Radian6, Salesforce and Social CRM

OK – We are a bit late to the party with this one, but I wanted to put down a few thoughts on the recent acquisition of the social media monitoring market leader, Radian6 by Salesforce. The details on the acquisition have been well covered (check here and here) and while it is another high profile development in the monitoring space, it also has implications for the development of the social CRM market.

monitoring conversations social mediaThe social media monitoring market exploded from almost nothing 2 years ago to the magnitude of tools that are now at business and individuals’ disposal to ‘listen’ to the social web and gain better insights into what is being said in social media. We have already seen a number of acquisitions in the past year such as Lithium and ScoutLabs and Attensity and Biz360. With this market thriving, and business increasingly understanding that there is valuable information being shared around social networks, forums, blogs and other social channels, the race has begun to add layers on top of the listening software and move towards an all-encompassing system which allows business to Listen, Engage and then feed all the relevant data into a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.  The ultimate goal seems to be to create a social CRM system that will lead the business to become truly Social Businesses rather than merely social media marketers.

What is Social CRM?

We have written about this a few months ago and you can find much smarter people talking about it here and here. Very few businesses are deploying social CRM yet and there seem to be two main reasons for this.

1. There isn’t (or wasn’t) an end-to-end software solution.

The Salesforce / Radian6 hook-up is a major stake in the ground as far as this is concerned. While there are other Social CRM providers like Oracle, SAP and community platforms like Lithium, there are few that provide enterprise quality monitoring, social media management/engagement and CRM. I’d expect that to change in the next 12 months! However, you could argue that some businesses have achieved a social CRM output without the use of a CRM system (Dell and Starbucks are two examples)…so I don’t think the software is the real barrier.

2. Most businesses aren’t social yet.

This one will take a lot harder to permeate through the business world. The software will be there soon, but many businesses will have to overhaul decades of corporate culture that goes against the social business grain. Few companies (especially the big boys) are structured so multiple departments have contact with the customer and it is going to be a long road to get everyone in a company, top-down, to actually care about this…and run programs which will prove the benefit of it.

The thousands of new social channels mean customers’ activity, details and attention has fragmented to a different level and we are starting to see how companies who genuinely want to build closer, lasting relationships with their customers can start to reel it back in. For example:

  • Monitoring the social web for the right conversations, finding the people and the communities which are relevant to the business or market
  • By using existing customers social media profiles and accounts to offer a more personalized and often more effective way to communicate with them
  • By learning more about them by archiving likes, dislikes, conversations into one platform so these can be drawn upon later
  • Tracking the customer journey all the way through to the sale and repeat sales
  • By using data, insights and social technology to collaborate and innovate with customers to improve products and services – This is where the true value lies and has actually been done without the need for a CRM system (Dell, Starbucks)

Understanding the Customer

There is a myth perpetuated by some (social media gurus and ninjas) that customers want to have a ‘relationship’ with brands in social media. That they want to be their friends, chat with them on a regular basis and generally feel closer to the company that makes their brand of toothpaste. What they want from a brand is value – either transactional or functional. Sometimes that is in the form of offers and promotions but is also in areas such as product information customer service. A recent IBM report looks at this in more detail, check out the two images below…However, what they do want is relationships with PEOPLE and the people who work for the brands. This is especially true in a B2B environment.

Social CRM toolsSocial CRM tools

SocialCRM if implemented from a business perspective as well as a technology one will make that easier and show companies the path they need to take to get there. Whether they follow it or not is up to them!

By the way – there is a good group full of the Social CRM gurus (I’m sure none of them will thank me for labeling them that!) if you want to stay plugged in to the latest news and views.

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