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Many businesses may have little idea what their social media marketing and ad campaigns are producing in the way of ROI, but by and large companies continue to up their investments in social.

That has created a booming business for firms that popped up to help companies manage and track their social campaigns. A booming business that caught the attention of some of the biggest names in tech.

Last month, Salesforce.com bought Buddy Media for $745m. Previously it had purchased social media monitoring firm Radian6 for more than $300m. A day later, Oracle announced that it was buying monitoring company Collective Intellect for an undisclosed amount, building on its prior acquisition of Buddy Media competitor Vitrue for some $300m.

And Oracle isn't apparently done yet as today it agreed to buy social media platform provider Involver. A statement on the Oracle website reads:

Companies are looking to harness the full potential of social media to increase brand loyalty, connect with potential customers and anticipate buyers' needs. The combination of Involver with Oracle is expected to create the most advanced and comprehensive cloud-based social platform across marketing, sales and service touchpoints. Involver's SML technology is expected to extend Oracle's social platform to help customers more easily and cost-effectively collaborate and build engaging applications and social experiences across their social campaigns and sites.

Involver claims that more than 1m brands and agencies are using its tools to manage social initiatives. According to Involver, which is a Facebook Marketing Developer partner, its platform "acts as a marketer's system of record, bringing everything from app management and stream response/moderation to publishing updates and analytics into a single intuitive interface."

The big question now is whether the consolidation in this market will benefit customers. Companies like Oracle obviously see social as an important area for investment, but it's not clear that buying up a bunch of startups in the space will produce greater innovation and better customer experiences.

If the Oracles of the world can combine their social acquisitions to create a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts, it could go a long way toward helping companies figure out what social is actually doing for them. If, however, these acquisitions are merely part of a checklist exercise for one of the world's largest technology firms, customers of the acquired companies could be in for disappointment.

Patricio Robles

Published 10 July, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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