Today, salesforce.com announced the intent to acquire Radian6, a leader in the social media monitoring space. You can find the details of the definitive agreement here. What I want to focus on is what this acquisition means to customer service.
First, the social listening vendor landscape is crowded and ripe for consolidation. Salesforce.com has just picked off the best vendor in this category of vendors, according to a recent Forrester Wave™ report. Radian6 helps salesforce.com extend its core customer service capabilities to the social channels like Facebook and Twitter, which are becoming increasingly important for companies looking to offer a differentiated customer service experience. This is not the first acquisition of this type; however, it is the most significant one, based on salesforce.com's market share and customer base. Expect to see similar acquisitions by CRM and customer service vendors in the future.
Cloud computing and CRM giant salesforce.com has acquired Radian6 to add real social media monitoring and engagement to its suite of clouds, in a deal valued at $326 million. Why do I say "real"? Salesforce.com has been talking about social CRM and the importance of feeding social media mentions into sales and service processes for quite some time, but this acquisition will let salesforce.com deliver on that vision in a much bigger way.
I wrote about social listening platforms in my February report on "Emerging Technologies B2B CMOs Should Watch In 2011." CMOs should take notice of this acquisition because it represents the first foray for salesforce.com into capabilities that CMOs at large enterprises should care about, and since salesforce.com is aggressively trying to increase its penetration in the large-enterprise market, it could be followed by other additions to form the strikingly missing marketing cloud, namely marketing automation to support lead nurturing and closed-loop marketing. Salesforce.com will also likely take Radian6, or a version it ports to the Force.com platform, to its bread-and-butter midmarket, making social listening a bigger part of the marketing strategy for smaller and midsize firms, as it should be.
Here are a few valuable use cases that will result from this marriage that can improve sales and marketing effectiveness and/or the customer experience your firm delivers:
Find more leads. Marketers can listen for buying signals in the postings and discussions on social sites, blogs, and communities and use these signals to identify new warm leads to add to the system and start marketing to these people.
Ironically, while the CRM pundit hysteria about “social CRM” seems to be abating a little bit, many concrete use-cases are emerging that demonstrate the business value of the social web phenomenon. I just published a new report that defines the key characteristics of social CRM and provides examples of how Social Computing technologies expand the possibilities for delivering customer and company value through the key business processes of targeting, acquisition, retention, understanding, and collaboration. Forrester's annual Groundswell Awards provide over 130 examples of how organizations use Social Computing to engage and collaborate with customers in new ways.
Here are some highlights:
Customer targeting. Social media channels such as Twitter and YouTube and communities such as Facebook and Groupon offer new ways to communicate with customers through an Internet community context. And we now see the rising use of community-based market research techniques. For example, Godiva Chocolatier created a private, invitation-only community so Godiva could better understand its chocolate consumers. The community led Godiva to create an affordable product line, individually wrapped chocolates called Gems, and sell them in a new channel — grocery and drug stores. Gems was the biggest global launch ever for Godiva, ringing up $35 million in its first year.