Today, according to SocialFlow co-founder Frank Speiser, much of social media marketing is like someone walking into a crowded room and blurting something out through a bullhorn. It’s loud, intrusive and probably not related to what everybody else is actually talking about.
That’s the situation that SocialFlow seeks to stop by putting algorithmic structure around the chaos of social media conversations. The company started out working with publications such as The Washington Post, Forbes and The Economist to help them push out their content via Facebook and Twitter at a time when readers would be most receptive. And as brands have become more reliant on social’s earned media model, they too are using SocialFlow’s Cadence, Optimized Publishing Platform to ensure they get maximum value from their social content.
And now SocialFlow is extending that model into social media ad buying. The paid media service—called Crescendo, Attention Buying Platform—allows brands to take what has been working on earned media and apply it to Facebook ads so that they reach the groups that are most open to a message. With this approach, Crescendo helps businesses and brands find the least-cluttered and most cost-effective way to reach a target audience and increase conversions.
It all comes down to timing posts and ads to when an audience is most likely to be paying attention. “Attention is the universal ad unit,” says Speiser. “If you consistently win the battle for attention, you’ve been effective.”
SocialFlow does this by using complex algorithms related to linguistic modeling to gain a richer understanding of the conversations occurring on social media. It’s most interested in what people are talking about right now, and based on the nature of those conversations, it can tell when they are most likely to engage with and share messages on a certain topic. As Speiser notes, “We’re not targeting individuals. We’re targeting conversations that people like that have.”
SocialFlow’s approach contrasts with typical social media marketing tactics. For example, many companies schedule their tweets and posts at fixed times, or they push them out manually, hoping to engage users. But, according to Speiser, that frequently leads to content that fails to attract attention because it doesn't fit with what is being discussed. “People are good at the big picture, but they’re not good at topical relevance,” he says. “That’s the realm of the machine.”
Through its access to Twitter and Facebook data streams, SocialFlow has found that language, not demographics or “influencer” status, is the best predictor of affinity and action on social networks. By studying millions of social media messages, it developed a model of how information spreads on social networks. These predictive analytics determine the value of content on the social graph in real time. Once content has been scored, SocialFlow's Cadence uses the data to determine when a specific audience is available and what topics they are most likely to engage in. It then automatically tweets it out or creates a Facebook update when the audience is going to be most receptive.
Having mastered the algorithms for social media attention, SocialFlow is bringing its learnings into the area of paid placements and ads, which Speiser sees as critical for brands that want to take greater advantage of social. “Cadence helps you say the right thing at the right time,” says Speiser. “Crescendo helps you find more audience like your audience.”
Like Cadence does in tracking earned media, Crescendo lets marketers track the impact of their paid media against specific outcomes. “With Crescendo, we can track the outcomes all the way to conversion,” Speiser notes. “You don’t have to blindly guess where your value came from.”
LIPMAN Advertising, working with one of its luxury products clients, has been testing Crescendo as a way to increase the client's social media reach. “Partnering with SocialFlow has enabled LIPMAN Advertising to significantly amplify brand messages to the right audiences, at the right time in their journey,” says Jennifer Pasiakos, VP of digital at the agency. “It is inspiring more users to join the conversation socially, share their own experiences and ultimately create more engaged, deeply loyal customers.”
It all comes down to helping marketers maximize their ROI and get more from their social media spend. “On social media, you have to go beyond impressions,” Speiser says. “This resets the marketing paradigm. A brand can subsidize with trust instead of with coupons.”