook Comments and Facebook posts).

Sites Management and Content from Sites

  • You can mute/un-mute a specific site from your list of Top Sites. Muting a site will hide it from your Inbox, but doesn’t stop the collection of data from that site.
  • Hovering over a Site’s name will reveal the latest articles that were commented on from that site. It’s great for content discovery. Next to the Inbox, this is the most visited area by users who want to discover new sites where their Contacts are commenting. It’s great for meeting your friends or targeted relationships across multiple touch points. 

How Engagio Changes Your Commenting Habits

We also have received new reviews in blogs, magazines and newspapers, and lots of positive feedback, and lots of spontaneous ones on Twitter. We love those and make them our Favorites. 

Among the most recent reviews of the 3 weeks, I’d like to highlight the one authored by Douglas Crets in Fast Company. I asked Douglas who runs dB C Media how has Engagio changed his user habits. He responded: 

"Simply put, Engagio has shown me how much I might miss in conversations on blogs if I depend only on the email delivery of follow-up comments. It often allows me to see much more of the bigger picture around my comments, and definitely shows me who is immediately responding to me, which is something that actually gets lost in the follow up emails, but does not necessarily alert me to which one is specifically about comment threads I have started. 

With Engagio, this problem is solved. I can see these blog comments in the same milieu as my other comments and conversations in other settings. This makes it entirely possible for me to see what threads emerge from the day’s conversations and who surfaces as a reliable partner in these conversations.” 

Doug’s key point is about the holistic nature of the conversations across the various touch points, and the “aha” that’s provided when you tie the people behind the conversations. At Engagio, we believe that comments are implicit linkages about people, and if you see the value in online communities, you will see value in the people relationships inside these communities.

Finally, we added a number of Social buttons inside the App. This allows you to share us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and GooglePlus. We need you to use these buttons on all these networks to spread the word about Engagio. 

Posting to Tumblr, People Search, LinkedIn, Social Identities & More

We quietly released 7 new features on December 22nd, just before Christmas. They all directly contribute to Engagio’s two key premises (and promises): a) helping you manage multi-site conversations, b) bringing you visibility about the potential relationships from whom you’ve interacted with.

Commenting Inbox Productivity 

1) Mark read/unread
Similar to GMail’s, you can mark individual, multiple or all messages as read or unread.

2) Publish to Tumblr as a new post
Previously, when you shared a comment on Tumblr, it was as a Quote. Now, you can also publish any comment as a new Post on Tumblr. This allows you to post your best comments that way or edit someone else’s comment and make it the basis for your post.

3) Connect to LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the 8th network you can connect to. Once you do, we start pulling LinkedIn replies to you from what you share and from your Group conversations, but you can’t reply (yet) from the Engagio Inbox.

4) International Languages
We implemented UTF8 encoding to support the various international language characters. We know that some users from Turkey and Russia have asked for it, and others probably were waiting for it. 

Visibility and Intelligence about your Contacts 

5) Search People
Gradually, more and more users will be on Engagio. When you search for a person, if the user is on Engagio, you’ll see their integrated networks on one line. If they aren’t on Engagio yet, you’ll see the various networks they are on. That’s a very convenient way to do research on someone you’ve just met without having to look for their social identity profiles separately.

6) Public Profiles
Fred Wilson’s recent blog post on Lightweight Identity focused on the fact that our public identities are very telling about us. This is our first attempt to tie all the social identities of a user on a single page that others can browse and link to. Great for learning about new people that are interacting with you.

7) Dashboard
Think of it as an Analytics dashboard for your Engagement activity. On one page, you’ll see a) all your contacts, b) engagement stats from your top networks, c) your top sites, d) top sites from your top contacts, e) a roll of your latest comments, f) latest public comments from your top contacts. 

Tying everything together and going forward
Yes, there’s a method behind our madness. Here’s the flow and how the various pieces get connected: from a single comment to/from a user, you’ll see that user in your Engagement folder. If you hover over that user and click on their name, you’ll be sent directly to their profile where you can learn about them. And, once you’re reviewing their profile, we’ll reveal key aspects of the 1:1 relationship you have with them. 

Overall, these features contribute to making Engagio a unique product that combines the utility of email with the usefulness of online relationship management.

