GraphEffect, a Santa Monica-based startup that connects marketers, is debuting a new social network for marketers today, and opening up their API to developers who want to build apps for their platform. The collaboration platform is targeted at brands, media buyers, and creatives who work on digital media and advertising campaigns, and helps them track progress, create to-do lists, and run Facebook ad campaigns.
According to co-founder James Borow, the company was originally founded in 2010 as a way to help advertisers leverage Facebook marketing. Over time, they realized that the key to social advertising was creating content, and distributing it via sponsored stories. They began building what has grown into collaboration software for social marketers, which helps Fortune 500 brands and agencies including Walmart, Samsung and GE manage their campaigns and Facebook pages, analyze content, turn that content into ads, and optimize their ads.
Today they’re opening up their collaboration tool, which was previously only available to large brands and agencies, to everyone, and also making their API available to developers who want to build apps for the platform. “We’ve come to realize that not only can you use GraphEffect for people to work together on Facebook advertising, but if people begin building on top of our API, people can collaborate on anything. can use it work on anything,” Borow said in an interview. “We think ultimately we have an opportunity to build a social network for marketers to make their lives incredibly efficient and really help them stay on top of what is becoming a very complex world.”
For marketers using the platform, it’s all about connecting them to their team members, and allowing them to communicate with third parties like brands and design firms. Users can see the teams and people they’re working with, and send messages to and from agencies or companies without them having to sign up for GraphEffect. Each individual has an inbox showing their latest project updates, messages, and items to follow up on, and users can save content to come back to later within their stream of updates.
The platform’s team pages let teams send messages to everyone, or follow up with one person on the team by adding a “Sidebar” message to a specific member, allowing them to, for example, add a comment they don’t want the whole team to see. The team pages also feature two applications, Ad Manager and Story Manager, which help agencies and brands organize and track large Facebook campaigns from within the platform.
The platform is free to use, and the startup charges for use of individual applications, for example charging a fee on media spend in the Ad Manager app. By opening up the API to all developers, the company is hoping that they will add several more apps for marketers. Borow said they will also offer enterprise-level services for larger clients.
GraphEffect has raised over $14 million in funding from investors including Founder Collective, Lerer Ventures and Thrive Capital. Borow said they’re competing with both social marketing platforms and collaboration platforms, but he doesn’t believe there’s one definitive competitor. While he might not view one company as a direct competitor, there are collaboration platforms like Yammer, Asana and Basecamp that are trying to connect teams across organizations, and already have big brands and marketers on board. With its free platform, GraphEffect’s price tag will obviously be appealing to clients, and if they can get developers building more apps for a marketer’s toolkit, they could find success not just with Fortune 500 clients, but with smaller brands and agencies around the world.