Hearsay, a startup backed by Sequoia Capital, is emerging from stealth mode today and launching its first product. That’s Hearsay Social, a service that helps large corporations manage the social media presence of their local branches and franchises.
Chief executive and co-founder Clara Shih said she first saw the need for Hearsay Social after the publication of her book The Facebook Era, which outlines how companies can take advantage of social networks. While she was on-tour, Shih said she kept hearing the similar complaint from businesses — that their local offices were building their own social media presences, and that there was no easy way to manage them.
In other words, companies think it’s great each branch has its own Facebook Page or Twitter account, but they need to make sure that those accounts match the broader company message, and in some cases they’re legally required to archive that content too.
So Hearsay Social creates an online dashboard for managing everything. Companies can now suggest messages that their local offices can post on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, then those someone at each branch can log in, custom the message to their local needs, and then post directly from Hearsay. Hearsay Social customers can also create workflows to flag any comments that might be inappropriate — for example, Hearsay could flag any local messages with swearing, and then a manager could look at each message and approve or disapprove them on a case-by-case basis. The dashboard also archives all the messages for compliance purposes and it includes analytics, so companies can see which branches have an active social media presence and which ones might need a little help.
The product has been in development for about 18 months, Shih said, and last year a few customers started to use it — including two big insurance companies, State Farm and Farmers Insurance, as well as 24 Hour Fitness.
Hearsay is based in San Francisco and has raised a round of about $3 million led by Sequoia.