It's the kind of story met with, "No, way!" or "That's crazy," but it's still true. Founder Patrick De Pauw was invited to a lunch at Google headquarters. Some of the other guests? Then-President Barack Obama and Richard Branson to name a few. At the time, Patrick had spent nearly 30 years in the travel marketing industry forming relationships and connections--one of whom invited him to this select roundtable.
On the flight home, Patrick reflected on the power of connections. In travel, he had seen that other people's opinion was more influential than most marketing tools. As ads got more expensive and algorithms more unpredictable, Patrick decided to focus on the one thing that consistently worked: word-of-mouth.
Once he returned, Patrick promptly developed a concept around connections; social media being the obvious starting point. In reviewing online posts, likes, and discussions, he noticed people happily act as de facto ambassadors for things they like whether a destination, brand, cause, or organization. They do it without money and often without even realizing it.
After mapping out specific ways to capture the untapped ambassador goodwill, Patrick joined forces with friends, Jo Caudron and Dado Van Peteghem, who were working on a compatible idea which became Social Seeder.
Founder & CEO Company
The first iteration of the platform had basic social media sharing features. The emphasis was on using ambassadors as a means for social selling and extending the marketing reach. Analytics were added to give performance measures. By 2016, Social Seeder had 150+ customers from all over Europe and a full-time team of six.
Throwback: the homepage of first website in 2013.
In 2018, an evolution towards employer branding emerged. As people started to post about their workplace–whether to recruit new co-workers or highlight various events within their company–Social Seeder resonated with a growing number of HR teams. Ambassadors had higher rates of engagement and shared (at a ratio of 100%) positive conversations about their company.
As the digital era progressed, a social media presence was unavoidable and organizations wanted to be easily distinguished from their competitors. Authentic conversations became essential. Social Seeder allows employees to speak online the way they would talk in a coffee shop or over a meal with friends—with a natural enthusiasm. It was good timing. Paid advertising reach dropped drastically over the years. Plus, audiences were becoming selective and tended to avoid ads and branded messaging.
By 2019, most HR teams started to see that the strategic insight and methodology Social Seeder offered was not just a budget "nice to have" but a must. To meet the increasing need, Social Seeder expanded to 16 full-time employees by early 2020, with partners in three new countries, and 250+ customers all across the globe.
To this day, Patrick never says no to a lunch opportunity because you never know who will be there at the table—or what idea it might inspire later.
A longtime strategic communications professional, Justine has a a history of management consulting. As an award-winning academic researcher, she knows how to integrate the social sciences with brands and performance. You'll frequently find her on the train or in a museum.