The Boom of 2012:Business of Social Apps

The past month had all eyes glued to Facebook: the billion dollar IPO , Mark Zuckerberg surprise wedlock and Nasdaq pushing the IPO to nosedive at 28% of the market valuation. Strangely some of the successful stories in social media did not appear on the radar.

Virtue– a cloud based social marketing and engagement platform was acquired by Oracle at an undisclosed amount.Analysts and experts say that it was a response to SAP acquiring Ariba – another business related to the vast world of social media. Before the news would die out , customer relationship management giant Salesforce picked up BuddyMedia  in its cart for an awesome $745 million. Virtue,Ariba and BuddyMedia are all social media marketing platforms which help brands explore the infinite opportunities on social media.

A little research brings in still more interesting stories. In 2011, Adobe picked up Efficient Frontier (used for ad buying on Facebook) for a rumored $400 million, while Salesforce added Radian6 (a listening tool for tracking mentions in social media) for $326 million.

With the big boys of software and technology services on a social media shopping spree, many more acquisitions might be in the pipeline.From the humble origin of college campus social media has made its way to the elegant board rooms . Maximum utilization of  social media seems to be the next Mission Impossible 5  for all brands- big and small.

There are many more news reports to support this fact.  79 percent of 2,100 companies surveyed by Harvard Business Review reported that they use or plan to use social media. The average social media budget at enterprise-level businesses with more than 1,000 employees is $833,000, according to an already dated 2011 report from researcher Altimeter.  5 years later , marketers anticipate spending 19.5% of their budgets on social media, nearly three times the current level. Adding to the scenario,use of internal social networks in companies is up 50 percent from 2008, according to McKinsey and Co. After a slow start, social has become a daily dose for big businesses.

Importantly, companies are using social media to do things that go way beyond just engaging customers on Facebook. Sales departments use social to nurture leads and close sales. HR posts job openings and vets applicants. Community and support squads mine networks, blogs and forums with deep listening tools. Advertising departments get the word out on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And internal networks like Yammer let managers and employees engage in Facebook-like dialogue and collaboration behind the firewall.

Social media, is the new Enterprise Information System , used company-wide. It’s used not just to engage with customers but to connect employees, coordinate suppliers and streamline nearly every aspect of contemporary enterprise, writes USA Today‘s Tim Mullaney. Not using social media in the workplace, in fact, is starting to make about as much sense as not using the phone or email.Enterprises are clamoring for one-stop, social solutions, explains Forbes‘ Melissa Parrish: omnibus tools for pushing out content across multiple networks, listening, advertising, analyzing, managing customer relations and fostering internal dialogue.

The growing role of enterprise social media, plus the growing budgets and authority of CMOs entrusted with responsibility to   harness social potential for large companies powered by new technology. While Facebook and consumer social media make the headlines, social apps for businesses have investors and some of the planet’s biggest companies quietly doubling down. The first billion-dollar acquisition may be just around the corner and  the suspense remains…..

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