Spredfast launches Spark, an analytics platform for predicting and engaging social media trends

Today, social marketing platform Spredfast announced the release of Spark, a new tool to help marketers predict and take advantage of trending topics on social media.

This is the first joint product launched by Spredfast after it merged last month with fellow Austin-based social media marketing platform Mass Relevance.  Back then, Spredfast CEO Rod Favaron said we would see a  point of integration for the two platforms in 30-45 days, and it’s been delivered right on schedule with Spark.

The primary function of Spark is to help brands engage in real-time marketing by analyzing and predicting trending social media topics. If Mass Relevance was for pulling in and incorporating social media content into a campaign, and Spredfast was for pushing social media content and cross channel management, Spark is a hybrid of both platforms. In addition to its “listening” capabilities, Spark also contains the social media curation, real-time engagement and content management features of both Mass Relevance and Spredfast.

Ultimately the goal of Spark is to solve two big problems for marketers looking to engage in real-time marketing,  which is to help them discover their entry point, and then remove the friction around making it happen.

“We’re hearing from customers all the time, there’s a gap in the market for a product that allows them to identify the right opportunities to engage and take action immediately,” said Rod Favaron, CEO of Spredfast.  “With Spark, we’re filling that gap plus some, by giving marketers a solution that includes discovering more moments to market, personalized trending alerts, content-creation inspiration and creative engagement.”

Much like the Mass Relevance and Spredfast displays, Spark’s dashboard is a clean, and very intuitive user interface. Users can feed in topics or keywords they want to monitor on Twitter and the platform returns a score for that keyword from 1 to 10 based on how popular it is. It also returns complete results for popular photos associated with that topic as well as the most popular tweets, users and accounts. Drilling down into any one of those lists helps marketers analyze conversations, user-generated content and identify influencers.

Here’s a snapshot of what the screen looks like with a search for “Wholefoods” (a major Spredfast client, along with Warner Bros. AT&T and Chobani.)

In addition to getting all the current information about a trending topic, the platform user can see monitor how other brands are engaging the topic, so that they can decide how to tailor their own response, if required.

So far, although it’s an attractive and easy to navigate interface, the platform isn’t doing anything novel. It gets really interesting when you see the top right hand corner which displays a bar graph in blue and green sections. The blue graph shows how the topic has trended in the last 24 hours, but the green section is a prediction of how much it will trend in the next four hours. That information is crucial for marketers looking to get ahead of the curve in real time marketing. If a trending topic has already past its peak, it’s probably not worth engaging in, but if the graph shows it’s about to blow up in the Twittersphere, a smart marketer has that extra bit of time to create a piece of relevant content and post it at exactly the right time. This may be a matter of minutes or hours, but it’s vital for marketers looking to gain a tiny advantage of getting there first and getting it right.

Users can also personalize topics and set up notifications for terms they think may impact the company during any period.

In addition to identifying a point of entry, Spark also enables marketers to take action within the platform. Marketers can identify and collect user-generated content that can be used for a brand’s display (ala Mass Relevance) and they can also share reports of a trending topic to a creative team/agency to come up with opportunistic content (ala Oreo’s “dunk in the dark” moment.) The platform also includes the regular features of one-to-one social media engagement  such as responding to fans or engaging influencers.

This makes Spark a formidable standalone social media marketing platform, fulfilling all the required functions of analytics, real-time engagement, content curation and campaign management. The only thing lacking is a paid social component. However, there’s plenty of competition in the social analytics space that Spark will have to contend with. Salesforce just came out with “Social Studio,” a long awaited integration of Radian6 and Buddy Media to perform both social media listening and content management functions in a single platform. In addition, there are solutions from Lithium Technologies, and fellow Austin-based Dachis Group, which specializes in real-time marketing and just got acquired by Sprinklr, another social marketing powerhouse.

However, the Spark platform’s predictive analytics are a key selling point, and so is the platform’s ability to go beyond just social media listening.

“We think listening has its place, but it’s in the past,” says Spredfast’s chief product officer Manish Mehta. “What we’re giving marketers is the ability to pivot, act and engage based on the data that’s right here, right now.”

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