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As social networks continue to blur the boundary between content and advertising, social media management and publishing tools like Shoutlet have to keep pace. The promoted posts formats offered by Facebook and Twitter are formatted like user status updates, but with payment from the advertiser boosting placement in user news feeds. This form of advertising is becoming more important partly because it flows into mobile user interfaces where there's little room for sidebar or banner ads.
The Shoutlet 6.0 edition of the social media management platform specifically allows social publishers to tag posts as promoted posts through the Facebook APIs. In addition, Shoutlet has established a partnership with Kenshoo Social to allow its customers to place other types of social media ads and get integrated reporting on the results they deliver.
Shoutlet 6.0 also adds social media listening functionality, which previously was not part of the platform; integrates its built-in social analytics with Web analytics tools like Google Analytics, IBM Digital Analytics, Adobe Omniture and Webtrends for better conversion tracking; and enhances the editor for publishing contest apps on social media.
[ Learn more about social media advertising. See LinkedIn Launches Ads API. ]
"We continue to build a tool that pulls a lot of functionality together in one place," said Aaron Everson, president and COO at Shoutlet. Although the partnership with Kenshoo Social is initially "at the level of referring customers back and forth" and some integrated reporting, deeper integration is in the works, he said. "Right now, it's about tracking conversion metrics for our mutual customers."
Although Shoutlet started with tools for publishing marketing content and analyzing its viral spread across social media, the trend toward the use of promoted posts "is something that kind of blurs the line between a social media manager's job and a media buyer's job," Everson said. However, deciding which posts to pay to promote generally seems to be falling in the social media manager's court, he said.
Shoutlet 6.0 adds social media listening, the ability to capture mentions of a brand, product or company name on social sites and analyze the sentiment of those posts. Other social media management services such as Radian6 (now part of the Salesforce.com Marketing Cloud) started with listening and added features for publishing and engagement later, but the trend is for all of these platforms to converge on a common array of features and services.
Although many Shoutlet customers use other products for social listening, they are "very intrigued by the option of having it all in one place," Everson said. He cited Direct General Insurance as an example of a Radian6 customer now converting to using Shoutlet for social listening as well as social publishing.
Social media make the customer more powerful than ever. Here's how to listen and react. Also in the new, all-digital The Customer Really Comes First issue of The BrainYard: The right tools can help smooth over the rough edges in your social business architecture. (Free registration required.)