Is A Second Wave Of Social CRM Consolidation Upon Us?

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SocialWaveCall 2011 and 2012 the first wave of social CRM, when companies like Salesforce.com and Oracle snapped up social media analytics and marketing companies.

Little more than one year later, all signs point toward paid media becoming a part of the enterprise social stack with more M&A and partnerships likely to come.

Although CRM, in its truest form, is defined as a trifecta of customer service, marketing and sales, early social solutions that by heritage owned one piece of that puzzle are rapidly moving toward broader life-cycle management.

Oracle Social Cloud has opened up paid media partner APIs to social ads platforms Kenshoo, SHIFT and Nanigans following its social acquisitions of Vitrue, Collective Intellect and Involver. In addition, enterprise social media-management system Sprinklr acquired social data analytics company Dachis Group in February, and will soon release a paid social media product.

Last week, Lithium Technologies acquired social influence platform Klout. Originally sold as a customer service and social communities solution, Lithium has “had to create context for the marketer to create more competitive advantage,” CEO Rob Tarkoff told AdExchanger at a news conference in San Francisco announcing the deal.

He added, “We have very broad consumer reach now and capture signals and data from one half of a billion consumers. … This brings digital relationship [management] into the CRM world.”

And this week, Mass Relevance and Spredfast merged to “serve all social marketing needs for brands, media companies and agencies.”

What’s different?

The motives for early social CRM deals centered around wrangling the social data firehose and social listening. But recent M&A and partnership activity focuses on finding actionable targets within huge pools of unstructured data. The aim is to supplement earned and owned channels through paid media amplification.

“We truly believe that if you have just an owned social media solution right now without the paid amplification, that will only be a piece of the puzzle and probably an increasingly small piece of the puzzle given the way things are happening with Facebook,” said Jim Anderson, former Vitrue COO and current CEO of Twitter and Facebook partner tech platform SocialFlow.

Not coincidentally, SocialFlow’s technology is designed to help brands and publishers monetize content through paid and sponsored amplification across Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.

Cutting Through The (Platform) Noise

The problem brands face, Anderson said, is cutting through the increased clutter on social platforms. “If you don’t pay to get your message out to your own audience, shouting louder won’t necessarily be the answer and at some point the cumulative effect of everyone trying to shout louder to get their message across really degrades the platform,” he explained.

This is why Facebook has tried to reduce social noise by reigning in organic reach. Salesforce.com Marketing Cloud CMO Mike Lazerow wrote on Re/code that “it’s all about understanding. … Facebook is in the high-quality content business. … Facebook isn’t screwing anyone. The reduction in brand-post visibility is on the same trajectory as every other digital advertising breakthrough.”

Patrick Salyer, CEO of social infrastructure company Gigya, concurred: “Facebook has a huge audience and valuable ways to reach that audience that they’re charging for now consistently.”

He added while brands are reconsidering their social marketing strategies, Facebook’s significant reach will maintain interest in paid monetization, despite reports of brand “breakups” with the platform.

“We find it’s actually helping our business quite a bit, since we allow brands to connect with those same Facebook users onsite, on their domains and get permission-based access to their information and create a Facebook-like experience they can control, manage and have a direct relationship with customers,” he said.

New Wave Of Social Marketing

A “new wave” of social marketing is coming and the bar has been set in many ways by Facebook and Twitter, said David Rodnitzky, CEO of digital marketing agency 3Q Digital.

“Facebook has done a fantastic job proving their ads platform for customer acquisition and direct response, which you’ve seen with CRM and Custom Audiences, the Facebook Exchange and offline integrations with Datalogix,” Rodnitzky said.

Mastering paid social in the future will depend on understanding what consumers are doing across multiple touch points and targeting content, said Scott Rayden, CRO of 3Q Digital.

Social media dashboard HootSuite has already been working this formula in its own marketing, said Ryan Holmes, HootSuite’s CEO, during Ad:Tech San Francisco last week. HootSuite has increased by 16% its social advertising spend since 2012 and has shifted its focus from search and banner ads to Twitter and Facebook ads.

“We can’t wait for people to come to our own properties and fill out a form anymore,” Holmes said. “As a company, we are practicing real-time marketing by creating compelling content. We then find out which content is working really well and amplify that through social advertising.”

Twitter ads, he said, are performing at one-third the cost of other channels for driving sales leads and generate more than 3,000 leads a month for HootSuite.

 

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