Facebook platform industry news: Nimble and Crowdbabble

NimbleNimble

Social CRM company Nimble this today released a new version of its platform with more features for managing business contacts. A new “Today Screen” is an improved dashboard with a to-do list, milestones and key events among a user’s network. The “Signals Screen” gives users notifications from across their social networks, such as invitations, likes, shares and mentions. Nimble also made updates to its search feature and created a way for users to easily retrieve their last contacted connection. Nimble now connects with more than 100 other platforms so users can bring in all their contacts and audiences.

nimble signals screen showing filters

logo_purple_betaCrowdbabble

Toronto-based start-up Crowdbabble today announced its Real-Time Facebook Monitor, a tool for Facebook page admins to monitor their pages and keep track of competitors. Users can get real-time analytics or generate historical reports. It aims to help page owners understand when they should post and how often, along with how well their posts are performing and how they compare to others in the business.

crowdbabble-real-time-facebook-analytics

Hearsay Social puts focus on ‘social selling’ with new software for sales reps

Hearsay-Social-LogoHearsay Social, maker of social media management software, is announcing a new Social Sales Solution to give individual salespeople better tools for monitoring their social networks and publishing relevant content.

The platform will identify top stories from a user’s network across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and send alerts about key people to reach out to in order to build and maintain relationships with prospects and customers.

Hearsay Social co-founder and CTO Steve Garrity says many salespeople, such as real estate agents, insurance brokers and consultants, use their personal social media profiles for business, building networks of friends and professional contacts. Through machine learning and natural language processing, Hearsay Social can pick out important posts and updates from those networks, such as someone getting married, moving or starting a new job. The salesperson could then comment on the item or send the person a direct message, though Garrity says many salespeople use these alerts as a prompt to pick up the phone and call the customer or lead directly.

Hearsay-Social-Activity-Feed

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Facebook ‘Lookalike Audiences’ help advertisers reach users similar to current customers, others in their database

friends 2Facebook is testing a new feature called “Lookalike Audiences” that helps advertisers target users similar to those in their Custom Audience databases, a spokesperson from the company tells us. Advertisers in the beta have seen lower costs per action than with traditional targeting options.

Lookalike Audiences can be created after an advertiser has uploaded a list of first-party data, such as customer email addresses, phone numbers or user IDs to make a Custom Audience. Facebook’s algorithms analyze the Custom Audience and produce another audience segment that is likely to have a similar customer profile. The advertiser can then create any Facebook ad type and target it to the Lookalike Audience. No personally identifiable information is shared back with advertisers and Lookalike Audiences can only be used within Facebook, not exported for email marketing or other ad targeting.

The feature is in limited beta from the Power Editor tool in the U.S. Lookalike Audiences cannot yet be created through the main self-serve ad dashboard or the Ads API. Advertisers can optimize for reach, which will return Lookalike Audiences that are larger but a bit less precise, or optimize for similarity, which will return audiences that are smaller but more similar to the advertiser’s existing Custom Audience. Lookalike Audiences can be combined with other interest or demographic targeting options, so an advertiser could limit its ads to a similar audience that lives in Ohio, or a similar audience who is not already a fan of the advertiser’s page, for example.
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Facebook hires and departures: longtime designer leaves; company fills other roles

Facebook’s first designer, Aaron Sittig, has left the company, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sittig worked at Facebook from 2005 to 2010, and then again since January 2011. According to his Facebook profile, he ended his work at Facebook in December 2012. He has not publicly shared his upcoming plans.

As for new hires, Facebook removed 24 job listings from its careers page this week, likely after filling roles in the areas of engineering, recruiting, marketing, sales and data analysis.

Notably, Facebook seems to have hired a Front End Software Engineer, Sales Tools job that has been open since March 2012. The job description said Facebook was looking for someone to “develop a suite of applications for large advertisers, media agencies, and Facebook’s global Sales force” and help invent “the future of Social CRM.”

