Sprout Social raises $40.5 million to supercharge social media campaigns

Thanks to VentureBeat –

For enterprises unaccustomed to digital outreach, devising a social-centric marketing strategy can be a daunting prospect. But it’s a necessary evil: According to a recent survey conducted by analysts at PricewaterhouseCoopers, 59 percent of global consumers use social media as a source of inspiration for purchases. The challenge, of course, is learning to leverage it effectively.

That’s where Sprout Social comes in. The Chicago provider of social media marketing, analytics, and advocacy solutions today revealed that it has secured $40.5 million in Series D financing, led by the Future Fund, with significant contributions from Goldman Sachs and New Enterprise Associates. This brings the startup’s total raised to $103.5 million and comes after a $42 million Series C round led by Goldman Sachs in 2016 and an $18 million Series B round four years ago from New Enterprise Associates.

In the eight years since its founding, Sprout Social has managed to gain impressive traction in a highly competitive market. It recently passed 25,000 customers — including big brands like American Express, Pepsi, Hyatt, Steelcase, Titleist, Ticketmaster, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Subaru, and Samsung — and 500 employees (that latter number is up 100 people since December 2017). Late last year, it acquired Simply Measured, a Seattle startup that helped brands gain insight into social media campaigns.

CEO Justyn Howard said the fresh funding will be used to accelerate the company’s plans for “deepened” platform capabilities and to fuel overseas expansion.

“Social marketing and social data have become mission-critical to virtually all aspects of business. Sprout’s relentless focus on quality and customer success have made us the top customer-rated platform in every category and segment,” he said in a statement. “In many ways, social is still in its infancy, and we’re fortunate to help so many great customers navigate this evolving set of challenges.”

Sprout Social, which was founded by Justyn Howard, Aaron Rankin, Gil Lara, and Peter Soung, offers a suite of analytics tools through its Simply Measured platform. From within a unified dashboard, customers can engage and collaborate with teams to coordinate publishing efforts and track metrics like engagement, impressions, and link clicks. A streamlined workflow enables managers to permission systems and assign tasks, while robust reporting features let them package analytics and social data in a range of formats.

Sprout Social offers a reporting API that plugs into other dashboards and products, like HubSpot. And in June 2017 it launched Bot Builder, a tool geared toward helping social media, customer service, and engagement teams create Twitter and Facebook bots for conversations in Direct Messages. Bots created with the Bot Builder can be brought directly into feeds — either by invitation or an ad unit — and can sell products, share links, take actions, and carry on a conversation.

Yet another Sprout Social offering — Bambu — recruits employees to share curated content across their social networks. It’s being used by the likes of CVS Health, Zendesk, Coldwell Banker, BlueCross BlueShield, and the City of Las Vegas.

“The Sprout team has built a remarkable company, evidenced not only by their performance but their focus on culture, quality, and their customers,” Jason Kreuziger of the merchant banking division at Goldman Sachs said of today’s news. “Since our initial investment in 2016, Sprout has continually demonstrated their ability to lead and transform this category through best-in-class technology, tremendous leadership, and their customer-centered approach.”

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