A short, fascinating, interview with Gavin Hammar, Founder & CEO of Sendible, the social media management tool that is used by more than 20,000 companies worldwide.
1. Where did you get the idea for Sendible?
Before ‘social media’ was even a term, I noticed that there were more and more social networks cropping up, each allowing users the ability to post updates. Facebook was just starting to gain momentum and Twitter had not yet become mainstream. I had the idea to build desktop software to allow users to post to multiple services at once, saving them the hassle of having to log in to multiple services and post updates manually.
I used my experience having built banking integration systems to develop a robust platform that could integrate with any API. This meant that it could evolve to support all social networks, blogging platforms and even email and SMS. The reason I chose the name Sendible was because it made sending any type of message possible (‘send-ible’). Having developed the core engine, I then built a basic website around it and released it to the public for free in the middle of 2008. Shortly after launching, articles were written about Sendible on Techcrunch, Mashable and ReadWriteWeb.
2. What makes it different from other social media engagement dashboards?
Unlike other products in our space which only focus on Facebook and Twitter, Sendible integrates with just about every social network out there and because of the way our platform has been built, we are able to add new integrations very quickly. For this reason, our technology enables us to take our users’ feedback on board and add new features quickly. We also provide a white label solution that allows agencies to offer their own branded version of our dashboard to their clients. We have also developed innovative automation features that assist with social media lead generation. We are the only platform to offer this.
3) Interestingly, you offer SMS and email features. Do you see clients combining these with social in innovative ways?
Email is still one of the most powerful forms of marketing. This is because you’re reaching people’s inboxes directly. Keeping on top of social media can be very time consuming and since it is so fast-moving, you have very little opportunity to get your message seen. Although social media marketing is extremely targeted and allows you to reach your precise audience, it still doesn’t scale in the same way that email does.
The open and click-through rates for email is still much higher than social media. The reason is because users of social media are in “browsing” mode. They don’t really want to be taken away from their news feed – so even if your message is seen, they may open a link, glimpse at it and then go back to their news feed.
With email, however, users are in a different mode and more likely to take action on the links you’ve shared via your email campaign. SMS is even more effective than email as you’re assured that your message is being read. For this reason, we have included email and SMS features in the dashboard and are working on ways to make these technologies even more effective when combined with social media marketing.
Our users have been using social media as a lead generation tool to collate those leads on Sendible to build up mailing lists for email and SMS. By combining these together, they are seeing much better results than they would without making use of this targeted social media data.
4) What’s your take on Facebook’s shift towards on pay-to-play? Have you noticed any changes in how your clients use Facebook?
Yes, we have seen a trend towards businesses accepting the fact that they need to spend money on advertising to effectively grow their audiences on both Facebook and Twitter. To be effective on Facebook, in particular, the key is to share interesting, powerful images that stand out from the other posts in the stream.
With users spending more and more time on mobile, we are seeing social networking companies investing heavily in this area and, as a result, we should see improved user experiences on these devices with new niche, mobile-only social networks cropping up. As these new companies start to gain traction, they’ll be snapped up by the larger players, just as apps such as Whatsapp and Instagram were.
5) There’s always something new around the corner in social media. What’s the most exciting development you predict for the next 6-12 months?
In 2014, it’s all about visual content. The key is to share interesting, powerful images that stand out from the other posts in the stream. We are also expecting social media advertising to really take off in 2014 and become almost as important as PPC. Businesses will need to get used to the idea of paying for their social media content to be seen. The most effective social media campaigns will require some ad spend and will target a specific audience. As the year progresses we will start seeing and more targeted ads within the stream on both Facebook and Twitter.
Now that users are comfortable sharing things on Facebook, they will be seeking a more private social graph. In addition, we expect to see Path increasing in popularity as the ad-free platform has the privacy of Whatsapp (messaging, sharing photos, music and videos) along with the features of Facebook. With an increased number of ads appearing within the stream, it will become even more difficult for users to see what’s important.
With younger people seeking more private social networks where they can contact their friends without their parents watching, we will continue to see an exodus of teenagers from Facebook. As the teens leave, Facebook will become less appealing to older generations. Facebook understands this – hence the reason for the acquisitions of Instagram, Whatsapp and the unsuccessful acquisition [attempt] of Snapchat.
Disclaimer: Our Social Times uses Sendible and this post forms part of our on-going partnership with them.