Hootsuite on Wednesday announced its acquisition of Sparkcentral, a software-as-a-service provider that enables one-to-one conversational messaging on social platforms like Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, WhatsApp, WeChat, SMS, and Chat.
The acquisition allows marketers to automate communications with customers across social media and messaging channels. Previously, this was a manual process and very time-consuming, said Rich Hungerford, vice president of corporate development and strategy at Hootsuite.
Automating the process gives marketers and customer service departments the ability to collaborate and gain richer insights to deliver tailored experiences online.
Sparkcentral’s 28 employees, who are mostly located in Belgium, will join the company. Christoph Neut, former CEO of Sparkcentral, will remain at Hootsuite as vice president of sales.
Sparkcentral's distribution platform automates the process of inbound messages. For example, a social media inquiry about lost airline luggage can be automatically routed to the luggage-handling team for a response, enabling teams to be much more efficient and coordinated in their responses.
Virtual agents can also participate, freeing up human agents to focus on conversations that require more of a human touch for a successful customer experience.
“There’s some overlap in customers, specifically in Europe where Sparkcentral has been focusing its sales efforts recently, which is one of the many reasons we viewed Sparkcentral as a great fit for our organization,” Hungerford said. “We feel the combination of social media marketing, social selling, social listening and social customer care capabilities into Hootsuite will appeal to new and existing customers from both organizations.”
With the acquisition, Sparkcentral's intellectual property and patents also become Hootsuite's. Hungerford said the company plans to use this technology, as well as the expertise of the team, to continue innovations.
Brands have been looking for ways to connect with the growing number of customers on the internet, specifically on social media.
The latest edition in Hootsuite’s ongoing series of Global Digital Reports reveals that more than 4.5 billion people worldwide now use the internet, while social media users have passed the 3.8 billion mark.
Nearly 300 million people came online for the first time during the past 12 months, with the majority of those new users living in developing economies.
On average, internet users spend two hours and 24 minutes using social media across all devices each day, accounting for more than one-third of total time spent on the internet.