Hearsay Social Raises $18 Million, Can Now Run Facebook Ads for Corporate / Local Pages

Hearsay Social, an enterprise software-as-a-service Facebook Page and social media management company, has raised an $18 million Series B round led by New Enterprise Associates. The money will be used to hire for its sales and engineering teams, and NEA’s Jon Sakoda will join the board, bringing along enterprise sales experience

Hearsay Social also added several new features to its product for companies with a corporate / local structure, including granular roles management, and the ability to run integrated social campaigns that combine Facebook ads, Page posts, and Page tab applications.

The funding and features will help Hearsay Social address the social marketing needs of more corporations that oversee many local branches, and box out more general brand-focused Facebook Page management companies.

Hierarchical Page Management

Hearsay Social launched in February to become the only company focused on addressing the problems of local branch social media management and regulatory compliance for companies with both a corporate Facebook Page and Pages for each of their franchises. Corporations could use it to monitor the performance of their local branches, and deliver Page posts and applications to them for publishing.

With unique features, powerful Silicon Valley angels backing it, and deep-pocketed potential corporate clients, Hearsay Social had the power to disrupt more established players in the Facebook Page management industry. Early results showed that the product could help corporations achieve full regulatory compliance across their social media presences and attain more fans.

At that time, Facebook had no user interface or API designed for managing businesses with a hierarchical corporate / local structure. Hearsay Social worked with Facebook, and earlier this month the social network began testing both a basic UI for managing “parent” and “child” Pages, as well as an API that lets corporate admins make changes to settings or install applications on multiple local branch Pages simultaneously.

While these additions provides some rudimentary corporate / local functionality for those without a third-party tool, the API also strengthens Hearsay Social’s product. Facebook’s native tool only supports two-tier hierarchies, while Hearsay Social can support many levels and different sets of permissions for each.

Funding and Features

NEA and previous investor Sequoia Capital have just put $18 million towards building out the Hearsay Social team, currently led by CEO Clara Shih, author of The Facebook Era. Shih tells us that “on the hiring front, sales and engineering are top priorities, but we’re hiring across the board, every department.” NEA’s Sakoda, formerly of IMlogic, acquired by Symantec, will lend enterprise sales expertise to the growing team tasked with getting huge, often multi-national corporations to execute their social media marketing through Hearsay Social.

Thanks to the product’s new integrated social campaigns feature, clients can schedule and run coordinated marketing campaigns that tie together Facebook ads, Facebook Page tab applications, and Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn posts. For example, State Farm insurance could install a promotional Facebook app on the Pages of all its local branches, run localized Facebook ads pointing to the app, and post links to the app on the news feed from all the Pages every four hours.

Shih explained to us that this “lets corporate bundle up its marketing genius” and ship it out to local branches that wouldn’t be able to design or execute such sophisticated campaigns. Ads are run through the Facebook Ads API, which allows the roughly two dozen companies with access to efficiently run Facebook ads at a massive scale. Apps used in integrated campaigns can be pulled from Hearsay Social’s basic suite, but clients can also integrate apps developed for them by their agencies.

Hearsay Social now also include the Rogue Page Finder, which identifies local branches with social media presences that haven’t yet been brought under a corporation’s control, as well as unofficial fan-created presences. Corporations can monitor the performance and regulatory compliance of these presences on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp, so they can decide whether to contact the hosting Platform and have them shut down or rolled into their own official presence.

Lastly, Hearsay Social now lets clients customize granular roles and permissions for all users. They can permit admins at certain levels of hierarchy to post, edit, view analytics, and use other specific parts of the product. Shih tells us one client is using the feature to set up different roles for all twelve levels of its hierarchy.

The tool has proved useful for attaining Facebook fans. Hearsay Social says that local branch agents using it gained over three times more fans than those without it. Once Google+ releases brand pages and an API, Hearsay Social will support that platform as well. Shih tells us “Brands are asking about Google+. People are kicking the tires and trying to understand if there will be traction.”

Shih believes her licensable tool can integrate naturally into the marketing flows of large corporations, and that it “leaves plenty on the table for media buyers and creative agencies.” Regarding the trend of partnerships and acquisitions in the Page management industry, Shih says there’s a”healthy level of consolidation. In terms of the landscape, I still see a number of Page management companies that can’t divest themselves from the agency model, which makes them less attractive. You really need to work closely with a brand’s ecosystem of partners.”

She adds that there’s room for other Page management companies because there’s “plenty of brands without a local presence. We’re laser focused on global-local brands, and we can go deep because of our focus.”

Local branches are able to cultivate an intimate connection between a brand and its customers. Taking advantage of location-based technology such as Facebook Places and Check-In Deals and running coordinated marketing campaigns requires more expertise than most local branch managers have, though, so expect growth for corporate / local Page management tools like Hearsay Social as more global businesses invest in social media.

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