Social media is only getting more mainstream, and data-driven marketing is making the difference in influencing the rise of creative, adaptable brands, says Socialbakers CEO Jan Rezab.
Last week in Prague some 1,000 digital marketing influencers from the world’s biggest brands, including half the Fortune 500 companies, gathered to figure out the future of social media.
Social media chiefs from Lego to Lamborghini and Adidas, as well as internet celebrities like Bethany Mota, the teenager who built up such a huge following on her YouTube channel that she now has her own fashion line, all agreed that embracing new platforms as they emerge is key.
Socialbakers was originally founded in Prague by Jan Rezab, Lukas Mixner, Martin Hololka and Jiri Voves as Candytech. In 2010 the company created Facebakers to help users find Facebook statistics. Within a year the company renamed itself again as Socialbakers and launched Market Insights to monitor sectors on Facebook initially.
The digital marketer’s toolkit
This has evolved to become an entire social marketing toolkit that provides deep data analysis to show brands how to better perform across Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Baidu, to name a few. Brands use the analytics to track key performance indicators and improve marketing success and efficiency.
The company has raised some US$34m in venture capital to date and counts half the Fortune 500 as clients.
Rezab, who is just 28, started his first business when he dropped out of school at the age of 14. Today he is one of the most successful tech entrepreneurs in the Czech Republic and all his globe-trotting has left him with a sort of New York accent.
Rezab says that the world has surpassed the social media curve and if anything the battlefield has moved on to a more mobile dynamic.
“I think when we look at social media, it has been through an evolution of people trying to get used to it. And now we are at a point where they know which categories of social media platforms and social video platforms that suit them, so now they are accommodated with the usage and for us it is all about the data that follows.
“It is now about the concept of data-driven marketing — both on the company side and on the user side.”
At first Socialbakers gave us amazing insights into the growth curve that social networking – specifically Facebook – was on. But now the company is all about insight and effectiveness, as proven last week by key brands like Disney, Lamborghini and Lego.
“We don’t see ourselves as an analytics company only. When we look at this data-driven model we try to provide ‘data plus’ – we provide the analytics but also a framework of how to put it into the organisation — how users should use it so there is a stream of beginning and ending. I get the analytics solution, these people get it, these are the metrics, so we provide end-to-end with huge amount of training and education; that’s why clients love using us, rather than downloading Excel spreadsheets.
The rich media future of social
One of the dominant topics at the conference was how Facebook, since introducing video-sharing a year ago, has been effectively killing YouTube, which has owned the online video space over the last decade.
In light of the rise and rise WhatsApp, Snapchat and many other mobile-oriented social networks, I ask Rezab whether he is concerned that established players will eventually go the way of MySpace and Bebo and lose out to newer and more nimbler players.
“I guess you have to look at lock-in and adoption,” he said. “First of all, it is very easy to build a social-messaging platform and then get rid of it. It’s very difficult to get rid of of a connection-based social network because you are building them up organically and it serves as a social category and it is very difficult to get rid of things that have content that you can find nowhere else. You can see one of my investments I made into a gaming social network with my wife.
“I think it is going to go into rich media like Vine and Instagram and more of that rich content. Facebook is not going to go away anytime soon nor is LinkedIn, but I can see new categories emerging, as well as a land grab of internal social networks.
“Facebook launched Facebook at Work and that makes a lot of sense. Social layers over location and everyday lives. At the end of the day social networks are not about the technology, they are a layer over people’s lives – a layer over Twitter is not Twitter, just a layer over what we say that I want to share with others. It’s an expression [of opinion] in some shape or communications one-on-one in some shape.
“The future is bright, there are going to be several multi-billion user social networks in the next few years,” he added.