Prior listings removed from Facebook’s careers page:

  • Front End Software Engineer, Sales Tools (Menlo Park)
  • Executive Assistant (11 month contract) – London (London)
  • Executive Protection Specialist (Menlo Park)
  • Localization Director (Menlo Park)
  • HR Specialist (Menlo Park)
  • Business Recruiter (Menlo Park)
  • Technical Sourcer (Menlo Park)
  • Technical Program Manager (Menlo Park)
  • Global Marketing Solutions Events Operations Associate – Contract (Menlo Park)
  • Internet Marketing Analyst, SMS (Menlo Park)
  • Business Content Marketing Manager (London)
  • Marketing Communications Manager (São Paulo)
  • Account Manager, Australia (Sydney)
  • Associate, Media Solutions (Hyderabad)
  • Media Solutions (Direct Response), Sydney (Australia) (Sydney)
  • Media Solutions, Sydney (Australia) (Sydney)
  • Regional Manager, SMB Latin America (São Paulo)
  • Analyst, Operational & Customer Insights, SMB Team (Austin)
  • Small & Medium Business (SMB) Account Manager Japan (Tokyo) (Tokyo)
  • Client Partner, Commercial Development (Sydney) (Sydney)
  • Global Accounts Team Lead, APAC (Singapore) (Singapore)
  • Manager, Global Sales Outsourcing (Singapore) (Singapore)
  • Manager, Account Management (London)
  • Pricing and Yield Analyst, Singapore (Singapore)

Who else is hiring? The Inside Network Job Board presents a survey of current openings at leading companies in the industry.

Facebook roundup: cybersecurity, Android development, Instagram, FBX and more

Facebook works with FBI to take down cyber-criminals – Facebook helped the Federal Bureau of Investigation bring down a cyber-criminal ring responsible for infecting more than 11 million computers with “Yahos” malware and causing more than $850 million in losses. The social network helped identify the criminals and affected accounts, leading the FBI and international law enforcement agencies to arrest 10 people involved with the crimes between 2010 and 2012.

Android SDK out of beta – Facebook this week brought the Facebook SDK 3.0 for Android out of beta. The SDK helps developers build social Android apps by providing native UI controls, simplifying session management and improving API support. Facebook says the beta SDK was downloaded more than 80,000 times in six weeks.

Nimble launches CRM app for HootSuite

Nimble this week announced a strategic partnership with HootSuite to help users manage their business network and track social conversations. Nimble combines users’ business contacts, emails, social communications and calendar activities into a single social contact manager. The Nimble app for HootSuite allows users to view their Nimble contacts in HootSuite, add new contacts and more. They can view contact information and a complete conversation history, along with follow-up tasks and other notes.

Instagram to take steps against spam – Instagram let users know late last week that the company is working to reduce spam on the service. “There’s no quick fix, but we have a team of engineers working every day to tackle the issue and we hope you’ll notice their improvements,” the company wrote in a post on Instagram. The company also encouraged users to continue to report the spam they see in comments on photos.

RTB companies await FBX certification – Real-time bidding providers [x+1], Optimal and Kenshoo are still waiting for official approval to be considered partners in the Facebook Exchange, AdExchanger reports. The companies have been providing FBX services either through an integration with AppNexus or another company, or have been allowed early access as they await evaluation from Facebook. After final approval, they’ll be added to the new PMD Center, which includes a section for FBX partners.

Social CRM platform Nimble opens API

Social CRM company Nimble this week released an App Marketplace and API for third-party products to integrate with the company’s social contact platform.

Nimble helps marketers and salespeople manage their contacts from email and social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Foursquare. Nimble’s new Contact API allows complementary business applications to customize and expand on Nimble functionality.

MailChimp, HubSpot, Wufoo and Rapportive are companies with apps in the marketplace already, and HootSuite, Freshdesk and others are on the way. Nimble’s vision is to have a range of business applications on the platform, including social monitoring, marketing, customer service, accounting, sales and collaboration tools.

The Contact API is the first application programming interface released by Nimble, but the company says more will be available over time to provide additional access to data about contacts and recommended actions. Developers that use these APIs can get their apps featured in Nimble’s marketplace after a short vetting process.

“A traditional CRM doesn’t empower engagement,” Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara told us last month during a demo of the platform. He says CRM has traditionally been about tracking leads and providing reporting for upper management, not actually managing relationships for engagement. “Social business is different. The customer has evolved.”

Ferrara says the difference with Nimble is that the tool provides “context for contacts” and connects with all the right communication tools to both listen and take action.

Nimble offers users a single inbox where they can see messages along with social context like public data from Facebook, recent tweets and past conversations between them. The unified social stream helps users see what are the best channels to communicate with a customer or lead. And one click brings new leads or customers into the Nimble database.

At $15 per user per month, Nimble is not only a solution for a range of businesses, but also an option for professionals looking to build their personal brand and maintain relationships in their industry.

