But things are, in fact changing, and there is a strong Canadian contingent pressing that change. Facebook’s recent partnership with Chango, for instance, is helping the social media giant monetize by creating targeted ads for users based on their non-Facebook activity. Add this to the rise of Vancouver’s Hootsuite, and we have clear evidence that Canada will be a player in social media’s transformation to widespread reality.
Hootsuite and Chango are fast being joined by other Canadian start-ups that are already carving out an international presence.
Hootsuite’s CEO Ryan Holmes, in a recent interview, predicted a definitive shift in the advertising paradigm from traditional to social media. We are still early in 2013, but somehow this is the first year that such a statement doesn’t sound like blowing smoke.
The big boys have already arrived at the social monetization starting line: there’s increasing evidence that Google is weighting social media signals as a key part of the secret sauce its uses to determine the ranking on its search engine results page.
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The successful adaptation of social media by even the largest of multinationals is another clear indicator that dedicated attention to customer’s concerns via social media feeds creates a much richer relationship than a scattershot and comparatively random media campaign.
That’s what Montreal-based Wajam thinks, too. Wajam, which adds a plugin to your browser that enables it to integrate social signals from places like Yahoo, Google Plus and Bing into your search, says it has indexed nine-billion pages of social content, and is on its way towards becoming a much-needed neutral brand in social marketing. The company recently won a Red Herring Top 100 Global award, which is reserved for promising start-ups.
But what if you don’t necessarily value the social signals that Facebook and the like are sending you? There’s another startup, also based in Montreal, solving that particular riddle. While your dear Aunt Jill’s proclamation of Cats as the greatest achievement in Western literature since Hamlet may be skewing your Facebook feed to places you dare not venture, Bunch connects you with people based on interests rather than things like familial obligation.
What Bunch is doing is what the kids these days call growth hacking. Growth hacking was, according to expert Danielle Morrill, a disruption born out of necessity, and could set traditional marketing on its ear.
“The best growth hackers are questioning marketing as we know it today, because the online tactics that were once the territory of a select few are now table stakes,” she told Techcrunch recently. “Metrics, scalability, lean, and iteration used to be words that came from a product team. With growth hacking, the best marketers sound like product gurus and software engineers.”
What do Canada’s best social media start-ups shares with the world? All were created on a shoestring and scaled quickly. What they also share with the best of the modern marketers is that they champion data above all else, and they have gathered and curated that data on a global scale. This has less to do with traditional marketing avenues every day, and even less to do with the $10,000 Kim Kardashian just banked from Shoedazzle.com.