Wednesday, April 14, 2010

SAS, Unica and smartFocus Add Social Media Features

Summary: major consumer-oriented marketing automation vendors have all added some type of social media capabilities. But some focus on monitoring conversations while others help marketers send more messages. Be sure you know which you're getting.

On Monday, marketing automation vendors SAS and Unica both announced new social media capabilities. SAS provided quite a bit of detail while Unica did not, so I can’t compare the two announcements in depth. [Unica provided additional detail after this post was written.] But combined with a social network marketing announcement in February from smartFocus and Alterian's acquisition of social media monitoring system Techrigy last July, all major consumer-oriented marketing automation vendors have now added some flavor of social media marketing to their systems.

What’s really interesting is how widely those flavors vary.

- Techrigy lets marketers and service departments monitor, analyze and respond to comments in social media. See my discussion last July for details.

- SAS's new solution has analytical functions similar to Techrigy, including conversation monitoring and capture, content classification by topic and sentiment, drill-down to individual documents, influence measurement, and dashboards. But it doesn’t seem to include the case management features that a publicity or service department would use to interact with individuals.

- smartFocus aims not to monitor general social media activity but to measure the influence of individuals. Although the press release is short on details, the company told me that what it's really providing is a “share to social” option for system-generated emails. This lets smartFocus track how each recipient shares the item, identify Web visitors who clicked on the shared item, and collect the behaviors of those visitors. This data is linked back to the original recipient, so smartFocus can measure the activity each recipient has generated and profile that recipient's responders. Although the approach is far from comprehensive – it only tracks items that the smartFocus sent and the recipient shared – it does tie those activities to hard metrics such as purchases. It is quite different from calculating influence by counting followers or content reuse, which are the more conventional approaches to social media measurement.

- Unica announced several enhancements to its flagship Enterprise system, of which three had no particular social media focus: adding data capture forms to emails; adding personalization to Web sites via page tags; and a new graphical interface for its event-detection system. A fourth item, incorporating data from social media Web sites in the Web analytics solution, is useful but not ground-breaking. The only substantial new social media addition is Unica’s own “share to social” option, which the company confirms does not link shared items back to the original sharer as does smartFocus.

If there’s a lesson in all this, it’s that “social media solution” is far from a simple check box on your requirements list. Vendor solutions differ widely and will continue to vary for quite some time. SAS and Alterian chose to start with monitoring and measurement, while Unica and smartFocus jumped right into messaging. This nicely illustrates a similar split among marketers in choosing which to do first. Many recognize the need for measurement but can't resist the lure of sending messages that will generate immediate response. But even if you start with a messaging solution, be sure to add monitoring as quickly as possible. I suspect that most firms will find that the information they gather from social media is ultimately more valuable than the relatively small amount of business they gain from social media directly.

1 comment:

Akin Arikan said...

Hi David,

For more detail on Unica's social media announcement, may I point readers to the additional press release that followed yesterday, on April 19th, i.e. after your post.

See the URL below for this latest announcement:

See the Unica blog for lots of screenshots on the analytics side for Facebook and Twitter:

Thank you for reviewing.