The company is only emerging from stealth mode today, but founder and CEO Karl House told me he’s done something similar before, when he served as head of sales and business development at YouTube network Kin Community. At Kin, he worked with the popular YouTube comedy duo Smosh to build its site and “evolve them into a media brand.”
“We look at influencers very much as a publisher,” he said. “They’ve done the hard work of building a social footprint, but the vast majority of them don’t have an owned-and-operated property.”
But if someone has hundreds of thousands of followers on a social network, is it really that important to drag the audience on their own site? Maybe not, if they just like being popular. But if they want to make money, or even if they’re just aiming to build “a deeper bond with their fans,” then House argued creating a standalone website starts to make sense.
So FanBread offers its own website builder, which House demoed for me. Setting up a site looks pretty straightforward, as does adding your own merchandise, videos (embedded via YouTube), and so on.
But as House himself acknowledged, there are other site builders out there. More interesting is what FanBread offers on top of that, including a content marketplace where you can find blog posts created by the FanBread team to run on your own site.
“What we’re not trying to do is dupe the fans into thinking all of a sudden, I’m a blogger,” House said, noting that each post comes with proper attribution.
So what’s the point? Well, it gives visitors something to read, something you can use to start a conversation, and something you can post on social networks to increase your engagement. (On the other hand, duplicate content could hurt your Google ranking, which is why these stories are tagged to avoid being crawled by search engines.)
FanBread can also help these influencers make money through native, mobile and video advertising, merchandise sales and affiliate links. Asked about Niche (recently acquired by Twitter) and other social media ad companies, House suggested he aims to build something that’s “truly a platform,” allowing advertisers to work with many more creators and publishers, rather than just a few big names.