Ambassify Delivers Employee Advocacy and Engagement on Heroku

Within every company, there is a corps of brand ambassadors just waiting to be mobilized. Employees can be some of the most enthusiastic evangelists for their company, and their voices can amplify brand messaging exponentially across their social networks. Word of mouth marketing enhances a brand’s online presence, and an employee’s endorsement can influence friends and family to become customers. Yet often, companies don’t have the tools to effectively organize and manage employee advocacy to make the most of this valuable resource.

Ambassify is a leading social media distribution platform focused on employee advocacy programs and engagement. Companies use the white-labeled, SaaS solution to build and nurture internal communities of brand ambassadors, inspiring them to spread the word about products and services, campaigns, recruiting, and more via social posts or video. PR teams can provide sample copy through the platform, making it easy and fast for employees to share with a couple of clicks. This also ensures consistent, approved messaging for the brand, which is especially important in regulated industries. Companies can also use the platform to run polls, solicit ideas and feedback, or engage employees in company initiatives, such as social responsibility.


Getting an MVP to market quickly on Heroku

Founded in 2011, the startup began with a standard hosted solution but soon switched to Heroku’s platform as a service. Out of the three founders, only one was technical, and Heroku made it easy for him to deploy quickly and get an MVP up and running in the most efficient way possible. This allowed the small team to focus on building a great product rather than setting up and managing servers. As the company grew over the years, its developers have continued to manage deployments on Heroku without the need for a dedicated DevOps engineer, which meant one less salary and more time for the lean team to focus on building features

With Heroku, there is not much to manage. We don't have a DevOps person, and it’s all managed by our small team of developers. Wim Mostmans, Co-Founder & CTO, Ambassify

Initially, the startup was called Bubobox and focused on enabling enterprise customers to create and share testimonial videos in a browser. After five years, the business pivoted to focus on employee advocacy through social media, and the full-featured Ambassify platform was born. Heroku’s flexibility and easy deployment made it easy to accommodate the business shift from a technical perspective.

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Ambassify’s technical evolution

Along with its business shift, the startup also underwent a technical evolution. The initial Bubobox platform was a single service built in PHP and running on one Heroku Dyno. As the engineering team re-built it to reflect the new Ambassify vision, they began breaking off pieces of their monolith into microservices. This helped them scale specific parts of their infrastructure for larger customers, such as their image resizing service which required intensive compute resources.

The white label aspect of the new product would allow customers to create a branded experience for their communities. This included a custom domain name, which required a static IP address. So, the team moved specific parts of their service onto AWS, and they’ve maintained a hybrid architecture ever since, with 20% of their platform running on AWS and 80% on Heroku.

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Adding plug-and-play tools and services

Along the way, Heroku’s ecosystem provided helpful tools when needed. Heroku Add-ons like New Relic APM allowed the team to plug in fully managed third-party tools. When they needed to add specific libraries for a thumbnail creation service, the team looked to Heroku Buildpacks, most of which are contributed by the Heroku community. The FFmpeg buildpack was easy to edit and allowed them to accomplish everything they needed on Heroku without having to move the service to AWS.

One of the cool things we leveraged on Heroku were the buildpacks, which gave us the freedom of adding very specific libraries to our infrastructure. Wim Mostmans, Co-Founder & CTO, Ambassify

It was also easy for the team to use their choice of tools and services outside of the Heroku ecosystem. For example, they added Cloudflare’s CDN service in front of Heroku, and connected the Loggly monitoring service to Heroku’s central logging endpoint, a feature that was particularly helpful for their microservices environment.

What was very useful for us, in a plug-and-play kind of way, was how you can centralize logging on Heroku. It was very easy for us to set up. Wim Mostmans, Co-Founder & CTO, Ambassify

The switch to Heroku Enterprise

A few years after establishing their microservices architecture, Ambassify switched to a Heroku Enterprise plan to make it easier for the various services to communicate without having to first mitigate the European network. By moving the services into Heroku Private Spaces, the team could reduce lag and improve performance. In addition, because the bulk of Ambassify’s customers are banks and insurance companies, the enhanced privacy and security of a Private Space helps to keep data safe while moving between services.

Ready for the future

The larger the company, the greater the impact. Ambassify’s customers include some of the largest enterprise companies in Europe, each with thousands of employees, and many customers run multiple communities across the different countries in which they operate. In 2022, employees reached 70 million people through social shares via the Ambassify platform.

Ultimately, Heroku has allowed Ambassify to launch the startup, re-build its platform, and operate at enterprise scale. With Heroku’s flexibility and tools, the engineering team is set up to meet the needs of the business as it grows into the future.

With the option to combine multiple buildpacks on Heroku, it's possible to compose any flavor of server needed to run your solution. Wim Mostmans, Co-Founder & CTO, Ambassify

Inside Ambassify on Heroku

Built in Node.js, Ambassify’s microservices are running in Heroku Private Spaces. Heroku Add-ons include New Relic APM, and the team uses the FFmpeg buildpack for its thumbnail creation service. Other key buildpacks include Puppeteer for functional tests on production front-ends, and a custom version of the nginx buildpack, which acts as a proxy to serve content from different servers. Ambassify also relies on worker dynos for email, scheduled sharing, and other queues. Outside the Heroku ecosystem, Ambassify uses the Cloudflare CDN, Loggly for logging, Twilio for notifications, RedisLabs for caching, and a range of AWS services.