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The 27 year old CEO turning Asia Pac brands onto social media

Socialbakers Socialbakers
Photo credit:

mkhmarketing

SocialBakersSocial media analytics firm Socialbakers has increased its Singapore team from one to 20 in the last year. Hot Topics asked the company’s CEO Jan Rezab why…

 

Even in the world of tech startups, Jan Rezab is prodigious. The CEO and founder of Socialbakers is just 27 – but he looks younger.

Don’t be distracted though. Rezab’s immense energy and conviction have powered his company to the forefront of the social media analytics space. Today, Socialbakers provides 2,700 clients (including half of the Fortune 500) with social media metrics, and employs 300 people in 13 offices worldwide.

The story began in the Czech Republic in 2008 when Rezab and his colleagues Lukas Maixner and Martin Homolka began tracking Facebook in the course of running their own agency, Candytech. They created a web destination called Facebakers to display Facebook statistics and soon realized the site had more potential than the agency business.

At the end of 2010, they renamed Facebakers as Socialbakers.

Over time, the product evolved from one that unearthed generic data about social networks to one that brands could use to track their own presence on these sites. In time, that approach also demanded an upgrade too. Today, Socialbakers goes much deeper.

Typically, Socialbakers is a ‘software as a service type’ company that offers a bunch of free data in addition to monthly plans that go from $120 to $1000.

 

The product offering now includes:

 

– Socialbakers Analytics –a dashboard to measure and compare social media performance

– Socialbakers Ad Analytics – a tool to measure the effectiveness of social advertising

– Socialbakers Builder – intelligent content management

– Socialbakers Listening – tracks conversations across Facebook and Twitter in real time by keyword

– Socialbakers.com – a free portal packed with stats and blog posts. It attracts more than one million visits a month

 

Rezab says: “What we do revolves around client goals, and that means offering more and more customization. The product is very modular now, so brands can create their own dashboards on top. In fact, we recently built a dedicated dashboard for Lenovo across their worldwide operation to track all their social performances.”

Self-evidently Rezab is evangelical about the power of social media, and the perils that lie in wait for those who misunderstand this.

He frequently tells the story of the traveller whose luggage had been lost, and who was stranded at his destination for two days. He alerted his airline by social media. The airline did the right thing, and responded. But it took three days to do so.

Clearly, if Socialbakers growth is any indication, brands are listening. Rezab knows the key to the firm’s ongoing success lies in the way it presents the information it gathers, and turns this into actionable data.

Thus, customers can log in to their account and see at a glance key data about their social activity and profile. And they can easily merge data sets and create easy-to-read visual representations of them.

Rezab says: “There are loads of typical social listening tools out there that monitor keywords and perhaps some sentiment, and that’s basically it. Our tools give clients an inspirational view of what they should be doing by benchmarking against competitors, looking at engagement by time of day or week and so on.”

Socialbakers was bootstrapped for years, and currently makes money. But it has lofty ambitions, which prompted the completion of a $26 million Series C funding round led by Index Ventures and Earlybird in February of this year.

A good chunk of the funding has been set aside for Asia Pac expansion. The firm opened its Asia headquarters in Singapore, and the appointed a new vice president to lead its business in the region, Simon Trilsbach, formerly of Experian Marketing Services.

Rezab says: “By 2017, Asia-Pacific will have the largest social network population worldwide. By investing in the region now, we are positioning Socialbakers to help both global and regional brands to benchmark their social marketing performance.”

Interestingly, he believes the Asia Pac consumer is not so different from elsewhere – and might even be ahead. “In terms of posting and understanding, they’re ahead. China apart, though, they use the same social networks. In fact, they’re probably closer to the US than Europe because they like Pinterest so much, for example.”

The bigger difference lies with the budgets set aside by Asia Pac brands. “Some companies are reluctant to spend bigger sums on social media. They still lack the measures to justify spending millions on social. But they need to be at the point where they are spending 10 per cent of company spends – company, not digital – on social. And they will. It will solve itself, I think.”

That said, some of Socialbakers’ exemplary clients come from the Asia region: Shangri-La Hotels pairs its CRM all way to the manager of individual duties so it can link a complaint to a specific hotel and then respond immediately.

Shangri-La is what Socialbakers would describe as a ‘socially devoted’ company – a term it coined in 2012. In fact, it even set out criteria (see box) to define what social devotion is. Its mission now is to take this to the world.

 

Totally devoted

 

For brands, social engagement can be intimidating. Direct communication with consumers is a relatively new phenomenon. It’s hard to know what to do.

In 2012, Socialbakers decided to move beyond generalizations and give some hard advice. It created an industry standard called ‘Socially Devoted’ with specific directions on how to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more.

Here are its three main guidelines:

 

An open line of communication

Brands should be posting sharable content that followers can engage with. Pages must be open so that fans can post comments and questions.

 

Respond at least 65 per cent of the time

During Q2 2013, the volume of questions asked by fans increased by 85 per cent year on year. The volume is soaring, but the questions must still be answered.

 

The company responds in a timely fashion

Socialbakers advises brands to try to respond within 30 minutes.

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