Michael Cyger, chairman of Bainbridge Island, Wash.-based Cyger Media, launched Web X.0 Media in mid-2009, less than 18 months after selling CTQ Media, his b-to-b media company. Cyger's vision was to combine journalism and community collaboration with software applications that would empower audiences in new ways. This week, Web X.0 took a leap forward along that path with the relaunch of Hashtags.org and its paid-subscription analytics service.
Cyger is also bringing CTQ Media into a new digital era after getting an unexpected second chance. In 2000, Cyger founded CTQ Media with a portal called iSixSigma.com. He then expanded into print, research, conferences, custom publishing and marketing services before selling the business to Schofield Media Group in February 2008. Schofield later lost its bank funding and was forced to shutter its U.S. operations in July 2011. Cyger repurchased the remaining assets of CTQ last November.
Digital Directions: What's new about Hashtags.org?
Michael Cyger: When I acquired Hashtags.org in January 2011, it was already established as a brand. Currently, it serves about 100,000 unique monthly visitors. The significantly improved new site is a cross between a publishing website, a community portal, a metrics system and a software app. Because more than 340 million tweets are sent every day, with enormous peaks during major events, Cyger Media partnered with Logika Corp. of Chicago to transform the vast real-time data into a proprietary database with easy-to-use analytics. Some analytics are free, but users who want to deep dive, store data, look at trends over time (up to 2 years), save reports, export data and so forth must pay for the premium software-as-a-service. There are four levels [based on the amount of usage], with a monthly subscription ranging from $49 per month for an individual to $349 per month for an agency. We have annual subscriptions, too.
The analytics software is just one part of a comprehensive publishing and community site that includes articles and how-to content, news, a discussion forum, a crowd-sourced dictionary of hashtag definitions, a hashtag chat feature, an event calendar and resources for effectively managing social media marketing campaigns. In addition to the analytics service, revenues will come from advertising and sales of “promoted” hashtags that will run on our website and in feeds to more than 275,000 followers.
DD: How have you remade iSixSigma.com?
Cyger: We bought the assets of iSixSigma, not a functioning business, on Nov. 7, 2011; we relaunched the website on Jan. 1 on a new WordPress content management system. We added several new social features, including a “gamified” experience where people are rewarded for contributing to the community by writing articles, being interviewed on video, contributing discussion forum threads or answering questions. As they interact with one another, people earn reputation and collect a portfolio of expertise in a given topic they can use to supplement their resume or LinkedIn profile
DD: What's next for Cyger Media?
Cyger: We see technology as the base from which we build everything else. We will continue to focus on thought leadership through publishing and community building, but exponential business growth will come from the mobile Web, the social Web and data that make people and businesses more intelligent.