Google Boosts Local Information Related Portfolio Enabling Social and Local Commerce

While cutting down few projects in last few weeks, Google is adding new armour in its portfolio. Last week it bought Zave Networks for deals and coupons  http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/fall-spring-clean.html . Today, Google bought Zagat which provides reviews mainly on restaurants. This is a bad news for Yelp which is preparing for IPO. Google tried to buy Yelp at 500 million however it was rejected. Since then there are ups and down relationship between them. For example, Google added Yelp results in local searches however it added its Google Places related button in the results such a way the user would go to Google places. Yelp had complained about it. Now, Google added Zagat for reviews and ratings. As per Zagat’s blog, Zagat has established a trusted and well-loved brand the world over, operating in 13 categories and more than 100 cities. It has more than 350,000 surveyors. Zagat established in 1979 and went through different market and focus. It has been trying to encash this new value of social and crowd intelligence. It had put up itself for sell at around $200 million but it seems that it is sold under 60million. It is still a huge amount. Especially when the real value is coming from its content that is populated freely by public. Content is the king! Big Data Zindabad!

Anyway, back to Google! With Google places, Google Reviews (Zagat) and Google Offers + Google Deals (Zavo), google is now positioned much better in completing its local services. With mobile apps, it can very well provide local contextual searches – offers – and of course, advertisements! and make money.

With Google APIs for various these services and possibly Google widgets , Google would be able to help in mobile, local, and social commerce.

Perception Gap in Why Customers Interact with Companies on Social Media

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As we all know that social media is no more just a fun for businesses. They are seriously getting engaged in social media by doing various things like Facebook fan pages, Twitter, forums, blogs, etc. Social Commerce and Social CRM are important new intiatives in businesses. The customers are also acrtively getting engaged in such interactions. So it is very important to understand why interactions are happening so that the interactions can be properly handled. There are various purposes that customers interact with business on social media.

IBM Institutte for Business Value Analysis recently published a summary paper of survey of CRM on Social media. One of the important finding in the paper was about a perception gap between how the companies, who create fan pages or engage in social media intitives, think about what could be customers value to different aspects of the interaction vs how the customer really think about them.

Here is what they found:

You can notice a gap between how consumers rank vs business rank. Discounts (Deals, offers), purchases, getting product information, reviews, ranking etc top the consumers list. While learning new products, getting information, feeling connected, customer service, to be part of community were ranked higher by the businesses. The businesses gave more than needed importance to feeling connected, being a part of community. At the same time, they missed that consumers give more importances to purchases and discounts. So there are good opportunities for SocialCommerce!

Social Media Monitoring – Engagement would be core to CRM

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Kana announced acquisition of Overtone, Social Media Monitoring platform. This announcement is at the heels of recent announcement by Salesforce of acquisition of Radian6around 350 million. Kana has not disclosed the terms. This acquisition is another example of acquisition frenzy into the world of Social media Monitoring which would be a part of Social CRM.

Typical functionalities of Social Media Monitoring are:

1. Monitoring social media buzz across various sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, as well as various QA sites / survyes. The monitoring covers sentiment analysis, response to product releases / campaigns / news PR, feedbacks on products, grivenance about product / people / company, competitor analysis, trends, feature requests etc.

2. Social Media Engagement: Tracking conversations from customers / partners across multiple channels and engaging into the conversations. This is expected to result into better customer / public opinions. Such conversations often take place on public sites and would eventually be monitored by investors too.

3. Social Analytics: Root cause analysis, Analysis of customer profiles, customer response, sentiment, product buzz, competitors analysis are areas where a lot of work is being done and would be done.

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