Large companies are making big strides in shoring up their capabilities around the social channel. A lot of the credit goes to advances in integrated social platforms. Adopting these technologies, companies are now listening, publishing, analyzing and engaging across social in a more systematic fashion. They’re creating linkages between social promotion and conversion and connecting social to their CRM and other systems to obtain a more complete view of their customer relationships.
The days when “being social” consisted of managing individual Facebook, Twitter and other accounts in a fragmented way may not be gone completely. But it’s good to see large companies taking a more centralized approach to managing their social presence across multiple social networks.
Caesars Entertainment, which owns and operates 53 casino resorts, is a good example of a company that has placed its bets (pun intended) on a unified social platform. Before deciding that centralizing might be the way to go, Caesars managed its more than 50 Facebook pages, 50 Twitter accounts and 80 apps with a hodgepodge of tools. The company settled on Oracle Social as their platform of choice, and so far it has worked out well. The marketing team is now able to manage campaigns and measure campaign-level metrics far more efficiently and effectively. For Caesar’s, the ability to quantify the value of social has been akin to winning a jackpot.
It’s no wonder that global demand for social solutions touting integration is on the rise. Of course, no single vendor offers an end-to-end marketing solution, let alone a complete social solution. That said, some of the world’s software behemoths appear to be on a mission to achieve that very goal. Oracle is one of them. Others moving quickly to consolidate their social portfolios are Adobe and Salesforce.com. These players, and a few others to a lesser degree, are now rolling out all-in-one marketing solutions with social as a main pillar. The lofty goal of enabling marketers the ability to manage and measure all of their digital interactions from a single platform may be inching closer to reality.
Meanwhile, smaller, more niche players competing in the nebulous arena that Gleanster refers to as Social Relationship Management are accelerating the pace of product innovation and scaling their offerings as quickly as possible. The number of related technology solutions continues to expand if participation in Facebook’s preferred marketing developer program is any indication. Recently revamped, the program has almost 300 marketing partners, all focused on helping consumer brands plug into Facebook’s ad platforms.
Some of these niche players are making excellent progress. Several landed large funding rounds this year to fuel their growth. The most recent examples are HootSuite and Hearsay Social. In what is reportedly the largest deal ever in Canadian venture capital history for a software company, Hootsuite last month secured a whopping $165 million for its Series B round. Hearsay Social raised $30 million in Series C funding. Both companies launched only four years old and have since enjoyed meteoric growth.
Are these solution providers and others like them destined to become merely components of larger, more comprehensive social media management platforms? Will their names live on (or not) beneath umbrella solutions containing the word “Cloud”? Are some of them already being actively pursued by the likes of Microsoft and SAP? Given the unmistakable trend toward social integration, that’s where I’d put my money, if only I were a gambling man.