Shoutlet Favors Breadth of Services Over Depth With Its Facebook Page Management Platform

Shoutlet is a licensable enterprise social media management tool that lets brands control their presences on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social sites from a single dashboard. I sat down with Shoutlet’s COO and President Aaron Everson to discuss his company’s comprehensive approach to Facebook Page Management.

Rather than focus on deep functionality in areas such as roles and permissions, ecommerce, or customer service, Shoutlet has instead aimed to integrate a wide breadth of services. This lets it meet the needs of a diverse set of brands. However, not having a specialization could hinder Shoutlet from developing a core customer base, and also make it vulnerable to commoditization. The company also lacks its own Ads API tool or a partnership with a major Ads API tool or service provider, which keeps it from providing a highly monetizable essential service.

The company currently faces big decisions regarding whether to build, partner, or buy other companies in order to provide Ads API services, branded games, or ecommerce checkout within Facebook. While waiting could prevent it from making a costly misstep, Shoutlet risks being outcompeted by nimbler specialty tools or larger Page management companies willing to invest to become best-in-breed in certain areas.

Company Profile

Founded in January 2010, the Madison, Wisconsin-based Shoutlet has since grown to 50 employees and is aiming to grow to 75 this year. It has taken $9.2 million in funding over two rounds and its customers include AAA, American Family Insurance, Nissan, Burger King, and Four Seasons. Shoutlet is a Facebook Preferred Developer Consultant and also has access to the Facebook Ads API, though it hasn’t built anything with it yet.

The company saw brands employing multiple specialty social media management services at once to meet their goals. It believed a single solution that handled publishing, promotions, app building, ecommerce and more would provide more efficiency and convenience to brands. The tool Shoutlet built can be licensed starting at $15,000 a year for small businesses, and $40,000 a year for enterprise. Sub-licenses for franchises or local agents start at $10,000 each, with discounts for clients requiring hundreds of sub-accounts

Service Offering

Shoutlet covers most of the bases necessary for brands to execute their social media strategy. Here are the core services that it offers:

Facebook Page Design and Publishing – Pre-made landing tab templates, scheduled publishing fan gating, no cap on the number of Pages a client can create. These features are relatively standard, though the templates make it extremely simple for brands to start converting visitors into fans.

Custom Web, Page Tab, and News Feed Apps – Drag-and-drop widget creation using templates for email signups, polling, content distribution and more; Page tab apps for contests, user generated content submission, and sweepstakes. Web apps my be Shoutlet’s biggest strength. Its widgets can be shared to the news feed and used in-line, which is important as so much engagement with brands happens through the news feed and not on Page tab apps.

Its apps are also HTML5-ready, so they can be accessed via mobile. Shoutlet doesn’t offer any branded game templates, though. These can help brands increase engagement with their Pages and gain exposure in the news feed — two reasons why Shoutlet competitor Vitrue recently bought game developer GamesThatGive.

Ecommerce – Pre-made store front templates with built in Facebook social plugins for sharing, the ability to import a data feed of products. Users can click through a product to visit its product page on a brand’s website, but they can’t checkout from within Facebook. This adds extra friction to the checkout process, but allows Shoutlet’s clients to better control the transaction process. Everson tells me Shoutlet is waiting to see what Facebook does next with its native ecommerce tools before investing in development of an in-Facebook checkout process.