How To Exploit The Power Of Crowds - InformationWeek
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How To Exploit The Power Of Crowds

Crowd Factory CEO Sanjay Dholakia explains how to apply and measure social interactions across all marketing channels.

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Crowd Factory already has marquee customers like HBO, Microsoft, and Sony Music to point to in support of its social marketing platform. Now all CEO Sanjay Dholakia has to do is figure out how to explain how his company is different from every other vendor promising to unlock social media riches.

Previously the Chief Marketing Officer at Lithium Technologies, with a history as a consultant at Accenture and McKinsey & Co., Dholakia joined Crowd Factory a little more than a year ago, attracted by the potential of its technology to help marketers promote their companies more easily and track the results of promotions in social media.

Dholakia spoke about that potential following an event last month where Crowd Factory was featured as one of the first participants in the Jive Apps Market, Jive's attempt to position its enterprise social software as a launching pad for other applications. Jive customers can now sign up for and sign into the Crowd Factory Social Offer app without the need for a separate password. Social Offer is a tool for creating and tracking special deals for consumers related to social sharing, such as discounts that are unlocked for driving a minimum number of friends to a website. Crowd Factory also offers a Social Campaigns product, and a related analytics dashboard.

Some of Crowd Factory's apps for driving social behavior might be compared to North Social's Facebook apps or Wildfire's tools for creating promotions such as contests. However, what distinguishes Crowd Factory's approach is really its emphasis on analytics. "The apps in some sense are just Trojan horses for the analytics on the back end," he said.

Potential customers are often confused about the categories, Dholakia said, and he pointed me to a video blog he prepared explaining the different types of social media marketing companies. He came up with seven categories, which tend to be lumped in together even though they do pretty different things.

-- The public social networks themselves, Facebook and its competitors.

-- Listening tools, "putting the rabbit ears up" to hear what people are saying about your brand.

-- Social media management, including publishing tools like HootSuite.

-- Facebook applications that specifically exploit Facebook's development platform.

-- Social sign-on, making your identity portable across websites.

-- Community-building tools, offered by companies like Lithium (and the public-facing side of Jive).

-- Social campaign automation.

The way this list is structured, you can probably tell that "social campaign management" or "social campaign optimization," which Dholakia sees as a new category Crowd Factory is trying to create, is the one he thinks is ultimately most significant. Crowd Factory creates apps for social engagement, but inside the Trojan horse is a plan to create "an Omniture for social" that measures the response those apps attract with the goal of continuous improvement.

"You wouldn't think today of having a website with no Web analytics underneath it," he said. "We're not very far away now from where people would not conceive of doing social without having the direct causal analysis to go with it."

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