Radian6’s Social 2011 user conference opened in Boston shortly after news of the Salesforce acquisition broke. Though many were curious to hear what Radian6 had to say about the Salesforce acquisition, CEO Marcel LeBrun said the companies would speak more about their plans together at Salesforce’s Dreamforce 2011 user conference in San Francisco August 30–September 2.
LeBrun instead used his conference opening address to describe how marketing has changed—thanks to social media—from traditional “interruption-based messaging” to more “interaction-based messaging” geared toward engaging with customers, rather than bombarding them.
LeBrun stressed the need for brands to not only listen to their customers through these new channels, but also to leverage that information to advance business objectives. He emphasized the growing importance of cloud computing in a mobile and digital world.
LeBrun pointed to a picture on the screen of a young woman smiling into her phone, her expression hinting at a message or a tweet that had just been received. LeBrun told the audience that he often sees this expression on the face of his young daughter, indicative of the changes in customer behavior and the increasing influence of the cloud on everyday life. “Life is happening in that device. Life is happening in the cloud,” he said.
This observation was echoed by Adam Brown, the executive director of social media at Dell. “Social doesn’t live at your desk,” says Brown, who notes that Dell currently oversees 25,000 conversations in 12 languages via social media every day.
“Authenticity is so critical here,” he added. “We need to be genuine. Employees need to be genuine as well with cus-
Though it’s still too early to know Salesforce’s plans for the Radian6 portfolio, Radian6 made three product announcements at the user conference: Radian6 Insights, Summary Dashboard, and Radian6 Mobile. The stated goal of those products is to provide more context and meaning to social media data with text analytics, natural language processing, and semantic analysis.
“This is a next step in social,” says Denis Pombriant, founder of Beagle Research. “We are well on the way with things like sentiment analysis and broadcasting messages, but with semantic analysis, which we’ve been chasing for at least a decade, the ability to read and understand a customer’s ideas is a big step forward.
“Everybody is trying to get to mobile in part because there are so many devices that need these applications,” Pombriant observes. “Mobile will be [more necessary] as people spend more time out of the office, trying to reduce back-and-forth travel as the cost of travel escalates. In this environment, mobile becomes very important.”
Pombriant had his own thoughts on where Salesforce and Radian6 are headed. Salesforce, he says, is “smart” about adopting social ideas, explaining that the company has been careful to embed social media rather than simply layer it on. “Often in the early stages of a lifecycle, the first thing you see is layering, but layering never works very well,” he explains. “Salesforce has skipped the layering stage and gone to embedding. They’ve taken key concepts, like the wisdom of crowds, and embedded the idea appropriately in the service cloud and sales cloud—very different products but each very social.”
Pombriant repeats the assertion made by Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, that the acquisition of Radian6 is the beginning of the “marketing cloud.” Pombriant notes that marketing as a department has functioned independently for a while, partly because it is such “a manual and creative process.”
“Salesforce is in the vanguard of making the quantitative side of marketing work well with the more qualitative and creative aspects,” he notes.