Salesforce.com Ramps Up its Play Into Social-Media Monitoring

New Applications Built On Radian6 to Allow Brands to Connect With Customers

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Social media allows brands to have direct conversations with customers, but that can mean millions of potential conversations -- which is a problem enterprise cloud-computing giant Salesforce.com is hoping to solve.

Salesforce.com is charging deeper into the social listening space with a host of new products announced today designed to work with Radian6, which the company acquired for $326 million in March.

Radian6's social-media-listening technology that tracks conversations across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and online communities. Dubbed the "social-marketing cloud," the new products include an analytics component from partners like OpenAmplify, OpenCalais and Klout to gauge intent to buy or customer satisfaction. In addition, Salesforce.com hopes to provide actionable intelligence via social channels that can be programmed to automatically perform actions like creating sales leads or customer-service cases within its software.

Marcel LeBrun, senior VP and general manager of Salesforce Radian6, said one goal behind the new products was to address clients' customer-service needs through different, more efficient means than the phone.

"We're trying to figure out: How do you actually have more customer conversations, but do it cost effectively?" he said.

Salesforce.com counts UPS, Southwest Airlines and PepsiCo among its clients, and its focus on layering social products onto its cloud-based software is a testament to corporate America's fixation with cracking the code on social.

Other new products include a Facebook-management tool and a "social hub" that allows for communicating with customers on social networks, as well as routing social content into Salesforce's customer-relationship-management software. For example, if social-media users are advocating a product developed by a client, a rule could be built to automatically add them to a database of contacts within Salesforce. There's also a social-web-publishing functionality, allowing clients to easily pull in social conversations to publish on their websites.

The social-product suite won't offer comprehensive social-media-management tools like a Buddy Media, a Syncapse or a Vitrue, and doesn't include a social-media ad-management platform. Mr. LeBrun noted that the products are more focused on the applications of social-media listening than those giants in the social-media-management space.

Salesforce.com offers its enterprise solutions on a subscription basis, with all packages individually priced depending on what the client wants. Founded in 1999, the company reported record quarterly revenue of $546 million this August.

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