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Startup helps companies reach out to their employees’ online contacts

Adrian Dayton, founder and chief innovation officer of ClearView Social. Credit: Meredith Forrest-Kulwicki.

ClearView Social formed to serve law firms, but other businesses want to get in on it, too

By Grove Potter

Release Date: August 10, 2017

“Staying in touch with your contacts and being a thought leader raises the possibility of being the one that gets hired.”
Adrian Dayton, founder and chief innovation officer
ClearView Social

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Imagine if you could share items with all of the people on your various Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter contact lists with one click of the mouse.

Now imagine how valuable it could be to your employer if everyone in your company could do that. Employees could become the greatest marketing tool for their companies by utilizing social networks.

A new firm started by a University at Buffalo law school graduate takes direct aim at this potential bonanza by making it simple to share accomplishments, insights and even direct pitches online.

ClearView Social was launched in 2014 as a way to teach lawyers how to use social media to share information with their contacts. Today, the small company counts 25 of the nation’s top 100 law firms as clients.

“I wrote a book on social media for lawyers,” said Adrian Dayton, founder and chief innovation officer of ClearView Social. “I became the leading voice for social media in the legal profession and began consulting with large firms all over the world.”

But he noticed that a lot of the people he trained were extremely busy and they would slip back into old habits and stop using social media after the training ended.

After attending a Startup Weekend event almost five years ago, Dayton got the idea to launch a company to make online sharing as easy as possible for harried lawyers.

Now with over 100 clients, mostly law firms but also accounting firms, staffing agencies and even a publicly-traded retailer, ClearView Social is revealing a marketing gold mine to companies. Lawyers who thought they were too busy to share a national newspaper article they were quoted in, or an op-ed they had written could suddenly send those accomplishments to their contacts.

The system is designed to schedule out the social media posts when they are most likely to be read using a scheduling algorithm they developed. It will also stagger the scheduling of the posts so that contacts are not deluged.

“Think of how many lawyers, accountants and real estate agents you know,” Dayton said. “Now, which one would you hire when you need one? Staying in touch with your contacts and being a thought leader raises the possibility of being the one that gets hired.”

UB connections

Dayton’s father Merril was the chair of the Department of Surgery at UB from 2003-2014, and his mother convinced him to take a look at the UB School of Law.

“I got on campus and there was such a nice vibe there,” Dayton said.

After working briefly for a local firm just after graduation, Dayton pursued his first dream of starting a business. He started out in the Z80 Labs business incubator and was later accepted in the START-UP NY economic development program.

“Tom Murdock, manager of the incubator network at UB, has been a key advisor. He has connected us with government grants as well as funding sources like the ECIDA, where we recently borrowed $300,000 to hire more sales people. This is allowing us to hire three more sales people right now."

A three-time entrant in the Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition (Panasci TEC) at UB, Dayton said his association with the university has been helpful, including advice and introductions he has received from professors in the UB School of Management.

Law firm benefits

The service costs between $300 to $4,000 a month, depending on the complexity of the business, the number of offices and how many countries it is in. Among ClearView Social’s newest clients is Monro Muffler Brake, a public company that owns several brands and operates more than 1,100 stores in 25 states.

But what could a tire store want with a social media enabler?

“They want all their employees to share coupons, friends and family coupons,” Dayton said. “Our software will track which employee sends which coupon that got used.”

Caroline Hennessy, senior manager, digital marketing and public relations at the Chicago-based law firm Quarles & Brady, said the firm with 10 offices has benefitted from greater visibility since signing on with ClearView Social.

“We had about 150 of our more than 500 attorneys opt in, and there is a wide range of who is using it every day and who is using it less regularly,” Hennessy said. “We don’t push people. That’s not the type of firm we are. It’s one of the tools that we offer our people.”

The firm sends emails to its attorneys about events and accolades that they can forward to their contacts.

One partner who has readily adopted social media uses the ClearView Social analytics that indicate who has read your post. It can also identify at which companies the people are working.

 Benefits can flow to the individual who “gets it” as well as the firm, she said.

“If you can build your own book of business, you can do whatever you want,” she said. “You can go where ever you want.”

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