Buffer Expands Beyond Social Management Into Customer Service With Acquisition Of Respond.ly
The two brands and dashboards will remain separate but connected, as Buffer seeks to add social responsiveness to its publishing capabilities.
Respond.ly, which is being rebranded as Respond, is a team-oriented tool designed for brands to respond at scale on Twitter, as well as to monitor tweets for brand mentions. Founded in 2014, it has only about 50 paying customers.
Buffer, started in 2010, claims 2.8 million registered users, of which 47,000 are paying. It offers social publishing, scheduling and analytics tools for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.
Buffer COO and cofounder Leo Widrich noted that brands like business collaborative tool Slack use Respond to react to @mention tweets.
“Slack went down the other day,” he told me, “and a lot of people tweeted, ‘Are you down?’”
“They needed to respond quickly to all those tweets,” he said, and did so using Respond.
Widrich pointed out that, while Buffer does offer some Twitter management capability, it’s not very useful for customer service.
Buffer is about pushing out social messaging to users, he said.
“Now we have the responding part,” he added. “That’s why it’s such a great match.”
He noted that Respond is now closed to new users until a re-launch in January, although it is granting early access to some users on an invite-only basis during the transition. Facebook will be added to Twitter as a supported network.
The two products will keep their brands, dashboards and subscriptions separate for now, Widrich said, but the dashboards will be able to communicate with each other. A user in Respond, for instance, will be able to schedule social posts in Buffer. Eventually, a packaged subscription may be offered.
In a blog post today announcing the sale, cofounder and CEO Joel Gascoigne wrote:
“A product that combines both these functionalities feels to us like one where you’d have the other side getting in the way, and the whole experience could feel overwhelming.”
Widrich described this separation as a differentiator from such competitors as Hootsuite and SproutSocial, because social marketing and social publishing are often the responsibility of different departments at a brand.
No personnel from Respond will be moving to Buffer, and Respond’s San Francisco office will close. Although Widrich is located in New York City, Buffer operates entirely virtually.
Deal terms were not public.