Most community managers would agree that by the time a social network has raised $30 million in Series C funding, it’s clearly doing something very right. And since that’s just the amount that social startup Hearsay Social has just raised, the intrepid community manager will be curious to find out just what it’s doing that’s so right.
Launched in 2009 by co-founders Steve Garrity, now its CEO, and Starbucks board of directors member Clara Shih, Hearsay Social is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices in New York. Its mission? To help businesses not only achieve regulatory compliance, but build strong relationships with customers and enhance brand presence across all of the major social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, foursquare and Google+. Early on, the emphasis was on helping businesses raise the social media presence of their local branches, but it’s evolved into what it calls a “social selling platform” as well.
A dual approach
If there are any community managers out there who are a little baffled by this term, essentially Hearsay Social now helps salespeople to keep their social media presence in dynamic shape by finding relevant content and tracking the “social signals” of others in their network. As Garrity puts it, the company’s emphasis has always been on helping businesses to connect with their customers via social media on a one-to-one basis. While compliance and training formed the early core of this vision, social selling has progressively grown more central.
By fusing these approaches, Garrity believes Hearsay is doing something none of its competitors are. There are lots of companies offering social media tools for businesses, but they emphasize compliance only. Garrity’s view is that offering compliance without any other tools is like owning a car with “a great set of brakes but no engine and no steering wheel.”
A recent company study found that 64 percent of its customers have used the platform to build better customer relations and generate new leads. And those customers have doubled in number over the last twelve months alone. Businesses clearly seem to like what they find.
The $30 million Series C round was led by existing investors Sequoia Capital and New Enterprise Associates, and will be plowed into accelerating the firm’s growth with expanded customer support, sales teams and product development.