The digital marketing industry is buzzing the last few days about the pending acquisition of Buddy Media by Salesforce, a leading CRM technology company. This follows last week’s news that Oracle acquired Vitrue, one of Buddy Media’s competitors.
What’s going on here? Well, first, Oracle’s purchase can be seen as an example of an enterprise technology company buying its way into the growing social media space. It’s fairly easy to see how the pieces fit together: the reporting and analytics components of Vitrue’s solution can be integrated into Oracle’s product suite and this data can be leveraged for better targeting and data mining to drive engagement and sales.
The Salesforce combination with Buddy Media looks to be an even better fit. Salesforce already has integrated Radian6, a major listening platform, into its robust CRM feature set. With Buddy Media, Salesforce will have the ability to activate and publish out to any customer or group, going beyond the data mining and listening capabilities that Salesforce/Radian has now.
What doesn’t make sense – at least from my point of view – is the eye-popping sales price of the Buddy Media purchase, reportedly at $800 Million.
Why? Well, all of these social publishing platforms still have a long way to go and some more than others. Here at Razorfish, we have pretty much worked with all of them, including Buddy Media and Vitrue. And if you talk with our social media teams across our network, they will tell you that the reality of what these solutions provide is less than what they promise.
What you need to know is that there are at least four major areas where these solutions must continue to evolve in order to meet their potential.
1. Reliability – These platforms are notoriously buggy, with code issues and server failures that affect the performance of publishing tools and applications. Some teams working on large Facebook pages find it more reliable to manually build and post, than to use a social content management system (CMS). Until these platforms can demonstrate full reliability, it’s difficult for marketers to pay attention to some of the newer and sexier bells and whistles that are being promised.
2. Customization – As social experience development continues to evolve, marketers need more robust tools that can be completely customized. The social CMS platforms either constrain the developer into standard solutions, ie Facebook applications, or require the developer to learn new code to build a completely custom experience. The platforms will continue to be pressured to provide quickly deployable, but rich social experiences.
3. Actionable targeting – Whether through organic or paid media, the opportunity to deliver customized content based on what people are liking/sharing/tweeting/pinning is yet to be fully realized. Yes, this data is being captured, but the promise of fully leveraging this data into actionable content publishing is still in its infancy.
4. End-to-end publishing – While the social CMS platforms are focused on publishing to social networks, marketers are looking to distribute and engage customers across channel, including their website, display media, search, email and mobile. Buddy Media already has an offering to start to do this with ReachBuddy, but this omni-channel capability is where these platforms really need to get to. This is one of the goals of Razorfish’s Fluent platform, which provides an infrastructure to distribute content across channels and devices.
What do you think of the Buddy Media acquisition? How do you think the social CMS platforms need to evolve? The comment section awaits.
As VP Social Media, Chris Bowler leads the Razorfish social media practice and can be found waiting at the gate for his next flight somewhere. Ping him at @chrisrbowler