Zavy tracked the social pulse of political parties last year with its election tracker website

The agency tracking social media sentiment in real time

Every week on The Primer we ask a local business or product to introduce themselves in eight simple takes. This week we talk to David Bowes, CEO of insights agency Zavy, which helps businesses understand in simple, visual terms what all this social media fuss is about. 

ONE: How did Zavy start and what was the inspiration behind it?

The inspiration came from client requests. They understood the importance of social media marketing but didn’t understand how all their work was coming together to build their brand and whether they were winning against their competitors. We tried to answer these questions using tools [available to us] in the market at the time but found they were too operational in their approach. They were great for deploying posts and managing social communities but didn’t provide any direction on how to optimise social media to get a better ROI. So we built our own!

TWO: Did you have any interest/experience in business or entrepreneurship prior to starting Zavy?

I had a lot of interest but no experience in entrepreneurship. I’ve worked in the corporate sector both here in New Zealand and overseas, but Zavy is my first experience in a startup business.

Zavy CEO David Bowes (Photo: Supplied)

THREE: What makes Zavy different from native social media analytics platforms/other analytics services out there?

Given we were born out of an insights agency, we were never interested in just aggregating and reporting back on social media metrics, which is the market norm. We’ve created a line of sight that understands how social media metrics impact brand perceptions and, most importantly, on transactional data such as sales. This includes studying the social media and sales results of almost 2,000 New Zealand business. From our work, we’ve created a unique IP and are able to provide direction to clients on how to use social media grow their brands.

FOUR: Why are visuals/design so important to the way Zavy presents their data?

Coming from an insights background, I’ve used a lot of insight tools and found myself disengaging from the ones that were clunky, technical, and overly complex. I sometimes felt that despite being overwhelmed with data and numbers, they still couldn’t answer my fundamental business questions like: ‘Is my business winning?’ Data visuals should tell a story and provide the direction that people need. The simpler the better. As a result, the mantra for Zavy designers and developers has always been to give our clients the answer they want with just a few mouse clicks.

Zavy’s Election 2017 analysis. The big jump for Labour from July/August onwards was likely a result of Jacinda Ardern’s leadership takeover (Photo: Zavy.co/blog)

FIVE: What are some significant social/digital media trends you’ve noticed lately? Are there any insights that have stood out to you in particular?

I think number one has to be data privacy. We’ve all seen the stories that have plagued the likes of Facebook recently. Being a less established industry, there hasn’t always been [enough] rigour and focus. It’s important that best practice is applied so that it gives users and commercial partners the confidence they deserve. We can then start focusing on other important things, like independent and consistent measurement.

SIX: Facebook’s recent changes to its newsfeed algorithm has had massive implications for businesses and publishers (including The Spinoff!). What advice would you give to brands when approaching Facebook now?

For me, it further highlights the importance of producing relevant and engaging content. There’s no better way of getting into Facebook newsfeeds than if people engage with your work. Reach and market presence is key to brand building, but its impact is multiplied if you provoke a positive emotion and memory – that’s when people engage with your activity. This is where good content comes in.

Zavy was a 2016 Data Insight Visualisation Awards finalist (Photo: Zavy.co/blog)

SEVEN: Do you have any other plans to scale/grow further and if so, what are they?

There’s still of lot of potential for us in New Zealand, but we’re looking to enter the Australian market this year and then expand on from there. Zavy is very much an international play.

EIGHT: Lastly, tell us about a start-up or business that you really admire right now.

I love the work that Paydar is doing – great use of AI on transactional data to help businesses understand and benchmark their performance. I know the folk running Paydar and think their vision is spot on.


The Spinoff’s business content is brought to you by our friends at Kiwibank. Kiwibank backs small to medium businesses, social enterprises and Kiwis who innovate to make good things happen.

Check out how Kiwibank can help your business take the next step.


The Spinoff’s business section is enabled by our friends at Kiwibank. Kiwibank backs small to medium businesses, social enterprises and Kiwis who innovate to make good things happen.

Check out how Kiwibank can help your business take the next step.

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