Founders of social media service GaggleAMP

GaggleAMP vice presidents Robert Schuman (far left), Jason Nochlin (middle) and president and founder, Glenn Gaudet

Earlier this week I wrote about a new social media marketing service called GaggleAMP which recently launched it’s public beta with the aim of making it easier for marketers to broaden the reach of their online communications. It’s an interesting idea and one which I was keen to find out more about. So I chatted with Glenn Gaudet, President and Founder of GaggleAMP and started by asking him where the name of the company comes from…

Gaudet: A gaggle is used to describe a group, and technically, a gaggle is the term used to describe a group of geese. It also is used to describe a group of people. Here in the USA, the White House Press Corps is called the “Press Gaggle”. The name describes a group of people in a fun and non-commonplace way. The AMP is short for amplify. When you put this together, what GaggleAMP does is amplify messages by use of a group of people. I loved the name from the start!

It’s free to sign up with GaggleAMP at the moment and there’s no reference to payment on the site. Past the beta phase, what monthly or annual subscriptions fees come into effect?

Gaudet: After the beta period, we are planning on having both a free offering and a series of premium subscription-based offerings based on feature set and size of the Gaggle. We are exploring what these offerings will be, so stay tuned!

A recent interview in the Boston Herald quoted a VP with PR firm GolinHarris, one of your beta customers, discussing his experience with GaggleAMP. Presumably PR agencies and in-house communications staff are your core audience. Outside of PR agencies what other types of businesses have signed up to GaggleAMP to date?

Gaudet: We are seeing many different types of companies and organizations sign up. New companies sign up every day. In addition to B2C and B2B companies in which this is a natural fit, we also see non-profits and political campaigns signing up. Companies that use GaggleAMP effectively have some social media effort underway and dedicated resources for crafting regular messages. GaggleAMP, while easy to use for the company and the Gaggle Members, does require a basic knowledge of social media marketing on the company’s part.

How many customers do you currently have and what is the average ‘Gaggle’ size?

Gaudet: A Gaggle always starts off with one member. The Gaggle Manager is, by default, the first member. While we are in beta, we encourage companies to start by inviting just a few members into their Gaggle and then add more as they see how powerful it can be. Most companies follow our advice. A Gaggle size between 50-100 people after a month of use is not uncommon. However, GaggleAMP can easily support thousands of members in a single Gaggle.

This is a 100% opt-in service for individuals to wish to form part of a company/brand Gaggle. How have companies gone about growing their Gaggle since the site launched? Any particularly creative approaches?

Gaudet: We are seeing a variety of ways that companies are using to recruit their Gaggle Members. The most obvious one is via email. We even provide companies with suggested copy for this. Companies are also using social media to recruit Gaggle Members. We see messages on all the major social media networks from companies that are inviting others into their Gaggle. Some companies are even posting these messages in their Gaggle so that Gaggle Members become part of the recruiting process. Keep in mind that generally speaking, only people that have an affinity for a company will want to join their Gaggle. Companies decide how public or private they want to make their Gaggle by how accessible they make the invitation.

One of the points I previously raised was that individual members of a Gaggle may soon grow tired of receiving brand/company notifications from the site and opt-out. However you say this isn’t the case?

Gaudet: GaggleAMP provides rich feedback to the companies that use it. Because Gaggle Members are 100% opt-in, even at the message level, companies see which messages are shared and which are not. The better companies will adjust their messaging to accommodate the sharing profile of their Gaggle Members. All of us as individuals own our own social graph and footprint. I am a member of many Gaggles. I pick and choose those messages that best fit into the criteria that I set (not the Gaggle Manager). Ultimately, my decision to share or not share a message is just that – my decision. We also make it easy for Members to set how often they are notified about new messages. GaggleAMP batches message notifications together every few hours, so if 3 messages are posted in a short period of time, the Gaggle Member will only get one email.

One of the most interesting features of the site, in my option, is the ability to incentivize sharing to a certain extent, setting rewards for Gaggle members who share your message online. Essentially this motivates people to engage with the site and to share more messages. What kind of rewards are your customers currently offering and do you find that the results of an individual campaign are greatly effected by the quality/value of the prize?

Gaudet: The Reward Management feature in GaggleAMP is great, but not all companies will use this. Keep in mind that to join a Gaggle, you will have some affinity to the company and a basic desire to want to share their messages. That said, a reward can create some additional excitement and fun around the sharing of messages. Rewards that we have seen range from getting a mention in a monthly company newsletter, to T-shirts, to even dinner with the company founder. The Reward Management feature was built to accommodate a variety of reward types and can even allow for multiple level of rewards. Again, rewards make sharing more exciting and fun, but the biggest factor in getting a member to share a message has been the quality of the messages. If you are a bank and posting that your interest rate has changed yet again, you will be hard-pressed to get anyone to share those messages.

Measurability is key to success in any PR or marketing campaign. A nice feature of this service is the in-built analytics, tell me a little more about the reporting functionality.

Gaudet: We are very focused on analytics at GaggleAMP. The value of analytics is to help make better decisions in the future. GaggleAMP takes this to new levels. We continue to add more analytics on a near-weekly basis. We collect all of the information that one would expect, number of shares, reach, click-through rates, etc. We also break down data by social media network. This is incredibly powerful as it can show respective reach and impact on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, allowing companies to make better message placement decisions. We also collect data from Gaggle Members who wish to share with the Gaggle Managers feedback on why they did not want to share a message.

My initial thought on GaggleAMP was that credibility is a key factor in that it might soon become apparent that an individual on a social networking site regularly posting about a particular brand/company has a vested interest or association with that company and as such their online ‘endorsement’ of whatever message may be effectively diluted in terms of impact or even ignored. What are your thoughts on this based on your learning’s to date?

Gaudet: We actually have seen quite the opposite. Again, I think this comes down to good messaging strategy from the companies. If companies were posting “Buy xxx” or “50% off”, then I would expect to see what you describe. However, companies are using social media to promote interesting content that people want to get access to and share. The interesting side effect for me is that I have gained followers on Twitter by tweeting more from the Gaggles I belong to.

Some interesting trends must be emerging in terms of Gaggle habits – the type of messages people are reluctant to share, the average size of an individual members network, the frequency of sharing and so on?

Gaudet: We are seeing some amazing things on trends and social media usage. We are planning on making some of this aggregated data available in the future. It will be powerful information that will help Gaggle Managers understand how they are doing in comparison with their industry and overall GaggleAMP usage.

Finally, the site has gone from strength to strength since launching in 2010 and congratulations to you on your success to date. What was the most challenging thing for you in trying to get the business off the ground and how did you overcome it? Do you plan to expand the site’s offering to integrate with other social networks or social bookmarking sites?

Gaudet: You are kind to raise this point. All of us here are working very hard to provide an unparalleled solution to companies and their Gaggle Members.

Success is bred by having a great solution to a real problem, which we do. I tell anyone that wants to start a company to focus on your core team. A company is not a one-person entity. The initial hires will make or break the company. I have been blessed with a founding team that is both talented and passionate in everything we do.

GaggleAMP was designed from its inception to accommodate as many social media networks as the market dictates. We can quickly add support for additional networks based on customer demand.

Check out GaggleAMP for yourself and let me know what you think.