Think of the following 4 facts: 1) the web removed distance barriers, 2) social media has made us more open about ourselves, 3) online commenting flattened the conversation barriers, and 4) starting business relationships online is no longer an exception, rather becoming a common thing. Engagio helps you exploit and manage the converged effects of these 4 trends. 

And we have even more exciting ideas in store for 2012.

Best Holiday and New Year wishes to our users, supporters, followers and those still on the waiting list.  

Social Engagement Productivity, Content Insights and Relationships Visibility: 7 reasons to use Engagio daily

Engagio’s promise is to track all your online conversations in one place, saving you time when you are replying, and giving you visibility into the relationships that emanate from these conversations.

Here are seven (7) reasons to use Engagio daily and benefit from productivity gains, content insights and relationship management. 

1) Manage your Comments and Conversations replies like Email
Why go to multiple sites to check on replies, or thumb through multiple notification emails to find the ones you want to reply to? You’re bound to miss replies. Instead, just glance at your Engagio Inbox and reply from there. And if you just hover over the message lines, we’ll reveal the last message in a handy pop-up, so you could quickly hone-in on the ones you want. 

2) See the Relationships behind the Conversations
In the Engagement folder, Engagio automatically tracks the people that you’ve conversed with. We count the number of direct interactions, and you can sort your Contacts according to the total number of Interactions, from you to them, from them to you, or by date of last interaction. And we’ll even highlight the New Contacts so you can focus on them. 

3) Review 1:1 past Interactions with your Top Contacts
With one click, you can review the 1:1 history of Interactions between any one of your Contacts. It’s accessible from the Engagement folder, and you can see a Quick View in the right margin, or a Full view on a page.

4) Search your Comments
Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb made a perfect example out of the Comments search utility. Please give it a read as he explains Engagio’s comment search value. We think that searching your comments is a key feature. Try it and see how we reveal the people behind the comments.

5) Snoop on your Contacts Top Sites
As you make new Contacts, and you increase your interactions with them, we roll them into a Top Contacts tier representing the top 25 percentile of your Contacts. Then, we show you a list of the Top Sites they are regularly commenting on. That’s a great way to discover new Sites you didn’t know about, or to learn more about where your Top Contacts are engaging so you can engage with them in a variety of communities, beyond the one where you first met them.

6) See which Contacts are open to being contacted by you
When two users are on Engagio, one of them can decide to reveal their email 1:1. It’s a private peer-to-peer revelation. Just hover over the envelope next to their name in the Engagement folder, and toggle it so that it shows an arrow pointing to them. When they visit their engagement page, they’ll see an arrow pointing to them and it will reveal your email to them. It’s a subtle way to making the first step for connecting.

7) Review the Links that were shared during your conversations
That feature is worth its weight in gold. How many times did you wish you could do that? It’s all here, and you’ll see the full Comment where the link was shared. 

If you have found more reasons to use Engagio daily, please email us. We’d love to know.

Engagio Update: 1:1 Conversations History and Hovering to Reveal Comments

You asked. We listened and delivered. 

Only one week after the Alpha launch, we’re rolling out a few productivity related features:

Hover over the Inbox to reveal the last Reply
Just hover over the message lines in your Engagio Inbox and we’ll reveal the last reply in a pop-up. This means more productivity gains as you quickly preview the replies that came to you. 

 

Show the Context for the Shared Links
The Shared Links folder was according to Andy Swanworth the price of admission”, so we’ve enhanced it by revealing the whole comment in which these links appeared in a pop-up. Cool? Thanks Andy for pressing us on that one. 

See the 1:1 interactions with your Top Contacts
Marshall Kirkpatrick asked for that feature the minute he started to play with Engagio (see Marshall’s review of Engagio). Now, from the Engagement folder, as you hover over a user’s name, you can see a Quick View of your Interactions with that user, or All Interactions in a full results page. But we didn’t stop there. Upon hovering, we’ll reveal the last comment between both users, so you don’t have to open the thread immediately.

 

More Gmail like look and feel
If you look closer to the Inbox, we’ve improved the format to make it even closer to the popular Gmail, i.e. the way we reveal the names, subject, header and body of the comment.

Please keep your feedback coming either via email or by using the UserVoice Feedback pages. 

We have more coming. Please follow our Twitter account and leave us your email to be invited. In the meantime, here’s some Twitter love we’re keeping track of.

