The prevailing wisdom in the social media marketing world is that the interpersonal connectivity social platforms provide can give companies the ability to build community around their brand and turn customers into word-of-mouth advocates. But companies who are smart about building community also know that you can lay a foundation by building from within. Empowering employees to help you spread the good word about your product or service is a more intuitive step. They’re bought in. They probably want the company to succeed. And whether you incentivize social participation or not, many employees are going to pitch in and help out.
Unless of course you treat them like crap. But let’s assume you don’t for a moment.
GaggleAMP is a platform custom made for brand managers and marketers looking to build advocacy through employee, vendor and even customer networks. The concept is to build a network of people who will amplify your message — post links to your blog, retweet your messages, share your links on Facebook or LinkedIn. It’s not much different than the old school Digg vote networks and you-scratch-my-back circles of the social news gaming of old. Only this tool makes it easier for that to happen and is predicated on the notion that employees or other stakeholder groups may voluntarily participate in a company’s social love.
Get a group of stakeholders who agree to promote your stuff. Sign them up for a “Gaggle” on GaggleAMP and start posting messages. Those stakeholders get emails telling them they have a message to share. They can elect to share it, not share it, or even not share it and provide feedback as to why not, but anonymously. Stakeholders can elect to automatically repost your messages on their networks, which has brought some criticism from the purists out there. But the employee controls it and if the purists made all the rules, we’d all go out of business at some point. Heh.
Another neat feature of the tool is that it tracks points based on the stakeholder’s participation. If the company doesn’t pay attention to these points, no harm, no foul. But if they want to do so, they can assign those points to rewards or recognition programs to incentivize participation from the employees or stakeholder groups. You could reward employees who share the most or have the biggest network to share posts with. You could also incentivize vendor or partner participation and offer budget considerations to the partners who amplify your message most.
Granted, the whole notion of a company pushing their corporate messages out through employees is a bit weird. But GaggleAMP’s founder and president Glenn Gaudet assured me they only advocate for user control and would not advise companies force anything. In fact the tool is not built to do that.
“There’s nothing in our technology that allows a company to force that,” he told me. “That goes against the whole concept of it being an opt-in service. We believe in permission-based marketing.”
Further, GaggleAMP has built user privacies into the tool. For the rewards points system, a company can certainly tell which individual has the biggest reach, highest point totals, etc. But when pulling analytics or participation reports, the data is anonymized at the user level.
“We don’t betray the user’s privacy,” he affirmed. “We are taking aggregated information.”
The analytics reports show companies how many have shared, where and to how many people. Click-thrus and traffic can be extrapolated from the data as well, giving brands a more realistic look at how their stakeholders are helping the cause.
GaggleAMP offers a neat platform that makes it easy to build an opt-in network of employees, partners or even customers willing to share your social messages with their network. It’s a simple system for message distribution with some nice metrics to help you quantify your sharing a bit. So long as it remains opt-in and controlled at the user level, it’s a service that could not only serve companies but also content promoters who in years past have had to rely on the clunkiness of Google Groups, IM and Twitter DMs to pimp their wares.
But the temptation, as GaggleAMP deals with more brands, will be to take their money in exchange for a brand-centric management model. Sorry to say, but there are simply too many companies out there looking for an easy button, a fast way out and willing to take advantage of employees to find them. Hopefully GaggleAMP can remain true to what Gaudet says it is.
The use of the tool with our Social Media Explorer authors proved useful, too. We found some inherent flaws in what we would have liked from the platform. The end user doesn’t have the ability to edit the message, so it’s straight retweet, repost or nothing. And a couple of us were not able to easily see a check list of what we had shared versus what we had not. While that functionality proved to be present, a few of us couldn’t figure out how to see it. Minor issues, both, in the grand scheme of things, but certainly worth noting if you’re considering using GaggleAMP.
We found one similar competitor out there, but not one based on the notion of a company/corporate use. TellMyCircle.com offers friend-to-group link sharing, much like GaggleAmp. But it doesn’t appear to be built for enterprise or corporate management. Existing competition from the Yammers, Chatters and other internal collaboration platforms of the world certainly exists as well. While those are not positioned to be share-first platforms, it’s not a stretch to run the same type of “Share Our Content” groups and feeds with those tools.
For usage-based pricing, $25 per month will get you a few Gaggles. Unlimited use starts at $150 per month for a 25-person Gaggle and goes up from there. So, the pricing may make it attractive to some companies as a supplement to their collaboration software, or if they’re really focused on promotion and not as concerned with collaboration, GaggleAMP makes a lot of sense.
You can try GaggleAMP for free at their website.
What say you? Is a tool like this just temptation for corporate control freaks to take advantage of employees or a legit approach for building internal and external referral networks in the social sphere? The comments, as always, are yours.