DC-area start-up Zoobean, a company that curates children’s apps and books and personalizes selections for each child, made an appearance on Shark Tank last week. The owner-couple presented their business plan well, but initially failed to excite the majority of the Sharks. Billionaire investor Mark Cuban remained silent for most of the process, but eventually made an offer and got a deal done.
Zoobean scored $250,000 in funding in return for 25% equity in the business. Not bad for a business that, on the date of their appearance had only 85 people subscribed to their system.
As digital media professionals, we believe in the power of promotion from all angles. It’s not just about the online press release or the tweet – traditional/offline sources of exposure can be just as effective for building brand recognition, and a lot of that work can translate into online success. Shark Tank is a big win for small businesses looking for both funding and advertising.
Does a Shark Tank Appearance Help Startups Succeed in Social Media?
A few weeks ago we began to wonder just what type of effect appearing on Shark Tank has for the businesses that are featured on the show. Does site traffic soar? Does social chatter boom? Or does the traditional medium of television translate to minimal engagement on the web? When we heard that fellow UberOffices company Zoobean was going to appear, we figured that’d be a great case study, and here we are.
Monitoring Tools for Before & After
We analyzed the social metrics before and after the appearance via sharedcount.com. By doing it before, we’d be able to see if there was a spike in social mentions, likes, shares, etc in the days after an episode aired. We tracked backlink metrics using our go-to backlink checker, ahrefs.com.
Social Media Improvements
As you would expect, there was an increase in just about every measurable social media metric for Zoobean.
- 8% increase in Facebook likes
- 29% increase in Facebook shares of the Zoobean URL
- 40% increase in Total Facebook engagement
- 21% increase in Twitter followers
- 2150% increase in tweets including the Zoobean URL
Links & +1s
- 6.5% increase in +1’s on Google+ (from 75,510 to 80,427 followers!)
- 15.5% increase in backlinks
Looking at the Backlink Increase
On April 17th, the day before their appearance on the show, Zoobean had 161 domains linking to them; as of today they have 186 (and soon, thanks to the link in this article, it’ll be 187). That number will likely continue to climb as the ahrefs spider crawls more sites and identifies more new links. In the chart below, you can see a big spike in new backlinks right at April 18th. That flurry continued through the weekend and then backed off but continues to be on the rise.
And, most importantly, the company mentioned on the show that they had just 85 subscribers currently using the Zoobean app. After the show, they declined to report the exact numbers, but stated: “We are several times our customer and user base pre-Shark Tank.” If you’ll allow me to take that statement literally, I think it’d be fair to say that their subscriber base is at least 85 x 3, or 255.
This is all great news for the Zoobean team, though some of the growth was likely going to happen regardless of their television appearance. The show was filmed several months ago, so while social shares and online promotion spiked after the episode aired, general business growth was expected to happen in the months before it aired, regardless. However, in the charts above – particularly in the SEO chart – you can see based on the trajectory that the increase in links was solely due to the appearance on the show.
Check out the spike in Facebook activity right around April 18th and the subsequent days:
Additionally, in the wake of the episode, Twitter was buzzing with news about the startup.
— InTheCapital (@InTheCapital) April 23, 2014
— WashBizOnline (@WashBizOnline) April 21, 2014
— WTOP (@WTOP) April 22, 2014
This is just one company and one case study, but the effect of appearing on a relevant and highly regarded primetime show like Shark Tank can work wonders for a small startup. Even if Zoobean had received no funding from the investors, it would likely be a “win” for the business in terms of links and social buzz. And because of syndication of the show to CNBC, and reruns in the summer, they’ll likely get a nice bump each time their segment re-airs.
In the end, Mark Cuban believed in Zoobean’s mission, stating at one point, “trusted content creation is the future”. He envisions success for the young couple, and if the social boost is any indication of future profits, it looks like Mark Cuban picked a winning business to support.