It feels perfectly timed that on this day we officially launch Promoted, as today we also celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. Promoted is "The Ultimate Employee Advocacy and Amplification Platform". We’re not just Employee Advocates, we are employees too. We’re a group of designers, engineers, founders, executives and at some point along the way we’ve been hired, we’ve been fired, and we’ve even been acquired. We've seen it all, we've experienced the ups and downs. But, the best experience any of us has ever had is being a part of a great team -- above all else, we’re team members; we’re a part of something special, an exclusive club.
When our Founder and CEO, Martin Ringlein, was a part of the amazing team at Twitter, he noticed a rather interestingly odd behavior. Every time he had visited a co-worker’s apartment, it was clear that they had all partook in the same scandalous activity -- stockpiling (stealing) Twitter branded coffee mugs and water bottles from the Twitter HQ cafe. This wasn’t an economic endeavor, Twitter certainly paid everyone well enough … it was pride; pride in where they worked and literally a desire to take that home with them. But Twitter, like almost all large organizations, had no mechanism to reward their team with these small, but very meaningful, “perks”. You couldn’t earn a Twitter coffee mug, you had to take it. That cultural disconnect has been festering within Martin since 2012.
Over a half-decade later, during the summer of 2019, Martin was coming off the acquisition of his most recent startup-up to Eventbrite at serendipitously the same time co-founder Will Hubbard was having his first startup-up acquired, and co-founder Mike Kapetanovic was coming off the acquisition of his company to LMO Advertising. Timing aside, what they had most in common was their experience building and growing some of the strongest teams in the industry. Not just teams that would happily work with each of them again, but with those same team members, again. They had experience building cultures that last, that transcend beyond the company itself. But, that’s not where we started.
The founding team initially teamed up with a prominent Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist to help brainstorm some pretty bold ideas around the future of mobile-commerce and specifically tapping into the influencer market to build a platform around niche marketplaces. Our first incarnation was originally named “niche”. That period of Research & Development ultimately led them down a very interesting rabbit hole of exploring the development of tools for influencers, specifically micro-influencers (to which there are surprisingly very few tools, if any). There was then the realization that if you could utilize technology to make it work at-scale, micro-influencers are actually a significantly more efficient and effective marketing engine than their larger counterparts. On average, micro-influencers are 20x more effective and generate 85% higher engagement. And, the authenticity of influencer marketing, in general, is overtaking traditional industry outlets by leaps-and-bounds. Micro-influencer followers tend to see themselves as peers of the influencer rather than "fans".
84% of consumers say they trust recommendations from peers over traditional advertising - Fullscreen
And, this is when it just clicked; we had our ah-ha moment ... what if the employees of a large company were activated (and incentivized) as micro-influencers to help the organization promote everything from their job openings to their press releases to celebrating team-member milestones and achievements? We decided to flip the script; instead of having Micro-influencers act as peers, we could enable our peers to act as micro-influencers. Today’s workforce is connected; they are loud and they are proud. Employees have gone underutilized as an organization’s single largest organic (and most passionate) marketing engine. What if in addition to salary, bonuses, and stock options, we were able to introduce a new form a currency -- access to exclusive inside perks and experiences? Anything from the sought-after branded backpack to lunch with the CEO; and heck, even trade it in for a local gift card if you were so inclined. We knew there was an opportunity to build-up brands by incentivizing & leveraging their own team’s voice. The Promoted platform activates employees as micro-influencers, amplifying their collective social reach for higher engagement.
Brand messages reached 561% further when shared by employees vs. the same messages shared via official brand channels. - Nielsen
At Twitter, the thing Martin valued more than the stock options (and the coffee mugs), was the priceless experience of having tea with Jack Dorsey talking design, Wabi-Sabi, and the distinction between Platforms and Protocols. While working during the Obama Administration, one of the most sought-after experiences (perks) was Bowling at The White House; even higher on the list, Basketball on the South Lawn or lunch in the West Wing. At Eventbrite, it was fascinating when Martin noticed that one of the most sought after perks was being able to attend their annual conference for Music organizers, FlyCon. It was a ritualistic annual showdown over who would have the opportunity to volunteer to work the event; people were fighting for the privilege to do more work to help grow their company! And as is true with almost all larger organizations … each struggle with how to reward perks and experiences; when to do so and for whom to do it. "There had to be a better way".
Employee networks have 10x as many connections as their own company’s social followers. - LinkedIn Elevate
In contrast, what the founding team found most intriguing was that at every corporate job they've ever held, it was common-place to offer a referral bonus to help with internal recruiting, but none of those companies ever simply just asked: "Hey Marty, you know a lot of designers, would you Tweet out this job posting for our open design role"? And it was that simple. If we could verify, attribute, and reward something most of us are already inclined to do organically, how much more effective could that be? And now, as an alumnus, the question would be, why does there exist no mechanism to continue to support our ex-teammates in growing their team? Once we talk about being able to connect to, verify and attribute something like a Twitter account -- it becomes exciting when we think about doing the same for say a Fitbit account and rewarding real-time employee wellness. Not everything needs to be promoted with the general public ... even having easy and rewarding ways to celebrate a team member when they hit their one-year work'versary beyond the mass-email or balloon tied to the back of their chair; it could be as simplistically elegant as triggering a 🙌 to your co-worker in the appropriate #Slack channel. The focus for the team becomes less about marketing and more about making an impact, on helping make the next hire or just helping make someone's day. It’s like a Frequent Flyer program but for Employee Engagement.
Recruitment is marketing. If you're a recruiter nowadays, and you don't see yourself as a marketer, you're in the wrong profession. - Global Head of Sourcing and Employment Brand at SAP
We built Promoted to help promote the things that matter most -- growing our team, inside and out. And matching that natural and organic pride for where we work with the perks and experiences that make the job even more special and meaningful. We’d all much rather know we earned our coffee mug.