Buzzeo Acquisition is Latest Move in Context Optional’s Facebook Business Expansion

Context Optional acquired unwrap inc., maker of Facebook application platform Buzzeo, today in an effort to continue the development of its Page management offerings.

The Palo Alto-based Buzzeo created a service for creating, managing and launching a variety of Facebook applications, primarily for e-commerce but also polls, product listings and others. The two companies noted in separate press releases that Buzzeo and Context Optional’s Social Marketing Suite are a “natural compliment” to each other.

Unwrap inc. cofounders Waynn Lue and Joshua Reeves will join Context Optional as leaders in product development, marketing and engineering and Reeves tells us the two have already begun several projects. Previously, Buzzeo has been used by Ben & Jerry’s and Gold’s Gym on Facebook. Apps built by the company have generated more than 41 million installations by Facebook users to date. Buzzeo’s web site noted that new “features and frameworks” are set to be introduced in the coming weeks.

Reeves says negotiations with Context Optional had been taking place since February, but finalized this deal recently after entertaining various offers. Unwrap inc.’s primary focus has providing been small businesses easy social media management capability, Reeves tells us; he and his partner felt Context Optional was the best place to apply what Buzzeo had created to serve its customers.

This acquisition is one more step on a path that Context Optional has been traveling since 2006. We also recently spoke to Context Optional chief executive Kevin Barenblat about his plans for the company — this article is the first in a series we’ll be running on Facebook Page management companies.

Context Optional was one of the first Page management companies to develop around Facebook, consequently he tells us the company has been better able to turn lessons into innovations.

“Big change was driven by the launch of Facebook’s platform,” Barenblat says. “It was a huge shift in how easy it was to share, and so compared to the work we were doing on other platforms like MySpace, Facebook was just much more compelling.”

Most recently, Facebook’s Open Graph social plugins opened up new ways for Context Optional to help brands better interact with their customers by adding social context to its web site.

“It’s no longer enough to consider messaging to ‘fans’ of a brand; you now need tools to tune your message for specific objects that are liked,” Barenblat explains.

Highlights about Context Optional:

  • Its first application for a Facebook brand Page, Open Table, launched in 2007; the company has since launched more than 50 and the unwrap inc.’s acquisition is sure to add greatly to this figure.
  • Its first Facebook game, Electronic Arts’ Smarty Pants, was released in 2007.
  • The company manages applications for tens of millions of Facebook users, 12 million alone for its Travel Channel Kidnap app, 3 million of which are monthly users.
  • Clients include numerous Fortune 500 companies, from Bank of America to Ford to McDonald’s to Microsoft and Target, across multiple platforms, not only Facebook but also on MySpace and the iPhone.
  • Chase Community Giving was another milestone, as it was one of the biggest crowd-sourced philanthropy efforts ever.
  • Context Optional launched its Social Marketing Suite in February, allowing brands to mange, build and moderate their own Pages. The suite gives brands more control to target certain geographic groups, do-it-yourself quizzes/polls/contests or tracking fan comments.
  • The addition of Buzzeo to Context Optional allows the company to continue to focus on innovating Page management and adds an element of app expertise to the mix.

Facebook’s plugins are creating more ways for marketers to reach the service’s users. Barenblat says the Like button holds the most promise because it’s set to become the most widely adopted plugin. Furthermore he tells us that the current set of three plugins are “the tip of the iceberg” as far as Facebook’s reach into the wider web and “their true potential will be revealed when developers can author customizable plugins.”

Looking to the future Barenblat tells us Context Optional has “a pretty aggressive product roadmap that will offer more and more functionality to brands who are looking to leverage Facebook for marketing and engagement.”

You can read more about Context Optional’s past marketing efforts in our Best & Worst Facebook Marketing report.

[Context Optional logo, Barenblat photo and suite images via Context Optional]