Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Oct 16, 2015

Linkfluence buys China social-listening firm ActSocial

SHANGHAI - ActSocial, a China-based social-media intelligence company that was rebranded from Wildfire last September, has been wholly acquired by France-based Linkfluence.

Benjamin Duvall
Benjamin Duvall

Through the acquisition, Linkfluence is reaffirming its ambition to become more globalised after opening its office in London in January and buying Die Medialysten from Germany in July this year. ActSocial, at the same time, is moving toward its broader vision to grow outside of China.

Though social media is a major force impacting consumer attitudes and behaviour worldwide, usage habits and platforms differ greatly in China, said Benjamin Duvall, head of product and co­‐founder at ActSocial.

"The social-listening market is more mature in China as social media is a much deeper part of consumers' lives, but brands have not been fast enough to adapt," Duvall told Campaign Asia-Pacific in an exclusive interview.

Most brands have only used social media to take action in customer service, but are straining to utilise that in consumer insight and product innovation. "These are opportunities for us, and to be part of a bigger regional network enables us to beef up our analytics technology with Linkfluence's resources and access European best practices," he added.

The new group can now boast of global presence in France, Germany, UK, China and Singapore, with an ambition to become "a world leader in social-media intelligence" by 2017, added Linkfluence CEO Hervé Simonin.

The plan is to roll out "international social listening solutions" in 2016 and to double growth every year. Many social-listening companies claim to have international reach, but their language algorithms and research techniques are really too basic for that claim, Duvall said.

Beyond web crawling, data scraping and human tagging, it is crucial for brands to obtain analysis and insights from more advanced social-listening techniques, he said. "We need to bring an end to that era where clients get a 160-page deck of data every month to harvesting real-time insights from social intelligence".

Within China, one strategic consideration for ActSocial agreeing to be acquired was to compete better against "legacy social-intelligence companies" like CIC who have established "legacy relationships" with local players. That is a challenge for ActSocial, and difficult for the company to unseat.
 
"We can only do so much with guanxi; the other thing we can do is to have a better product," Duvall said. "In fact, the traditional system of influential relationships facilitating business dealings is getting less important as Chinese marketers develop a more meritocratic approach."
 
“ActSocial and Linkfluence share similar cultures,” stated ActSocial CEO Marc Rivoira. "These common traits will accelerate team integration and make it possible to launch our new offerings within weeks.”

Linkfluence's clients in Europe include Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Orange, Sanofi, Danone, Accor and Groupama, with ActSocial's contracts with SAP, Linkedin, DSM, Monsanto and Liquan Brewery in China transferred to Linkfluence post-acquisition.

"Our clients are mostly B2B companies, who will be mature enough to understand and accept the third-time name change (from Wildfire to ActSocial to Linkfluence)," said Duvall.

 

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