Is there room in the crowded social marketing ecosystem for another player?
Yes, says startup Parllay, which today is emerging from its beta with two products that it says fill in some missing connections.
The products’ descriptors reflect the company’s attempt to connect the dots. They are the trend intelligence/content marketing platform Parllay Studio and the branded community/loyalty marketing platform Parllay Channels.
The key problem with social marketing, according to CEO, founder, and ex-Microsoft executive Tarek Najm, is that brands participate in social media as a way to build a fan base.
“But is anybody buying my product?”
His company’s solution has two steps.
First, listen to topics and trends on social media, conduct social campaigns with tools like coupons or ads, and then discover and serve up related user-generated and brand-created content. That’s essentially what Parllay Studio does.
Another way to look at Parllay Studio, Najm told VentureBeat, is that it is content marketing platform Percolate married with Salesforce’s social management suite Social Studio — plus a semantics engine to categorize content.
Second step: use that content and those fans to create branded communities that include aggregated original and user-generated content, game-like activities, social interaction like personalized messages, promotions, rewards — and opportunities to buy the brand’s products. That’s Parllay Channels.
He compared Channels’ content + social environment to Rebelmouse, a publishing platform with social tools — except that Channels is also designed to feed brand purchases. The brand supplies the ecommerce platform.
In other words, as Najm noted, “marketing should lead into sales.”
Parllay sees its opening as connecting the two. Many existing tools “might be very good at what they do, but each is an island,” he said, pointing to social media listener Brandwatch as one example.
Other platforms “are good and unified,” he said, citing Hootsuite and Salesforce’s Social Studio, but they don’t complete the task of linking fans with content and then with purchases.
There’s also, he said, the matter of pricing, especially for enterprise versions of social engagement platforms. Parllay’s pricing starts at $500/month for a department of 10 people or less.
“Our view is that it’s still version 1.0 [for social marketing platforms],” he told us.
Which would mean there’s plenty of room for 2.0.