How close can a marketer get to real time? Social marketing platforms aim to help brands insert themselves into social media conversations sooner and in more sophisticated ways. A spate of announcements promise to help advertisers react to trending topics or even see into the future.
On April 23 (yesterday), Salesforce.com announced Social.com, an extension of Salesforce Marketing Cloud. The announcement was followed today by Adobe's Predictive Publishing for Facebook. The announcements followed Blab, a startup that launched its service on April 9 saying it can predict where social conversations will go 24, 48 and 72 hours in advance.
Social.com lets marketers integrate CRM information from Salesforce.com with data held by social media companies. For example, a marketer buying targeted advertising on Facebook could combine the interests expressed by Facebook users with its own customer information in order to refine the audience for a campaign.
The dashboard includes a "trending" word cloud that can help marketers identify topics or hashtags to which they can quickly tie sponsored stories, posts or tweets. Speaking at a Salesforce.com customer day in San Francisco, Adam Bain, chief revenue officer for Twitter, called this "buying into the moment."
Gordon Evans, vice president of product marketing for Salesforce.com, told ClickZ, "We can connect real-time social listening with ad campaigns. If a hashtag is trending and has positive social sentiment, you can buy ads against whenever someone uses that hashtag, via Twitter keyword targeting."
At launch, Social.com integrates with Twitter and Facebook. Evans says the company will work closely with other networks; it already has strategic partnerships with LinkedIn and Google.
Social.com uses social listening tech that Salesforce.com acquired with Radian6; it will eventually incorporate real-time bidding technology from its Buddy Media acquisition. It provides a simple point-click-and-drag interface to let marketers quickly set up social media campaigns.
At the promotional event in San Francisco, Jonathan Davis, chief executive of Omnicom Digital, said his agency would use Social.com on behalf of its clients to manage their campaigns. He noted that, typically, clients reserve about half of their budgets for real-time, optimized campaigns such as those managed on Social.com.
Adobe's Predictive Publishing for Facebook is a new feature of its own Adobe Social, which is in turn an element of Adobe Marketing Cloud. The dashboard plug-in predicts how well a Facebook post can be expected to perform based on the marketer's previous Facebook campaigns that were managed through Adobe Social. It also gives suggestions for improving performance with tactics such as changing the time of day or key words. The capability will be released with the 3.0 version of Adobe Social this summer.
"This data has always been available within the reporting module. Now, we're bringing the data into the publishing tool so marketers can use it as they create the post," says Emi Hofmeister, director of product marketing for Adobe Social. "The cool element is that we're predicting that this will get this number of likes, comments and shares so you can make smarter decisions."
Blab says it can look into the future to let marketers get in on conversations early -- or to lead them. The platform applies its patented predictive and analytic technologies to data streams from social channels and the web, analyzing some 1.3 terabytes of data at any moment.
First, a marketer sets up what Blab calls a "conversation canvas" that's tailored to a specific brand interest or goal. For example, one might be set up to follow the reputation of the brand and/or its competitors. Another might follow chatter about a particular sporting event.
The conversation canvas automatically populates itself with other relevant key words and topic. Marketers can see who the top influencers are at any moment, as well as where the conversations are taking place. More important is the gaze into the future.
"We don't do projections, we do predictions based on the pattern and behavior of the actual conversation," says Tamsen Galloway, vice president of Blab. "We can see where a conversation will be in 24 hours, and how that may change between 48 and 72 hours later."
Blab is not integrated with any other marketing platforms, but it does offer an API for such integration.
Blab can't mention any customers, but Galloway suggested a hypothetical use case. "A footwear manufacturer might have a relationship with a source for a certain type of material and have concern about a legal issue that may be coming up. We can let the brand monitor the conversation, sentiment and social platforms being used to talk about your brand, competitors, etc. You are prepared with something where you are able to create an alternate conversation that you can use to steer a positive sentiment for your brand."
Galloway says Blab also can help companies connect with influencers in less heavy-handed ways. "If you want to reach out to influencers that are driving purchases, you can find out what the non-obvious conversations are within that target audience, and you can have conversation about things that are relevant to their lifestyle."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
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