NEA And Sequoia Put $18M In Brand-Focused Social Media Platform Hearsay Social

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Hearsay Social, a SaaS dashboard for national businesses and their local branches to manage Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages, has raised $18 million in new funding led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) with existing investor Sequoia Capital participating. In conjunction with the funding, NEA partner Jon Sakoda is joining the Hearsay Social Board of Directors. To date, Hearsay Social has raised $21 million in funding.

Hearsay Social, which launched to the public in February, aims to help big brands who have local branches (i.e. Starbucks, BestBuy), manage Facebook, Twitter and other social media pages. Because of the highly distributed nature of some companies that have local branches, managing social media pages for stores or offices that are still in compliance with a company’s regulation is a challenging process.

Hearsay Social is optimized for “corporate/local” enterprises to allow local representatives, agents, advisors, franchisees or store managers to manage social media pages while ensuring local representatives stay in compliance with brand guidelines, and content regulations. The SaaS application puts compliance, workflow, content management and analytics on top of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

The central dashboard for brands features message archiving, keyword flagging and filtering, workflow and approval capabilities. Users can also suggest tailored campaigns to local branches and reps and access analytics on Facebook, Twitter and Facebook pages by region or sub-region.

In terms of the local branch view, Hearsay Social offers branch managers to see suggested content, and a 360-degree view of Facebook fans and friends, LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers. The platform will also allows local branch users to post updates and check if their page updates (i.e. a profanity filter) are in compliance with a chain’s social media policies. The company also inked a deal with LinkedIn to collaborate on sales and marketing efforts, as well as a full integration between Hearsay Social and the LinkedIn messaging API.

Today, Hearsay is also adding a number of new features to its software. An integrated social campaigns feature allows marketing departments to package Facebook tabs, posts, and ads into a campaign that local representatives can launch with a single click. Targeting and timing can also be pre-specified so that companies can stage campaign rollouts that reps can easily run at the local level.

One realization Hearsay Social came to when helping companies manage local stores is that many companies have district managers and regional operations that manage local branches. Because of this, the startup has catered its admin access to the district level with customizable hierarchies, roles, and entitlements.

Additionally, Hearsay Social can now identify rogue social media pages that represent the company’s brand but are outside corporate control. Any infractions or correspondence on those pages are also captured by Hearsay.

Hearsay Social was founded by former Google and Salesforce employee Clara Shih and former Microsoft staffer Steve Garrity. Shih says that as she was writing The Facebook Era, she saw that there was a market to better serve corporate-local brands.

Hearsay has convinced some financial services companies already and is being used by State Farm, and Farmers Insurance Group of Companies (as well as fitness chain 24 Hour Fitness). Shih tells us that the new funding will be used to double the company’s head count to 80 employees by the end of the year.