Socxo, a brand advocacy platform that was founded by Sudarsan Rao 3 years ago is based out of Bangalore.
Socxo offers a ‘SaaS & Mobile’ platform for brands to drive either employee or brand advocacy programs and has taken the industry by storm by making a name for itself in a short span of 3 years.
At the helm of Socxo is Sudarsan Rao, an entrepreneur with over two decades of diversified experience in setting up and running technology businesses in Enterprise SaaS & IP led Middleware technology products.
How did Socxo start, the story behind it and the journey so far?
Email, Search and Social have been the key facets of Digital Marketing. While email and search marketing have evolved over 25 years with a plethora of automation tools, social is a relatively new phenomenon that has just evolved into a marketing medium for brands over the last 5 years. However, we noticed that brands were using Social Media as yet another advertising billboard and did not adopt the core fabric of social media – which is engagement and interaction of content between people.
Social is a very human-centric platform that thrives on connection, relationship, trust, engagement and authenticity. Ads that are pushed as sponsored or promoted posts have very minimal engagement on social media. However, content shared by people has higher organic reach, better engagements (likes/comments), more authentic interactions and qualified traffic/leads for companies. People discover information about brands, products and services on social media based on recommendations from their networks and trust their connections when it comes to buying decisions.
Hence, we wanted to leverage the above tenets and conceptualized the idea of Socxo – a platform for brand advocacy and micro-influencer marketing. Socxo is almost 3 years old and started with India as base market to validate and test the product, even though this concept was new in India. However, we have successfully promoted the concept, validated the product, acquired over 35 Indian early-adopter Brands and over 15 US/European Brands in just 2 years of launching the product.
Brand advocacy is very new in the market, how do you see the brand advocacy market in India compared to other international markets?
Brand advocacy or micro-influencer marketing is still at a nascent phase in India as compared to US, Canada or the Northern European markets, where digital marketing budgets are over 50% as compared to traditional marketing. Despite having a large base of social media and communication app users in India, brand marketers are yet to discover and harness the potential of advocacy and amplification of content through their own trusted brand advocates (employees, partners, customers and fans).
Brands in US, Canada, UK, Netherlands etc have realized the power of brand advocacy on social media and have embraced this concept across sales, marketing, communications, HR, engineering and leadership. We see an emergence of unique training and consulting partners in these markets, who train the employees and channel partners of brands on how best to leverage social media for their personal, professional and business goals.
However, we are seeing early signs of traction in India and we expect the brands to adopt this concept big time in 2020. As the cost of paid marketing increases on social media, marketers will realize the value of ‘trust & authentic’ brand marketing through advocacy and the earned media value that it drives through the power of its brand advocates.
Socxo, as a front runner and leader in the advocacy space has significantly invested in evangelizing and marketing the concept and benefits of brand advocacy.
How did you find the niche in brand advocacy and what is the niche?
Concepts like social selling, employer branding, personal branding, social PR and social hiring are the core tents of brand advocacy. We have built the platform to support a brand’s social transformation and content out-reach across functional needs across marketing, sales, HR, engineering and leadership besides extended channel partners of a brand.
Socxo’s focus has been to provide strong ROI on advocacy with key attribution metrics of content performance, gamified user activity, engagement, content discovery and moderation.
Socxo’s unique performance-driven pricing model combined with a strong user experience of its platform provides the niche to position our solution against our competitors.
How is this model working in India and are Indian brands adapting to it and at what rate?
Over the last 12 months, we have seen significant interest from both B2B and B2C brands in India. We saw early traction from IT, BFSI and Automotive in 2018 and in 2019 we have seen significant traction from Engineering, Industrials, Education, Consulting and Consumer brands as well.
While the initial adoption was to augment their existing paid marketing on social media, we are seeing interest from sales and HR to adopt it for social selling, sales enablement, employer branding, social hiring etc. We expect Indian brands to adopt advocacy more aggressively in 2020 and expect to see over 200-250 leading brands trying this concept this year.
What is Socxo’s plan for 2020?
For 2020, we plan to continue investing in India to lead the market and to expand and scale our business in US and Northern Europe through direct presence and partnerships.
We have already signed up over 5 partners in US and Europe and we expect to have over 25 partners in 6 months across India, US, Europe and SEA.
Socxo has plans to expand the scope of its platform with new adjacent applications to complement advocacy and make it a unified and comprehensive Social Marketing Platform.