The new Social Switchboard feature makes it possible to define a series of posts in a campaign that can be released in response to events. For example, if a post to Twitter reaches a critical mass of retweets, that could trigger a follow-up Twitter post, the launch of page tab on Facebook, the publication of a video on YouTube--or any number of other social media actions designed to capitalize on the momentum of a campaign.
Shoutlet competes with Buddy Media and Vitrue in providing tools for marketers to reach customers on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. Shoutlet 5.0 also includes a new creative design tool, Social Canvas, and a new Social Profiles module for gathering information about social media contacts and using it to target and segment them.
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Social Switchboard is the biggest news for big brands.
"We see more of the marketers working with idea of having an entire strategy mapped out, before they ever set foot on the ground. They need to have 15 different pieces of a social campaign going off--a lot of them dependent on the previous piece--and when that's done manually, it has made the social media manager's job a lot more difficult," Shoutlet CEO Jason Weaver said. The idea for the Social Switchboard feature came from conversations with major customers such as Lands' End that were running these sophisticated campaigns, he said.
One way that triggers can be used is for what marketers call "A/B testing"--preparing two versions of a campaign and testing which messages or themes or images draw the best audience reaction. If one version takes off and the other bombs, triggers make it possible to fire off more posts that build on the successful campaign, while letting the unsuccessful one die.
The other way Shoutlet 5.0 speeds things up is with Social Canvas, which is meant to be for social marketers sort of what Photoshop is for print advertising designers. Social Canvas provides simple drawing and layout tools, as well as the ability to plug in interactive modules--for example, to add Pinterest integration--without coding (see video). The results can be published to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, RSS feeds, podcasts, and Web apps--with the option to publish variations on the same content to each medium.
"Most social media mangers are not programmers. This lets them pull in a background image, pull in some text, and have something ready to go," Weaver said.
"This will allow us to instantaneously put stuff out there, as fast as we want to," said Ryan Koechel, an e-commerce manager at Spectrum Brands who manages social media campaigns for Remington and several other appliance brands, such as George Foreman grills and Black & Decker kitchen devices.
For example, the next time he gets an alert from his Twitter account representative that hair care is emerging as a trending topic, his creative team will be able to rapidly assemble and publish new promotion and link to it from a Twitter post, along with an accompanying page tab for Facebook.
The trigger capability is also an important advance, Koechel said. "It's an extension of what we already do with our email service provider. Automating anything is great," he said, particularly since social media marketers are often buried in repetitive tasks.
Social media are generating tons of data, but that data only becomes truly valuable when examined in context. Attend the virtual Enterprise 2.0 event Social Analytics: The Bridge To Business Value, and learn how social analytics will provide the bridge to unlocking business value. It happens Feb. 16.