Hearsay Social Launches Tool for Selling Through Facebook

Hearsay Social Inc., the marketing company co-founded by Starbucks Corp. board member Clara Shih, is introducing a tool that lets banks and insurers make sales through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Hearsay Social intends the service, starting today, to be a bridge between the social networks and companies’ internal sales-tracking systems that complies with internal and government regulations, so employees can be comfortable closing a sale through the sites.

“Social media only matters if it can drive sales,” said Shih, who joined the Starbucks board at the suggestion of Facebook Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. “While companies are trying to figure out how to drive more ‘Likes,’ we’re trying to drive more sales.”

Hearsay is building on top of the social networking sites that consumers use, rather than those built for companies, like Microsoft Corp.’s Yammer or International Business Machines Corp.’s Connections.

The San Francisco startup is betting that networks of followers on Facebook and Twitter, built out by a brand’s marketers and advertisers, will help drive direct sales, said Steve Garrity, chief technology officer and co-founder with Shih.

“Once you have an engaged fan base and salespeople positioned as reputable commentators, you’re ready to start closing business, and this is what that does,” Garrity said.

The company has 55,000 customers, including banks and insurers such as Allstate Corp. and MetLife Inc., Shih said. The company has raised $21 million in venture capital.

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