The 2015 CRM Market Influential Leaders: Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

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It's been five years since CRM magazine first named Facebook's cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg an Influential Leader. Since then, his company has been regularly featured in the business press, but it's what Zuckerberg and crew have done during the past year that has earned him another Influential Leader nod.

Headed by the 30-year-old wunderkind, the social media network has made significant strides in giving brands more opportunities to connect with the right customers at the right time. During the past 12 months, Facebook has partnered with several CRM marketing vendors to further these efforts. In November 2014, the company teamed up with SAP to enable users of SAP's HANA platform to combine existing customer data with Facebook's Custom Audiences, to allow brands to develop more targeted ad campaigns on Facebook. In February, Marketo partnered with Facebook to integrate its Engagement Marketing Platform with Custom Audiences. Not to be outdone, in May, IBM struck a similar deal with Facebook, giving IBM Marketing Cloud users access to Custom Audiences as well.

"[Facebook wants to make] sure we understand our consumers so we can deliver the right message, [at] the right time, in the right place," said Blake Chandlee, vice president of global partnerships at Facebook, at IBM's Amplify event this year.

That's not all. In March, the company penned a deal with Zendesk to power Facebook's Businesses on Messenger chat product, enabling companies to communicate with customers through Facebook's messaging application. "Facebook's partnership with Zendesk…might not get the same publicity as other moves Facebook makes, but it's no less important," Brent Leary, founder of CRM Essentials, wrote in an email to CRM magazine. "The potential of engaging hundreds of millions of users to create better…experiences could have a huge impact on customer-vendor interactions going forward."

Though the Zendesk partnership is more related to customer service, chat applications are likely in the coming years to provide more opportunities for cross-selling and upselling.

And if Zuckerberg's plans to connect the entire world to the Internet are to be taken seriously, the available amount of data will only grow. "Being more connected," says Ray Wang, founder of Constellation Research, "gives you more options, more data, more insights."

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