Amid an ongoing social-marketing boom, software start-up Spredfast just raised $18 million, led by OpenView Venture Partners.
Having previously raised $15 million, the social marketing specialist plans to invest further in its technology platform and staff.
Over the next few years, most forecasters see social media ad spending rising. ZenithOptimedia, for one, recently predicted that spending on social media would increase by 35% in 2013 and 2014, and by 32% in 2015.
As evidenced by Spredfast’s own research, social has become a key component of the marketing mix. In fact, according to its own Social Engagement Index, the average large company now manages social activity across 21 groups and nearly 100 social accounts.
In 2012, Spredfast reported 400% revenue growth, and a doubling in headcount to about 110 employees, the majority of whom are sales staff and engineers.
What is driving all the interest in social marketing? Chiefly, companies are realizing that social can no long be treated as a side issue, according to Rod Favaron, CEO of Spredfast. “The time is fast approaching when your customers will no longer email or call you,” Favaron said. “They will send out a signal via social and expect a thoughtful response.”
Recent customer acquisitions include AT&T, Caterpillar, Rackspace and Starbucks, while Spredfast reports expanding relationships with AAA, T. Rowe Price, Whole Foods Market and Warner Brothers.
Following nearly a decade of naive experimentation, investors believe that social marketing is finally maturing. “Companies are no longer concerned with Likes, but rather with building real customer engagement and value across their social networks," said Adam Marcus, managing director at OpenView Venture Partners.
Existing investors, including Austin Ventures and InterWest Partners, also participated in this latest funding round.