SocialToaster pushes fresh content to online supporters

SocialToaster is a social marketing software platform that allows clients to recruit supporters (ambassadors) and push controlled content to those supporters' social media networks through a centralized online control panel.

Specifications
SocialToaster is a social marketing software platform that allows clients to recruit supporters (ambassadors) and push controlled content to those supporters' social media networks through a centralized online control panel. Realtime analytics include tracking and measurement of clicks, lead captures, and sales. Effectiveness reporting is included.

Cost
Based on a per-post model. Monthly plans start at $379. Clients can cap monthly spending.

Ownership
Privately held.

User
Michelle Andres, VP, digital media for the Baltimore Ravens, has been using SocialToaster since September 2011. 

How do you use it?
Our SocialToaster ambassador program is called RavensReps. I log into a dashboard with analytics and tools that allow me to enter messages to our RavensReps participants. You just fill in the appropriate field and hit send. It's that simple. 

Once a RavensReps participant clicks to agree to share a message from us, it goes out to whichever of their social networks they choose (or they can choose more than one). Participants have options about how often they want to share, and they can easily opt out. 

You have to think in terms of the message coming from the ambassador who will share it as opposed to coming from your organization. We've experimented with a million things. 

The schedule release for the NFL is big news. When ours was released the message we put out was, “Finally, the 2012 schedule has been released.” It was as simple as that. 

We worked with SocialToaster to customize the look of our emails and a sign-up widget that integrates into our website and social media properties.

There's rarely an issue, but SocialToaster is really good about being available via phone or email. It's Baltimore-based, so it's really great that we're all in the same city.   

How does it serve your business needs? 
The ability to enlist the help of our fans to distribute our messages is the primary business need SocialToaster fulfills. You can't find anybody more suited to being an ambassador than fans of an NFL team, so the concept is really fitting for us. 

It helps us reach exponentially more people, and hopefully the right kinds of people.

We recently signed a player, Ray Rice, and that was huge news. When we sent a message out on Monday, July 16, we had around 6,600 RavensReps (we now have more than 7,000). 2,965 people shared it. At the time, it was second-most shared post ever, and it garnered 3,218 visits to our site by 429 unique visitors in just a day or two. So nearly 50% of our ambassadors shared this link on their social networks.  

Promotion of our official Ravens mobile app generated 16,044 website visits, the most ever, and 1,834 links were shared. 

You can send messages according to categories. We often use the “news and information” category. There are also “contests and promotions” and “sponsorship” categories. A recent “Win an official Ravens team prize pack” announcement garnered 3,213 links shared, the most ever, and generated 2,743 website visits. 

There's also huge potential for sponsorship that presents a revenue opportunity for us. We could sell sponsorship for the entire RavensReps program, or individual sponsorships, or messaging in a category. SocialToaster has set up a number of executions for sponsors when they sign on. We haven't done it yet, but we plan to monetize it in a way that makes sense for us. We've recently had a company express interest in sponsoring the RavensReps program.

How does it integrate with your existing infrastructure from and IT standpoint? 
It's Web-based.

What are the main benefits?
Being able to enlist the help of fans because that's not always easy to do. It's such a huge group for us, and to have this opportunity to engage them and make them feel part of the process is a very nice benefit. 

It's easy to use both for us and for the ambassadors. And, they're rewarded. They get points for sharing posts. The ambassador with the most points is rewarded monthly with things such as autographed footballs, game tickets, and more.

What are the main drawbacks?
There's only one and it really isn't a SocialToaster function – it's an internal thing. You've got to integrate it into your overall strategy and allocate resources to be effective. You have to be consistent. You can't just send out a post every few weeks and think people are going to stay engaged. 

What would you like to see improved / added? 
We want to be able to schedule posts ahead of time and we want email preview functionality. SocialToaster is working on both of these.

We're limited in how many characters we can use in messages. This is a bit tricky for SocialToaster. Obviously, the 140-character Twitter restraint is part of that, but there's no constraint on Facebook. We're working with SocialToaster on figuring out how we can get a slightly longer email message. 

Competitors
GaggleAmp: A social marketing platform that provides enterprise social media message amplification and analytics.

Blue Calypso: Offers Calyp, a social sharing platform that enables consumers to share endorsement of brands and businesses. A loyalty aspect includes rewards and cash incentives for sharing.

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