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UW-Eau Claire alumnus finds his 'Edge' in Web application design

December 19, 2012
ChadWittman
Chad Wittman, founder of EdgeRank Checker, president of Applum and co-founder of PostAcumen.

EAU CLAIRE — Businesses using Facebook to market and advertise their goods and services now have a way to gauge and improve their EdgeRank thanks to University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumnus Chad Wittman and his colleagues at Applum, a Web application design firm in Chicago.

Wittman, a 2008 business management graduate, created EdgeRank Checker in 2010 while working as vice president of social media for an advertising agency in Daytona Beach, Fla. EdgeRank is an algorithm developed by Facebook that ranks activity in the news feed. Facebook pages with high EdgeRank scores are more likely to show up in the news feed than are pages with low scores.

"I really dedicated myself to researching and understanding EdgeRank," Wittman said. "I founded EdgeRank Checker in 2010, and in 2011 teamed up with two of my co-workers at the ad agency to further develop the tool. We developed our own EdgeRank algorithm to help page administrators understand how their Facebook page interacts with the news feed. We left the ad agency, started Applum and launched the app out on the Internet."

The Applum team began researching and releasing studies on the Facebook ecosystem, which were picked up by bloggers and media outlets.

"Our product gained a lot of attention," Wittman said. "Our customer base grew and more features were added and developed. EdgeRank Checker became a successful tool businesses use to rank their engagement on Facebook. They learn how EdgeRank impacts marketing and what they can do to improve their presence."

Applum launched a second Web app in September called PostAcumen, which is a competitive Facebook analytics tool that shows businesses where they rank among others in their industry. PostAcumen allows businesses to monitor their competition and understand their competitors' strategies while providing insight to improve their own Facebook page's performance.

Wittman said he first became interested in Facebook marketing and advertising as a freshman at UW-Eau Claire when Facebook opened up to all college students. By his sophomore year, Wittman was using Facebook to advertise and sell pop-culture T-shirts. He also met several Blugold alumni who had experience in working on startup projects.

"We have some really cool people from UW-Eau Claire doing really cool things," Wittman said of his fellow alumni. "I met Brian Racer and Justin Kaufenberg, both involved in Web app design and startup companies, as an undergraduate. I contacted them when I was planning to start my own business and we talked extensively about legal matters and logistics. I even hired Justin's lawyers. UW-Eau Claire is a great environment to develop new ideas and get to know people. I am grateful for the networking opportunities.

"My advice for students thinking about starting a business is to develop a strong skill set in school and learn a lot of about your area of interest so you can bring something to the table," Wittman said. "Don't just learn about your own area of expertise, learn about the whole business. For example, if you're interested in the business side of gaming development, learn about coding and programming and design so you can speak your team's language. They'll respect you for it."

For more information on Applum's Web applications, visit the www.edgerankchecker.com and www.postacumen.com websites.

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SL/DW

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