EverySignal’s smart social alerts mean you never need to miss an important life moment again

By Michael Carney , written on October 30, 2012

From The News Desk

The volume of content passing through most social networks is growing more and more unmanageable. The average Facebook Newsfeed has become an overwhelming deluge of (mostly superficial) content. But within the unstructured mess, genuinely impactful life events are shared every day.

The problem for most users, is that with an average 380 friends in their network, these meaningful moments are hidden amid 30,000 plus posts per month. According to Facebook's EdgeRank filtering algorithms, the average post will only appear on the NewsFeeds of 12 percent of a user’s friends. Even those posts that do make the cut are then quickly buried.

EverySignal, a social search startup with big data roots, launches today to make sense of the noise. Using natural language processing and machine learning, the company promises to structure and parse that data stream into digestible and actionable bites organized around important life moments. EverySignal currently integrates with Facebook and LinkedIn, while Twitter and Pinterest integrations are said to be in the pipeline.

“Many of us post our most pressing questions and share our most poignant moments on social networks,” says co-founder and CEO Derek Merrill. “EverySignal’s goal is to better ensure the experts and friends in your network take notice and can respond to the big things.”

At the core of the product are Google News-like alerts delivered via daily or weekly summaries around 10 major life event categories: relationship, family, work, education, health, housing, location, travel, auto, and birthdays. Each alert, whether viewed within an email or at, includes links to the respective user’s profile on the originating network and to message

Users can turn alerts on or off for each category, or create custom categories based on keywords. This custom category is perhaps the most interesting bit of the new product, both from a utility and a business opportunity perspective. Professionals, such as realtors and insurance agents, will be giddy at the opportunity to set alerts for telltale keywords like “moving,” “escrow,” “agent,” or “accident.”

The company currently offers its service for free, but the opportunity to offer paid premium features such as real-time notifications and unlimited search volumes is enormous.

It may seem straightforward and trivial to simply alert users to changes in their contacts’ relationship status, or current city. EverySignal does far more than aggregate facebook notifications or appearances of a keyword. The service uses semantic analysis to interpret the meaning of status updates that are not explicitly listed as life events.

Others have tried to tackle this space, including a myriad of single-purpose tools like job-change notifiers, birthday alert services, and the like. But few, if any, have used data science to do so, instead only capturing structured changes.

The seven person Los Angeles-based startup was co-founded by Santa Monica technology studio Science Inc., which is currently its only investor. EverySignal has been in private beta for several months, and the engagement stats from its 1,000 early users seems promising. The company reports email open rates of more than 70 percent, a figure that even if it declines with broader market usage is in rarified air.

Merrill estimates that with EverySignal, the average Facebook and LinkedIn user will receive approximately five life moment alerts per day. This is a stark contrast to the 1,000-plus social stream items users currently encounter daily on average.

Given all this delicious curation and discovery magic, the company must still convince users to visit yet another destination, be it their website or a summary email, within their daily routines. This seems to be the biggest initial obstacle for the company.

Some might wonder about Facebook itself competing with the product. But doing so would be contrary the big blue social network's core mission of driving users to spend more time within its now advertisement-laden Newsfeeds, not less.

If anything, EverySignal's reliance on the Facebook and LinkedIn platforms, and eventually those of Twitter and Pinterest, pose greater long term risks for the company. On this, Merrill says that its something he's conscious of, but he is confident in the strength of his relationships with each of his current current platform partners.

Those who do use EverySignal are likely to find it extremely useful, both in its simplicity and its power. By offering users the opportunity to discover and respond to these significant moments in a timely manner, EverySignal has the potential to create deeper, richer, and easier to maintain connections. Wasn’t this the promise of social networks all along?

[Image source, Valerie Everett]