Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on stage during a past Dreamforce conference with Twitter's logo on the big screen.
Salesforce may not have acquired Twitter, but it's definitely leveraging it in its marketing cloud. PHOTO: Robert Scoble

Eleven months ago the tech world was abuzz with rumors flying that Salesforce might buy Twitter.

Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff had called the still struggling social media company an “unpolished jewel,” a “great brand” and the proposition of acquiring it “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

At the end of the day, Salesforce investors quashed the idea, but that hasn’t stopped Salesforce from finding ways to deliver value gleaned from Twitter to its customers.

Introducing Einstein Vision for Social Studio

Consider that earlier this week Salesforce introduced a new tool, Einstein Vision for Social Studio, which integrates AI-powered image recognition directly into its Marketing Cloud's social media marketing solution. And the “social media” that Salesforce leverages at this point is — you guessed it — Twitter.

“We have a close relationship with Twitter, the API is ready,” Rob Begg, VP product marketing for social and advertising products at Salesforce, told CMSWire.

Brand Insights Generate the Wow Factor

From a high level, Einstein Vision for Social Studio identifies images on Twitter to help brands glean insights about customers and to meet them where they are. There’s a new type of “wow” factor available, “an opportunity to surprise and delight consumers who have never mentioned a brand’s name,” explained Begg.

What’s more, brands will be able to get insights about how and where their products are being used, as well as consumer interests, likes, and needs in cases where a brand’s name is never even mentioned. Begg gave the example of a customer at a restaurant who tweets a picture of a burger and a comment about it not tasting great.

AI-Powered Social Media Image Recognition

Cindy Zhou, vice president and principal analyst at Cupertino, Calif.-based Constellation Research, told CMSWire that, “One of the challenges in marketing is to measure brand awareness impact at physical events. Marketers can quantify impact based on the reach and frequency of their logo and other images posted on social."

Opportunities for customer service can be brought forth as well, according to Zhou. “Brands can get in front of potential service issues," she said. "For example, posts from customers about defective products can alert service agents to reach out to those customers proactively to resolve or it possibly even lead to a broader recall."

Zhou said that this new capability has been brought forth via the technology Salesforce acquired through its MetaMind buy. Both she and Begg indicated that Twitter was the first implementation of how Salesforce would leverage AI-powered image recognition on social media.

Twitter's FourSquare Findings

In somewhat related news, Twitter this week also released some interesting insights based on data from Nielsen and location-based social networking service FourSquare. It is meant to demonstrate that promoted campaigns on Twitter generate substantial offline sales and store visits.

One of the findings is that telcos who advertise on Twitter yield 23 percent more onsite store visits. Another is that, after seeing ads on Twitter, consumers spend almost seven percent more with mobile wireless carriers.

“One of the top challenges for social platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat is to quantify social ad impact to driving actual sales online or offline for the advertiser,” Zhou told CMSWire.

Is Verizon Advertising Trending?

Zhou also found it interesting that she has personally seen an increase in carrier advertising, such as Verizon’s #VZup campaign high in her Twitter feed as of late. 

Her take is that Twitter will use the aforementioned data as part of a sales narrative to have existing advertisers up their budgets or to encourage other mobile carriers and telcos to advertise on the platform.

“Providing these mobile carriers/telcos with metrics to quantify ad impact justifies the ad budget," she said, "and the hope is to transfer the process to other industries."