Addvocate Launches to Help Brands Mobilize Employees on Social Networks

Today, San Francisco-based Addvocate launched its social media employee advocacy and coordinator platform in public beta. The company wants to help employers to better manage and coordinate their employees’ activity on social networks as it relates to brand awareness and adding to a company’s bottom line. The platform makes it easier to share and tie online social activity with a company’s bottom line.

Addvocate was founded by Marcus Nelson, who was previously a co-founder at customer service platform UserVoice and more recently the head of social media at Salesforce. He came up with the idea while trying to find out which of Salesforce’s employees (3,200 when he started and 8,000 when he left) were representing the brand online. “I didn’t know out of the 3,200 employees at the time…who was representing the brand on social, outside of my department, mostly because I didn’t know who the people were, I didn’t have the tools to find them,” said Nelson in an interview.

Nelson’s solution is a platform that engages employees to share brand-related or industry-related content, both to improve their personal brand and that of their employer. To do so, Addvocate has a built-in URL shortener that creates a main shortened link for each company and spins out a variation on that link every time an employee shares content. Employees can shorten links via Firefox and Internet Explorer bookmarklets, and via a native plugin for Chrome that lets employees select the content, and access internal guidelines or suggestions as to what they could say about it.

Nelson found that many employees don’t share content because they’re not sure what to say, or they don’t know if they’re within a company’s social media guidelines, something he believes Addvocate can help solve. By bringing the company’s content marketing strategy onto a single platform, Addvocate can organize and segment different groups of employees, tracking and rewarding their content sharing (only work-related content, not personal content).

“If I could measure each of your links and put a little JavaScript on your landing pages so I can interpret those links coming in, I could actually attribute that to each individual user…it would totally change the game in terms of how important social is from an ROI point of view,” Nelson added.

For its beta test, the company is using a ‘pick-what-you-pay’ sliding scale of $1-25 per employee that gets added to the platform. Nelson said the reason for the approach is to enable a Kickstarter-like response, where only people who are interested and are willing to put down some money get access.

While there are existing social media monitoring solutions like Salesforce’s Radian6, Nelson said the cost of merely tracking and creating a separate topic page for employees would be far more than what his platform offers. It certainly wouldn’t be the first to tie an employee’s social network with the bottom line, with startups like Introhive and Megree leveraging an employee’s social graph to generate sales leads and close deals.

Nelson’s vision for Addvocate goes beyond merely managing social media activity, and instead he wants to tackle broader enterprise issues that include governance and compliance, and security measures for when an employee leaves. The startup will also be looking to launch an enterprise version for companies looking to add more than 100 employees, which can be expected sometime in 2013, and will include the ability to schedule posts, and segment users. With brands increasingly looking for ways to enhance and control their online presence, Addvocate aims to help them start with their employees, something that could make social media a more measurable business activity for all parties involved.


Humayun Khan

Humayun Khan is a Senior Writer and Analyst at BetaKit. A marketing graduate with honors, Humayun's work experience spans the fields of consumer behaviour with noted contributions in an academic paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology and market research consulting having coordinated projects for a major financial services client at Decode Inc. More recently he was involved in business strategy as a Business Analyst for an equipment rental outlet and prior in the National Marketing Department at Ernst & Young LLP. He is passionate about emerging and disrupting technology and its ability to transform and create entirely new industries.

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