What’s the best way to manage our conversations across all the websites and social networks we’re visiting? William Mougayar, founder and CEO of Engagio, says that it’s through a Gmail-style social inbox — after all, that’s the interface we use to handle most of our communication already (not that everyone’s happy about that), and heck, it’s the way many of us read our social network updates already.
Now Mougayar is taking that approach a step further. Instead of accessing their Engag.io inbox in a separate website, users can install a Chrome extension, then read Engag.io as a separate folder within Gmail itself.
I installed the extension earlier this morning, and yes, I can report that Mougayar isn’t kidding about it being Gmail-style — each social network message or update looks like an email, and each conversation is threaded, just like their email counterparts. You can reply to messages from within Gmail, as well as sharing, viewing, and “liking” them. It’s also pretty much identical to the existing Engag.io interface, but again, the new context makes a difference — it’s no longer a separate website that you have to visit, but instead just another folder in your inbox that you have to keep up with.
Engag.io can integrate with Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Hacker News, Tumblr, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and more. I only wish it had a Priority Inbox like Gmail, so that it wasn’t dominated by random people tweeting my articles. (I love people tweeting my articles! It’s just not that awesome to browse those tweets in an inbox format.)
The company is tackling the discovery problem in other ways. Today it’s also unveiling a Engagement Discovery Dashboard, where you can find friends and follow their conversations as well. This turns Engag.io into a social network, of sorts, rather than just a tool for managing your presence on other networks. (In concept, it sounds a bit like FriendFeed, though the interface is completely different.) Mougayar says that this is a good way to find the “signal from the noise” amidst social network fragmentation, because the fact that an update led to a larger conversation is a good sign that it’s interesting and relevant.
Together, Mougayar says the updates mark a new phase for the company: “It’s almost like Engag.io 2.0.” It’s also adding support for managing multiple accounts from one network, which can be particularly useful for brands and other businesses.
The company has raised $540,000 in seed funding from Rho Canada with participation from Real Ventures, Extreme Venture Partners, Bullpen Capital, Fred Wilson, Mike Yavonditte, and other individual investors.