Google’s purchase of Wildfire last week for a reported $250m is confirmation that social media marketing has come into its own, says Eric Edelstein of Cape Town’s evly.
“In the past few weeks we’ve seen three major deals that amount to a billion-dollar bet on the power of social marketing,” says Edelstein. “Apart from Google’s purchase of Wildfire, we’ve also seen Oracle buy Vitrue for $300m and Buddy Media sold to Salesforce for $689m.”
Edelstein believes there is still plenty of room in the market for more players. “Everyone is doing something slightly different, and evly has a unique edge because unlike most other social marketing companies we’re not just about entertainment.”
He says both Wildfire and Buddy Media have specialised in relatively shallow customer engagement through competitions, sweepstakes and other light entertainment. “The information flow is still very one-way,” he says. “The client can count clicks and shares, but richer communication doesn’t happen. We think that leaves a lot of value on the table.”
“evly enables rich, two-way communication between brands and their customers”, says Edelstein. “Customers are one of the best sources of innovation and ideas any company has. But traditionally it’s been difficult and expensive to tap into that resource with brands not truly knowing who these people are. With evly, the power of social engagement becomes easy to harvest – and that same engagement can be extended not only to fans, but also to employees.”
Edelstein says that while Facebook is the current favoured platform for customer engagement, any serious social marketing player should be able to engage with customers across multiple platforms. “Facebook has done a good job of accommodating brands and organisations, but it’s not purpose-built for them,” he says. “There are other ways and places to reach customers, and more will continue to appear. The key is to engage with people in their own preferred environments.”
“If you harness it correctly, the power of social marketing can turn marketing from a pure cost to an investment in the future sustainability of a business,” concludes Edelstein.