How Agorapulse uses Ask for competitive intelligence

AI + documentation gives the team at Agorapulse the edge they need to keep up with the fast pace of social media management

We may be at peak social media. Brand social accounts are run by teams of experts who take a human-first approach to directly connect with audiences at scale. And these teams run their accounts using top-notch social media management tools.

Agorapulse is one such tool.

Started in 2011, Agorapulse has been there since the early days of social media management. Now at 160 employees, the company is positioned to be there for the present and future of social networking.

How does a mid-size European startup stay competitive in the cutthroat world of social media management? We caught up with Sébastien Gendreau, Head of Product at Agorapulse, to learn about how their team stays organized and ahead of the curve using Slite.

Parisian beginnings

Agorapulse was started in Paris in 2011 by a founding team of 6 led by Emeric Ernoult (now CEO) and Benoit Hédiard (CTO), who initially found success creating contest apps on Facebook. Companies would use their products to host giveaways and other short-term campaigns. The problem was, these customers would come and go, as the need for contests did.

Contests weren't necessarily the sticky product they were looking for, but they recognized that social media was a great place to do business. So they decided to pivot to social media management. Agorapulse was the end result: a one-stop shop for brands to manage their social accounts, track interactions, and measure engagement with audiences across platforms.

Sébastien joined around the time of the pivot, working with the founders in Paris on the early versions of the product.

Pivot to hybrid work

Agorapulse faced fierce competitors from the start. Founders in other parts of the world had started working on social media tools as well. The French team knew they would face challenges if they didn't move fast.

While the company stayed headquartered in Paris (as it does today), they expanded to the U.S. in 2013. It was a strategic move.  "We quickly decided to go to this market and not just [stay in] France, which was a big differentiator with our French competitor," Sébastien explained. From that point on, they were a hybrid organization.

Sébastien himself moved out of Paris in 2015. "I had a good life in Paris, but then I wanted a house, I wanted children, I wanted a life, basically." He moved to the countryside south of the capital, and has been there ever since.

"We have a headquarters in Paris where you will mostly find the product, engineering team, some marketing peeps — mostly French — some support teams, and some CS teams. You'll find a big portion of our exec team as well in France. And then, I think, we have people in 12 or 13 different countries."

For simplicity's sake, and because it's the language of the app's UI, the company works in English. "We do everything in English. Even the product documentation and everything we do, we do it in English."

From Tettra and Google Docs to Slite

When Sébastien was introduced to Slite, his team had already been documenting their workflow and processes in Tettra and loose Google Docs.

But these were the solutions for a much smaller team, and Agorapulse was growing. Not only did they need to sort their documents into channels and collections, but they also needed the flexibility of an editor that enabled real-time collaboration as well as asynchronous decision-making.

They considered Notion, but decided it was too complex for their needs at the time.

"What made me happy with Slite was that it was a very simple tool. It does documentation. That's it. That's what we need. We need documentation, we need to work asynchronously and synchronously, and that's it. The UI and UX were good. The price was good for us as well. We didn't need the whole machine like Notion was providing at the time. Once you have Notion you need an ops person who is just managing Notion. That's my understanding of how it works," Sébastien said.

Thanks to the right combination of functionality and simplicity, they decided to migrate all their documentation to Slite.

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What Agorapulse's documentation system looks like

At Agorapulse, the entire company uses Slite, which makes it the one source of truth when it comes to written knowledge.

Sébastien explains:

"In our documentation, we have several types of documents. First, we have one folder per team. All the processes we have, they're on Slite. All the product documentation we have about new features we'll be working on, which we call 'feature narratives' — they are in Slite. All our discovery insights, our roadmap, communication documents are on Slite. Everything we do is on Slite. We have some teams that are still using spreadsheets and Google Docs for specific work. But then we move things [to] Slite. Slite is really the big repository of all our documentation."

How Agorapulse uses Ask

Ask, Slite's AI assistant, has been useful to the Agorapulse team for two main functions, Sébastien told us.

1) Find documentation

"The first one is our ability to better and [more easily] find content. Like, 'Hey, what's the last time we released a new version of this feature?' You ask the question, then it goes and browses the documentation, and brings you the answer."

Ask in Action:

2) Access competitive intelligence

The second use case is more complex, but the stakes are higher.

During the Sales process, prospective customers naturally want to know why Agorapulse is the right choice to buy. And Agorapulse works hard to give them the most detailed, accurate, and even personalized, answer to that question. This is where Slite and Ask come in.

"We are building our whole competitive intelligence knowledge on Slite. Basically, we're writing down all our knowledge about our competitors on Slite, and we want to use Ask as a way for our Sales team, or our CS team, to go on Slite and Ask, 'Hey, why do we win versus Hootsuite? Or why do we win versus Buffer?' They click, they enter, and then they get the most important answer to that question."

It's an exciting prospect: Ask will act as a live assistant on calls with prospects and customers.

Sébastien's advice for making Slite + Ask work for you

At Agorapulse, documentation is already baked into the culture, and Sébastien says that their system runs pretty smoothly overall. But he does offer some advice for teams just getting started with Slite for documentation, and Ask in particular.

  • Define a clear owner for documents. "Every time a new person is creating a document, they have the ownership. So they need make sure that it's still alive, updated, and that we can refer to it if needed.
  • Clean your documentation regularly. "We clean documentation. When we feel that pages are too old, [or] they're not visited, we just remove them."
  • Make the goal of each document clear. "That's the reason why we have documentation: getting answers."
  • When using Ask, keep your questions precise. Some examples he cites:
  1. When do we plan to release feature A?
  2. Where are we on Topic #11?
  3. What is the sales process today?
  4. What is an MQL?
  • Avoid broad or overly complex questions. For instance: "How do we do marketing in our company as a whole?"

Preparing for the future of social media

Social media management has always been a competitive field, and the fact that social platforms are constantly changing adds to Agorapulse's daily workflow. Ask helps them create and access competitive analysis quickly, in the moment, preparing them for any challenges they may face in the future.

Sébastien sees the constant changes as opportunities. "When you wake up in the morning, it's never like, 'Oh, it'll be an easy day, a quiet day.' You always have a new challenge coming to you. So let's work and make it a great day. I think that's the most interesting part. It's not a boring job for sure."

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