Join top executives in San Francisco on July 11-12, to hear how leaders are integrating and optimizing AI investments for success. Learn More

When Lithium Technologies — providers of social customer service platforms to the likes of Skype, Sony, and Telus — acquired Klout in 2014, it laid out plans to incorporate the influence measurement platform’s algorithms in what it called “new Lithium.”

Its initial offerings under that banner were two new Klout-branded products: Klout Products and Klout Pop-Up Communities. Today, Lithium is revealing a new Lithium-branded solution that uses Klout under the hood.

Lithium Reach is a new social marketing product that aims to maximize customer engagement across social channels, blogs, and online communities. The aim? To enable what Lithium calls a “total community strategy” for its clients that helps to engage customers in two-way conversations across digital channels and throughout the customer lifecycle.

So how does Lithium Reach work? It allows you to curate, manage, and publish relevant content, including user-generated content from your online communities. That’s where Klout’s algorithms get to work. Lithium Reach shows you recommendations on which content to post and when to post it.

And how, specifically, are Klout’s algorithms being used in Reach?

“We’re using Klout algorithms in a few different ways within Reach,” Katy Keim, CMO at Lithium Technologies, told me. “Both on selecting the right trending content to post and on determining the best time to post it.”

First, content curation is underpinned by the influence measurement system.

“Brands can set up search terms to pull in the most engaging content on over 10,000 topics,” Keim said. “Our content recommendation system works by collecting the most relevant and engaging articles from social networks and from thousands of RSS feeds. Determining the most engaging content is based on a number of factors — how often that content was shared on social channels, how influential the people are sharing the content, past performance of that publisher, how relevant that content is to the audience engaging with it, as well as how relevant it is to the brand and their target audience.”

Lithium can also determine how likely it is that a piece of content will aid a particular end goal.

“Our predictive algorithms can identify content that is likely to hit an inflection point,” Keim said. “Each article is placed into various topic categories using natural language processing (NLP), and recommended to users based on their criteria via a machine learning model that gets better over time to continually improve the recommendations.”

Lithium Reach_content discovery

The Klout algorithm is also being used to determine the best time to post this content. But as I pointed out in my research on social media marketing tools, you have to be very careful about aggregated “best time” research. If everyone were to post at the best aggregated time, it would automatically cease to be the best time to post due to the increased noise. Lithium Reach is taking the smarter route to automated post optimization.

“Klout can determine the how and when people engage with content across social networks,” Keim said. “We calculate an individual time profile for every Reach customer based on the activity timing of their followers and others in their influence graph (anyone their followers touch, and their followers’ followers, and so on). We refresh these on a weekly basis. Our recommendations are optimized for each customer, the network they’re posting on, their past history, the behavior of their audience, and our deep knowledge of how topical content performs on social media.”

While Reach is clearly designed to find compelling content, share it at the right time, and allow for a two-way conversation with the buying public, brand use of social media is anything but social.

Our studies show that around 70 percent of the top brands on Twitter use it in broadcast-only mode, never engaging with the audience. So what is the future of social media marketing in a world where brands tend to have one-way conversations?

“It’s an alarming figure, especially if you consider how much brands spend on social media every year: Forrester estimates $15.5 billion for 2016,” Keim said. “I think what’s happening here is that brands are still trying to apply old analog, advertising-based methods to new technologies and new channels.

“They’re still talking at customers, not with customers,” she continued. “We actually just completed a research project on 85 Fortune 1000 Companies that finds only two percent consistently respond to their followers’ posts across social channels. It’s a real missed opportunity to engage.”

So what should companies be mindful of as we continue to communicate — more than ever — with a mobile audience, and how does that affect social engagement?

“Be concise (a mobile screen is only so large), be timely (with the proliferation of mobile, customers are always on, and so you must be too), be useful (people use our mobile connectivity to get things done),” Keim said.

Lithium Reach is a single tool for campaign planning, content creation, content approvals, publishing, and analytics, but can be combined with Lithium Response, a social customer care tool. Reach is available from today.

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.