If you're a realtor, insurance agent or a branch manager using Facebook, LinkedIn or other social-networking profiles as marketing tools, one of the best ways to show your customers just how smart and well-read you are is to showcase a list of articles related to your industry.
Now it's easy to do that with Hearsay Social, a marketing firm founded in 2009 that helps manage social network profiles for feet-on-the-street sales agents or local store managers of major brands in mainly the financial, real estate, insurance and automative industries.
San Francisco-based Hearsay announced Friday its Content Exchange, a way for corporate marketing managers to select articles they can put into a central library that can be accessed by their sales teams or local managers around the country.
“Content is the curreny of Web conversations,” said Clara Shih, co-founder and CEO, in an interview with me. "Social media is about media that’s dynamic and fresh and continually driving conversational engagement."
Indeed, these days many people get their news and information from what's being shared by their friends or people they follow or are connected with. The content can often be the bridge that creates a deeper relationship between the person reading and the one sharing. Corporate managers know this well, and often spend a lot of time curating pre-approved articles for their team to distribute to their client base in order to engage them. By using Content Exchange, the idea is that the content, curation, management, tracking and delivery to often thousands of profiles becomes a lot more efficient.
As an example, take a look at Farmers Insurance Group, which has 5,000 agents who have social media profiles. "Up until two weeks ago, the marketing team had to hand curate the articles," said Shih. "They had to go on Google News and go on their blog and search for content and copy and paste it into our system. What we realized was there was a lot of manual tedious processes… So, we built the Content Exchange... We will do for content and social media marketers what iTunes did and does for songs and DJ's."
To streamline the process, Hearsay has partnered with Demand Media, Thomson Reuters and Tribune Media Services to get access to their content. Reuters and Tribune don't have content that is freely available for agents to access. But because Hearsay's Fortune 500 customers already pay for premium content from these publications, the corporate marketers can distribute that content to the social media profiles.
Through the publication partnerships, corporate managers can also discover, sort and filter content by date, topic and location. They can also pre-publish or schedule postings to multiple profiles across multiple social media networks, including Facebook, LindedIn, Twitter and Google+. They can also measure engagement, such as number of likes, comments and retweets from one central interface.
Three-year-old Hearsay, which has raised $18 million from Sequoia Capital and NEA, won't be charging for the new content service.
It's just a value add, said Shih. By adding more information on the profiles, Shih hopes her clients will be able to increase engagement with their own client base. It's something that Hearsay Social apparently has been able to do thus far. In a third-party study conducted by technology research firm Mainstay Sailre, "local agents, stores, and branch managers that adopted Hearsay Social saw a two to five times increase in their local fan base over locations that didn’t." Another finding was that one educational institution increased its Facebook fan base by almost 200% at sites that used Hearsay Social.
While Shih would not disclose how many customers Hearsay has or the average revenue per customer, she did say that they saw customers grow 6x in their core financials services vertical during the first three months of this year.