10 Big Deals Show Future Of Social Apps

Several recent acquisitions in the social networking market point to a not-so-distant merger of social and business apps.

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Social and business apps are colliding. In the last year, dozens of companies have acquired others in the social media market, as giants and would-be giants jockey for position. In addition, we are seeing native social networking companies such as Facebook building out their platforms with business-like capabilities, while business platforms such as Salesforce.com add social capabilities.

In this gallery, we take a look at a few of the many recent (and pending) social business-focused acquisitions. The deals we highlight here aren't necessarily the biggest, or the first, or unique, but they signify important trends for not only social networking but also business apps in general.

Marketing consulting: Companies that have previously just dipped their toes into marketing on social networking platforms are finding themselves ready to dive in--but not without a lifejacket of sorts. Many organizations are looking to increase the scale of their campaigns, and companies like Buddy Media (in Salesforce.com's sights) and Vitrue (recently acquired by Oracle) can help companies centrally create, publish, moderate, manage, measure, and report on their social marketing campaigns.

Analytics: Much of the big data we hear so much about these days is being generated from social networking platforms, and a number of recent acquisitions center on companies that provide the ability to make sense of all of that information.

Gamification: Games have been one of social networking's killer apps from the beginning, and games continue to drive downloads, sales, advertising revenue, and audience. Increasingly, game mechanics are making their way into business applications. Many recent acquisitions reflect gamification's popularity and importance.

Integration with productivity apps: At some point in the near future, all business applications will likely have some kind of social capabilities running through their veins. Acquisitions such as Yammer's purchase of OneDrum, which enables real-time collaboration on Microsoft Office documents, are testament to the direction in which business apps are heading.

Mobile: Many recent acquisitions have mobile overtones, as social networking and business application vendors seek to reach users whenever and wherever they are.

Location: Speaking of reaching users wherever they are, location-based services are key to social success, and a number of companies are acquiring technology that will enable them to engage users and focus advertising based on user location.

Influence: As organizations seek to engage new audience, they are looking to influence the influencers. Identifying those people is at the heart of several recent acquisitions.

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