Seeing Relationships from your Commenting Activity: The Social Interaction Graph

The second premise of Engag.io is to allow a commenter to extract value from their commenting activity. That value is derived from the potential relationships that are developed over time by commenting with one another.

Although the social web has been shadowed by linking and sharing activity, commenting online is one of the strongest social media signal. It’s stronger than liking and sharing,- yet we weren’t able to systematically see the relationships from these conversations, until Engag.io came along.

Engag.io tracks the people you’re interacting with, and therefore is building an Interaction Graph for you, implicitely, and accurately. Fred Wilson described Engag.io as an io channel for social engagement in an exclusive alpha launch post.

The Social Interaction Graph we’re building is accurate because you can’t fake engagement. It’s implicit because you don’t have to change your activity, i.e. you comment as you normally would.

Here’s the flow Engagio is based on:

Community—>Comments—>Conversations—>Connections—>Content—>Contact 


You go to the communities you care about, you comment, you make conversations, you meet connections, you discover new content & learn about your connections, you contact these connections.

The magic reveals itself as we tie the six C’s together and use the underlying data to give you a much needed visibility into your social engagement activity. After all, “the handful of communities that have dynamic conversations are still uniquely separated from each other”, as Arnold Waldstein astutely observed in his blog post Conversational Rant. But with Engag.io, we’re changing this paradigm and integrating your conversations in a smart way.

Why is this important? Because online advocacy is on the rise and an increasing number of users are engaging online and debating the issues that matter to them, whether business, technology, politics, lifestyle or hobbies related. Vibrant online communities are the future of web.

Not only has the quantity of comments increased, but so has the quality of comments to the point where the value of comments is often greater than the value of the post or article. So, why not focus on the parts that have the most value- the conversations and the people behind them. 

Start Engaging

Engagio’s First Premise: The Universal Commenting Inbox

Engagio’s first premise is about its utility factor- the utility of seeing all of your commenting activity in one place.

As engaged users, we all comment in various places. But to keep up, we need to either re-visit these sites, or receive multiple email notifications when a reply has been posted. So, why not borrow the Gmail analogy and have a tool that collects all of your comments as messages in an Inbox format? Then, when you open the message, you will see the conversation threads inside. And you can reply from there. That’s where Engagio starts, but not where it ends.

Connecting your Networks and Commenting Systems
We started with 7 social networks/commenting systems: DisqusFacebook Comments and Wall, Google+TwitterFoursquare checkins, Tumblr (write only), and Hacker News (read only). Just like email, there’s an Inbox folder, and there’s a Sent folder. Your comments/replies are collected in the Sent folder. And when someone responds to one of your comments or replies, the message line turns bold (Unread), until you read it or open it. 

We believe that having a universal Conversation Inbox could become a daily time saver.It will save you time because you don’t have to check the multiple source sites where you have placed your comments. And you can for example focus on replies first, before you get to other commenting.

You don’t have to use the Engagio Inbox exclusively. You can also comment normally on the native sites, or via email, and we will continue to record your commenting activity, therefore keeping your Inbox and Sent folder up to date. Suddenly, you’ll be accumulating all these conversation in one place, giving you a new type of visibility into your content across the various commenting communities. 

How about “Searching your comments”?

Search your comments
Yes, you can search your comments and content around your comments in the conversation threads that you participate in by running a simple text search. The novelty we have introduced is in displaying the results: we show you the top users that are participating in the comment threads that match your search queries. Great way to discover where the smart conversations are, and the smart people behind them!

Share your comments
Social sharing is part of this experience, and we have taken it a step further. Not only can you re-share your comments, but also any comment that appears in the threads that you’re participating in. This makes it easy to quote powerful comments from your friends and users you interact with during the online conversations. You can share into up to 3 networks simultaneously, in one click: Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. 

How does this compare to existing commenting solutions? Our vision is very user-centric whereas other commenting systems are primarily site owner-centric, although some of them such as Disqus offer some user-centric features via a Dashboard. We think we have taken commenting user-centricity further than anyone else. And all commenting systems whether third-party or native ones are our partners. We depend on them, but we add value for the end-user on top of their offerings. 

In the next post, I will cover the second most powerful feature of Engagio: allowing you to track and manage the people you interact with during your commenting.

Follow us on Twitter at @engagio.