Context Optional Serves Facebook News Feeds, In-Stream Polls And Coupons

Context Optional

Facebook Fans of brands can receive a variety of polls and messages without having to leave their page. The goods are delivered in their status update. Social marketing company Context Optional will deliver them. The software as a service (SaaS) company plans to launch Wednesday tools for retailers as part of its Social Marketing Suite.

The platform lets companies build, monitor and manage a presence on the social site. The features for retailers offer coupons, sweepstakes, polls, and product catalogs that appear in the stream.

Kevin Barenblat, chief executive officer and cofounder at Context Optional, says the company has been working with about a dozen retail partners like Kohls and Threadless to create the tools.

The online retailers, Threadless, became the first to launch the consumer poll Tuesday and within two hours had about 700 responses.



The features will allow Threadless to communicate with Fans directly in the stream on their Facebook page status update, rather than the retailer's, according to Cam Balzer, vice president of marketing for the company. The poll serves up in the news stream. The Fan of the brand only needs to click on the play button to expand and take the poll.

Balzer also plans to use the tool's geographic targeting feature, which has been available in Facebook, as Threadless expands into countries around the world other than the U.S. "Targeting specific languages rather than scattershot messages across the entire Facebook universe will help," he says.

Coupons would help reduce the cost for consumers who buy products from Threadless outside the U.S. The coupons would serve up on pages of the brand's Fans overseas. The scheduling feature in Context Optional's platform combined with Facebook's knowledge of geographic regions allows Threadless to target specific offers per location.

And although Facebook has been flooded with privacy woes from implementing its social graph platform, Balzer, who has been using Facebook to market goods for the past three years, has not seen a decline in activity. He says it's typical to see "a bit of backlash" after every change Facebook makes until people become more accustomed to them.

Threadless Facebook Fans keep coming back. A dashboard in Context Optional's platform will allow Balzer and other marketers to track performance and manage multiple pages through one interface. Options include the ability to create dynamic coupons and publish on a Facebook Page and in the stream, allow users to print coupons from the Web or send to their mobile phones, and promote new products through integrated ecommerce solutions.

Marketers also can target and customize messages to fans based on their location; publish images, video and links to the stream with built-in tracking; and engage fans with interactive coupons, polls and catalogs in the stream.

Last week the company began providing location-based marketing services and geotargeted publishing features with concert promoter Live Nation. Context Optional's Barenblat claims the company is the only one to offer the ability to schedule geotargeted in stream campaigns. He says others have tried, but failed.

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