Salesforce Extends Marketing Cloud to Instagram

Salesforce earlier this week announced that it has extended its, Active Audiences and Social Studio marketing tools to Instagram.

These tools let marketers buy and manage advertising, publish content, participate in and review discussions with customers, resolve customer service issues, and analyze conversations.

Marketers already are using these tools on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube. They now “can now leverage [them] to also connect with Instagram’s 300 million-strong user community,” Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Scott McCorkle told CRM Buyer.

Adding Instagram to the mix “gives Salesforce another opportunity to talk about the strides it thinks it’s making in presenting the Marketing Cloud as a joined-up proposition,” remarked Matt Mullen, a senior analyst at 451 Research.

Instagram joins Facebook and several ad networks as places where ads can be bid for and purchased, based on segmentations created within the Marketing Cloud, he told CRM Buyer.

“The trouble is that as things stand, it’s really early for this set of integrations within the Marketing Cloud,” Mullen pointed out, “functionality is still pretty basic and not especially easy to use, from what we’ve seen.”

It’s for Marketers, Not the Enterprise

The Cloud “might well work for a skilled practitioner, but those primarily exist at an agency level, not within the median marketing organization,” Mullen said.

Salesforce is counting on there being considerable pent-up demand for enterprise-managed ad buying, which will let it augment its core CRM business, but “we’re far from convinced at this point in time whether the convergence between direct ad buying and enterprise marketing is really a thing at all,” Mullen observed.

“The majority of that buying will likely remain at an agency level for a long time,” he noted.

On the other hand, businesses increasingly are looking for richer customer engagement capabilities on social networks, such as being able to deliver cross-channel or omnichannel customer experiences, said Ashwin Iyer, contact center global director at Frost & Sullivan.

“By leveraging meaningful customer insights and intelligence from marketing automation systems, marketers will be able to better target Instagram users with the right ads at the right time,” he told CRM Buyer.

“If done right, that can help improve the customer experience,” Iyer said. “If implemented poorly, it could inundate customers with more irrelevant content and negatively impact the customer experience.”

Moving Toward the Future

The tie-in with Instagram will let Salesforce tap into the mobile market.

“Because mobile advertising revenues are growing very quickly, this provides a convenient way to add another highly engaging platform to the [Salesforce Marketing Cloud] suite,” noted Hiral Jasani, digital media industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

That might mean big bucks for Salesforce and its customers.

Instagram will pull in US$595 million in mobile ad revenue worldwide this year and $2.81 billion in 2017, according to eMarketer.

The Salesforce Marketing Cloud has a large user base of marketers, and Instagram “will see a lot of companies starting to take it seriously,” Jasani suggested.

For Instagram, Salesforce “is a nice recognizable logo they can talk about,” 451 Research’s Mullen said, “but I suspect the bulk of any revenue at this point [will come] from the less-well-known likes of Kenshoo and Brand Networks.”

Instagram has to ensure the end-user experience is seamless, Frost’s Jasani said, and Salesforce will “need to convince marketers to invest in a separate tool if they’re not big on mobile.”

What About CRM?

“I don’t see this as significant to CRM right now in any other way beyond ‘marketecture,’ Mullen remarked.

“It’s part of a bigger story Salesforce is promoting, but in terms of what customers are doing right now or are capable of doing, it’s pretty insignificant.”

Perhaps Salesforce should look toward extending the tie-in to desktops — Instagram works only on mobile devices, Frost’s Jasani suggested. Extending to the desktop would let marketers use their collateral, most of which resides on the desktop, across all channels.

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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