Travel company sees $25 in bookings for every $1 spent using Facebook Custom Audience targeting

Facebook ad optimization company AdParlor says the new “Custom Audience” feature for targeting users by email address has delivered 25x return on investment for one client.

AdParlor says it enabled a “large forward-thinking travel company” to run ads directed at Facebook users who had previously stayed at one of its hotels. The Custom Audience feature allows advertisers to upload CSV or TXT files — in this case, a segment of the travel company’s existing database of guests. Facebook then hashes the data so users’ identities and information are protected. Facebook runs this list against its own hashed database of users to find matches. The matches are then eligible to see relevant ads.

For this campaign, the travel company wanted to drive qualified users to a reservation page with a special promotion from the hotel. AdParlor says the ads resulted in $25 in room booking revenue for every $1 spent on Facebook advertising. The company did not share how many users it targeted or other details about the campaign, but AdParlor CEO Hussein Fazal says, “We have run over 100 million impressions for this advertiser with a majority leveraging custom audiences.”

It’s worth noting that the ads in this campaign were marketplace ads in the right rail of Facebook. These were not Sponsored Stories or Page Post Ads in the feed, which are known to be among the more engaging options on the social network. However, with a highly relevant promotion, the travel company was able to catch users’ attention and drive conversions.

As companies have been discovering by testing the Facebook Exchange, which allows remarking through cookie-targeting, Facebook’s small ads on the side of the page are not as ineffective as some advertisers have suggested in the past. Now that advertisers can bring their own data to the table — whether from a CRM database or through real-time bidding — these placements are more powerful than ever.

TechCrunch recently shared some promising early results from other Facebook ads companies testing Custom Audiences. Nanigans helped a gaming company achieve more than 5x return on ad spend with Custom Audiences compared to ads that target users by interest.

SocialCode says one of its Custom Audience campaigns delivered new Likes at 15 percent lower cost per fan. The conversion rate of impressions to Likes was 87 percent higher than with other targeting efforts.  Users who Liked the page after being targeted with Custom Audiences were also more engaged with the page — sharing, commenting and taking other actions on posts — than fans who were targeted by other means. As we’ve previously written about, Custom Audiences makes it much easier for companies to find the consumers who are most likely to support them.

And as AdParlor found for its travel client, Custom Audiences also work well for direct response campaigns. Facebook shared results from OpenSky, an e-commerce site looking to get members who hadn’t bought anything recently to make a purchase. It used Custom Audiences combined with interest targeting to deliver ads about top products in different categories to users who would be most interested in them. Facebook says OpenSky saw a 30 percent better conversion rate by using Custom Audiences.

Facebook exploring opportunities to sell premium services for businesses

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told CNBC today that the company is looking at opportunities to sell premium services for businesses.

“As we increase our investment in monetization, we’re thinking about premium services for business,” Sandberg said. “We’ve heard from businesses all over the world that they want more from us. There are things they’d pay for they really want us to provide. So it’s an area that we’re currently starting to explore.”

Sandberg didn’t offer any specific examples, though CNBC suggested “analytics or customer service” in its reports. Based on job listings posted to Facebook’s careers site over the past few months, we’ve suspected that the company could be making a play into providing CRM or data management solutions.

For example, in August, we saw Facebook put out a call for Product Marketing Manager, Monetization: “an expert in data management platforms” who will ”develop our plans and vision for how we can enable businesses to better reach their customers and prospects on Facebook.”

Data management platforms help advertisers organize their first party data (web analytics, CRM), second party data (from strategic partners that can match CRM records or cookies) and third party data (such as from Acxiom or Datalogix) to improve their advertising efforts. Facebook is uniquely positioned to enter this space considering the wealth of data it has in each of these areas. It has already gotten into the ad exchange market with FBX and has started matching CRM data with Custom Audiences. The company has also begun working with Datalogix to understand how Facebook ads impact offline sales.

Facebook might also be interested in offering its own CRM system. In March Facebook added a listing for a Software Engineer, Sales/Marketing Tools with the job description:

“The Sales/Marketing Tools team is inventing the future of Social CRM (Customer Relationship Management). We work closely with Product, Engineering, Sales, and Marketing teams to design and develop a suite of applications for large advertisers, media agencies, and Facebook’s global sales force.”

Another listing for a Front End Software Engineer, Sales Tools, added at the same time, includes a similar description and the question, “Are you intrigued with applying the concepts of newsfeed, social, and leader boards to business applications?” The listing also mentions “building enterprise applications using social and gamification techniques.”

