SAN FRANCISCO: Monitoring outfit Meltwater Group has acquired social CRM firm JitterJam for $6 million, marking a significant step for the company into the digital engagement arena.

Based in Bedford, New Hampshire, JitterJam provides a blend of social analytics and CRM – with a particular focus on digital influencer marketing. Meltwater Group CEO and founder Jorn Lyseggen said the purchase was part of an overall strategy to grow the company’s social media revenues to $100 million within the next three years.

JitterJam’s seven employees will join Meltwater Group, and its platform will eventually be integrated with the Meltwater Buzz social media monitoring service.

“What we have done mostly up until this point is really more listening and analytics,” Lyseggen told the Holmes Report. “With JitterJam, we are really entering into the engagement space as well.”

Lyseggen pointed to JitterJam’s CRM software, which combines database marketing with social media analytics, as a particular attraction. He also said that the social CRM space offered more opportunity, as opposed to buying a pure digital marketing or online creative agency.

“Engagement alone, without a context, does not really convey a lot of meaning,” explained Lyseggen. “Social media can be used for so many different applications – all of them require very different types of engagement, and engagement should also be a function of who you engage with.”

“And secondly, what context you are engaging in? If you really want to engage in social media you very quickly start to think in terms of CRM principles. You need a CRM solution tailored specifically for a social media crowd.”

The Gartner Group forecasts that by 2013, spending on social software to support sales, marketing and customer service processes will exceed $1 billion worldwide. The firm also predicts that over the next two years, 30 percent of leading companies will extend their online community activities to enhanced processes such as social CRM.

Last year, Meltwater bought social media monitoring firm BuzzGain. The latest acquisition is one of many examples of consolidation among social media agencies and software suppliers. Earlier this month, rival monitoring company Radian6 bought its UK licensee 6Consulting.

“It’s not going to stop anytime soon,” said Lyseggen of the trend towards consolidation. “Whenever we see a good fit that will strengthen our existing social media offering, we will consider it very seriously.”