Happy Graduation, B2B Social Media!
It’s graduation time! While a slew of early 20-somethings enter the woeful workforce, the B2B world has something else to celebrate: its “graduation” into the social media big leagues. Yesterday’s post highlighted that half of B2B marketers are ignoring social media, but recent industry moves paint an interesting picture: One that indicates a positive progression for B2B social media.
More than four years ago I started writing about B2B and marketing automation. We focused on how companies were implementing a marketing automation process (MAP) and tying it to their demand generation efforts. The cool kids in school were taking it a step further with lead scoring and nurturing initiatives.
The very first article I ever wrote covering the retail space was about how retailers were tapping Facebook and MySpace to connect with their customers. The conversation in Retail TouchPoints centered on getting as many followers as possible. The “strategy” was merely an equation:
Lots of names + an interest in our brand = success.
The B2C conversation evolved from populating social networks to creating a more cohesive, cross channel engagement strategy that connected the dots between e-commerce and brick and mortar. While social commerce rapidly emerged as a result, we couldn’t figure out how to spin the story for DemandGen Report. How do you encourage B2B marketers to engage with their prospective buyers and customers on….Facebook? It didn’t add up.
But now it does.
The recent acquisitions of social media solution providers aren’t just an indicator of the market’s growth— they validate the natural progression we’ve seen in the B2B space. That calls for a graduation celebration, because dare I say it — I believe social media for B2B is finally happening on a grand scale.
To mark the special occasion, here’s a timeline of a few marquee social events covered in DemandGen Report:
- We start to see socially-focused product features in marketing automation solutions, such as Silverpop, and Salesforce.com’s acquisition of Radian6 ensues massive buzz.
Q3/late summer 2011:
- HubSpot acquires social media firm Oneforty and merges its directory of social media applications with the HubSpot App Marketplace.
- Silverpop partners with Janrain to offer social sign-in capability
- “The Social Enterprise” takes center stage at Dreamforce 2011, where Salesforce chairman and CEO Marc Benioff introduced a new framework of apps and innovations that leverage social, mobile and open cloud technologies.
- Vendors take the opportunity to launch social suites at Dreamforce, including Eloqua’s Social Suite
Q3/late fall 2011:
- Marketing automation vendors across the board, including Pardot, eTrigue and Treehouse Interactive, rolled out a number of socially-focused features and functionality to help marketers integrate social media into their demand creation campaigns.
Q2 2012/late spring 2012:
- Silverpop launches free Facebook app to help marketers convert “Likes” into revenue.
- Marketo acquires Crowdfactory and launches social marketing suite
- Oracle acquires Vitrue, a platform that gives marketers a single set of tools to manage their presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and other social media platforms.
- Salesforce acquires Buddy Media to combine the platform with Radian6, its social media listening platform, to enable users to listen, engage, gain insight, publish, advertise and measure social marketing programs.
- HubSpot partnered with HootSuite to help marketers connect social media to generating, managing and nurturing leads — to help marketers “close the loop” on social media marketing.
Social Articles Of Interest in DemandGen Report:
Salesforce Ties The Knot With Buddy Media. What Now?
It’s official: Salesforce has agreed to acquire Buddy Media in a deal worth about $689 million, including $467 million in cash. Buddy Media is an A-list player in the social marketing space, with clients such as Ford, HP, L’Oreal and Mattel, and the company also boasts an especially close relationship with Facebook.
The announcement isn’t a surprise, but now we can move on to the really interesting question: What Salesforce will do with its latest social-marketing acquisition.
Yes, the purchase comes just after Oracle’s $300 million purchase of Virtue – probably Buddy Media’s biggest competitor in the social media marketing space. But Salesforce has been on a social trajectory for quite some time now; its other key offerings here include Chatter, a real-time collaboration tool, and the Radian6 social listening platform purchased last year.
The general idea, as Buddy Media founder Michael Lazerow put it in a blog post announcing the deal, is to roll up all of these pieces into a “comprehensive Marketing Cloud that will allow customers to listen, engage, gain insight, publish, advertise and measure social marketing programs.”
(Marketo might have a thing or two to say about using the term “marketing cloud,” but that’s neither here nor there.)
It makes sense to me, and it’s clear that Salesforce needed to move quickly given the consolidation taking place in the social-marketing space. If Salesforce really wants to build a platform that gives CMOs one-stop shopping for their technology needs – and that sure looks like the plan – then social marketing is a huge part of making that happen.
Yet there’s a challenge here, too: Salesforce has to pull off this transition without sacrificing its core business competencies. Not everyone is convinced Salesforce can pull this off.
On the other hand, I don’t think Salesforce could afford to sit still in spite of the risks. When you look at big CRM vendors like Oracle or marketing automation companies like Eloqua and Marketo, it’s clear that they’re moving into this turf as fast as they can – and Oracle in particular would love to marginalize Salesforce.