Since July, Facebook has been looking for an Executive Briefing Center Manager to develop strategy and lead execution for the company’s new program to build relationships and win over new partners and advertisers. Executive briefing centers are areas for large companies to show off their technology and understand the business needs of potential customers or partners.

Sandberg wasn’t specific about the size of the opportunity for the premium services it is considering, but she said the company believes its potential in any area is “really big because of our sheer size and scale.”

‘Custom Audience’ targeting now available to all Power Editor users, API partners

All Power Editor users and Ads API partners are now eligible to use Facebook’s “Custom Audience” feature to retarget consumers by email address, phone number or user IDs.

The option was previously only available to advertisers with managed accounts through a Facebook representative. Now we’ve seen it live in our own Power Editor account and heard from Facebook partners that it is available for them to implement. TechCrunch confirmed with Facebook that AdParlor, Alchemy Social, GraphEffect, Kenshoo, Nanigans, Social Moov and Optimal already offer custom audience targeting. This is in addition to Salesforce Buddy Media, which announced the capability at its Dreamforce conference on Thursday.

There is no minimum spend required to use custom audiences, but advertisers must have access to Power Editor or work with a third-party vendor. The option is not available from the main self-serve ad tool.

When we first discovered the new targeting opportunity, we could not view the terms of service. They are now available here. Advertisers must agree they have consent from the data subjects whose data they are using and agree to remove a person’s data from the custom audience if they later opt-out of having their data used for commercial or promotional purposes.

Marketers can upload CSV or TXT files to Facebook, which hashes the data so users’ identities and information are protected. Facebook then runs this list against its own hashed database to find matches that can be targeted with ads. When this is done, the data is discarded, neither side collects more information about users. Hashed data cannot be decrypted.

Just as with other Facebook ads, the estimated reach can not be fewer than 20 users, so a company will not be able to serve ads to an individual user by email address, phone number or user ID. Some users have added backup email addresses to Facebook or listed a number of addresses on their profile over the years. Facebook will try to find a match among any of these.

After the advertiser’s and Facebook’s hashed data is compared, ads will be targeted to matches that fit the advertiser’s overall targeting criteria. Advertisers will be able to see what percentage of their audience they reached, but if they want to run additional campaigns, they’ll have to upload and hash their data again since it is discarded each time for security. Advertisers cannot use data they gain from custom audience campaigns for any purpose outside of Facebook.

Related Story:
Email, phone number and user ID targeting: how Facebook is helping businesses reach the right audiences

Fan Appz launches Social Database

Social media marketing platform Fan Appz announced a feature this week to help companies gather information about their fans that can then be applied to other marketing efforts.

With the new Social Database, marketers can begin to create individual customer profiles as users interact with Fan Appz applications. For example, a retailer might use the sweepstakes app to give away a prize on Facebook and then later use the poll app to drive additional engagement. Instead of those being isolated efforts that result in unclear business value, now the company can associate users’ contact info with their preferences, and run a more personalized email marketing campaign.

Fan Appz Founder and CEO Jon Siegal, who previously worked in the CRM space, says this function is about understanding fans and followers in order to provide a better experience for them and ultimately achieve business goals. He makes the comparison to a waiter who knows your name and what you like to eat.

“It’s about how well you know somebody. When you know their preferences, you do a much better job,” he says.

Siegal says the vision for his company is to apply CRM to social media, and Social Database is a key piece of that. Facebook quiz and coupon apps were just a start to get businesses up to this point. For many companies, 2009 and 2010 were about establishing a presence on Facebook and building a following, Siegal says. Last year was focused on the abstract goal of “engagement.” But the point of marketing is to drive sales of products or services.

“Social Database helps complete that last important piece.” Siegal says.

This seems to be a logical progression for the industry, and we expect other social media marketing platforms to add similar functionality in the near future. We’ve already seen Shoutlet launch Social Profiles this month. Ultimately these systems will enable more companies to serve consumers with a level attention and personalization that wasn’t previously possible on such a large scale.

Fan Appz also made several updates to its suite of applications, including new:

  • Publisher apps
  • Customizable designs and ways to share using engagement apps
  • Sweepstakes engine and refer-a-friend feature for promotion apps
  • Data analytics capabilities for publisher, engagement, promotions and white label apps
  • More secure admin panel from which to manage several social media pages at once
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