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June 15, 2017
Cortex – Utilizing Data Insights for Content on Social Media Channels

Maroon 5 is one of the more popular music acts in the country today. In order to keep in touch with their fans, without having to hold a concert or make appearances every day, they have their social media accounts. However, working in the music entertainment business is time-consuming and putting out the right content for fans to interact with on any band’s social media channels can be a difficult task.

To solve this solution, the band started utilizing the content management platform Cortex to increase social media engagement. The platform allowed the band to put out the right images and messages to their fans in a more efficient manner. The results? A massive increase in fan engagement across the band's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Brennan White, Founder and CEO of Cortex
Brennan White, Founder and CEO of Cortex

“When we met with the band, they were ecstatic,” says Cortex founder and CEO, Brennan White. “I can say I actually have Adam Levine’s autograph. Granted, it’s on a business contract, but I have it.”

White’s first company, Pandemic Labs, was founded in 2007. Pandemic Labs, is a digital marketing agency which later went on to be one of the first companies in its respective field to utilize social media. “We didn’t really blow up until two years after we formed. I remember we were telling companies, ‘Facebook and Twitter are going to matter,’” White says. “They would say, ‘Only my teenage daughter uses those, no it won’t.’ And then the whole industry turned.” Over the next few years, Pandemic had a variety of clients including Dunkin Donuts and Marriott Hotels.

However, when working with marketing teams, White saw how difficult it could be to make creative decisions. When working with a major company, White saw very particular scenarios play out. A creative team will meet in a room and it can either go smoothly or it can become a competition between others. Or, alternatively, a corporate suit can come in with charts from focus groups which can make the creative process even more complicated than it needs to be. White and his team at Pandemic were trying to figure out a way to optimize a company’s marketing data without having to spend a long time making creative decisions.

“If you are working on content and those numbers for demand are getting huge, you’re going to experience a creative burnout,” says White. “Our hypothesis was, ‘Can we gather data and find insights with that data to help with the creative-decision making process?’”

Using White's knowledge of social media marketing, Cortex was founded in January 2014 as a spin-off of Pandemic Labs and officially went to market in 2015. Cortex is a Boston-area startup who developed a SaaS platform that allows the creative decision making process to be more streamlined.

The main function of the platform is its ability to use machine-learning algorithms to track certain statistics with pieces of content, (which includes images, video, articles, etc.). These statistics can include how social media users are engaging with the content itself and/or what demographics make up the users. This allows marketing teams to select which pieces of content will be best suited for a client’s social media channel or website.

Cortex screenshot
Gaining insights within Cortex.

Another feature of the Cortex platform is the ability to compare how a company’s campaign is doing against another campaign, by measuring social media statistics in a spreadsheet-like data platform.

Maroon 5 is just one of many clients who use the Cortex platform. Another success story with the Cortex platform is with the Utah Office of Tourism. The tourism department has increased engagements on Facebook and Instagram by distributing pictures highlighting certain vacation spots and activities.

Utah Office of Tourism using Cortex
Utah Office of Tourism using Cortex.

Cortex has received funding from a variety of groups across the West Coast, but has received angel funding from the Boston area; one particular investor is Jere Doyle of Sigma Prime Ventures. “Jere actually funded us under his old firm, Oyster Angel,” says White.

As for the team, there are five full-time employees at the company. Alongside White, there are two of the original team members from Pandemic Labs, as well as a few local-area developers.

White originally studied music composition at Vassar College and understands the struggles of creative types working in marketing. His company’s goal is to make the whole process much smoother and put the content in front of consumers. “The days of a Don Draper-type sitting in an office for a week trying to come up with something are over,” White says. “We have the data, so why not use it?”


Colin Barry is a contributor to VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter @ColinKrash.

Images courtesy of Cortex.