Salesforce & the Social Marketing Cloud: Round 1 Goes to...

Don't get me wrong. I love Radian6. I truly do. Now that it it is an extended platform with its incorporation of the superbly conceived and executed "Insights" addition (kudos to Ryan Strynatka), it is easily the social media platform to beat (not the community platform).

Don't get me wrong. I love Radian6. I truly do. Now that it it is an extended platform with its incorporation of the superbly conceived and executed "Insights" addition (kudos to Ryan Strynatka), it is easily the social media platform to beat (not the community platform). There is no better and, to my mind, this is the most game-changing acquisition that salesforce.com ever made. Bar none. Sorry Heroku, Jigsaw, etc. But it is.

That said, reading and hearing the announcement of Radian 6 as the "social marketing cloud" makes me queasy. First, because it isn't. Second, because salesforce is underestimating the value or at least apparently underestimating the value of the Radian6 platform to its entire product suite and platform. No disrespect intended, but this is a vast under utilization and a frankly poor positioning job by whoever came up with the idea of calling this a social marketing suite. Though, I have to at least be fair and say that Marc Benioff did speak of this as the "beginning of the social marketing cloud."

As anyone who has read me knows, I've repeatedly said Radian6 is not the marketing cloud. Just adding the word "social" in front of it, doesn't make it one, either. And I honestly don't think this brings enough to the game to be even the beginning. Maybe an alpha of a "social marketing cloud" with a small percentage of what should be in it? Sigh.

What do I mean? Let's bring it.

What it is claiming to have (I'm sure it does. I just haven't seen it so I'm going on what was announced, not what I've observed):

  1. Social  Monitoring - This is the Radian6 core. It has been expanded to over 150 million sources and now is available in 17 languages, now that they've added Turkish and Polish. There is no question of the crown jewel quality of this component.
  2. Social Insight - This is the extensions to their platform. I love this part of what they've done. This allows them to add the power of other applications like Open Calais, Klout, and OpenAmplify. The one concern I have here is the real dearth of partners they have for the Insight Platform. Too much in the works, not enough delivered. The value as it stands is excellent for what they offer, but they are not offering nearly enough extension services. But the platform has massive potential. You can pick and choose which features of each partner application that you want to use and even combine them piecemeal - providing you're paying for the services of course. Big kudos to Bryan Jennewein who is the product manager for the Insights Platform here.
  3. Social Engagement - You now are able to engage with customers directly from the console to the social network (e.g. Facebook. Twitter) that they are communicating in.  Meaning you see a tweet surfaced that you need to answer, you don't have to go anywhere else, just answer it from where you are seeing it.  Good, but it is so 2010.  Treat this as a welcome addition to the platform, but just table stakes in the social CRM and social enterprise world.
  4. Social Hub - This is workflow and business rules and processes and graphical workflow design and FINALLY! I have been on their case for nearly 4 years about providing exactly this. If you want to play at the enterprise level with high volume interactions, then this is a necessity. They have now done this, at least announced it, immensely strengthening their platform. This gets them membership in the club that they need to be in for the social enterprise strategy of salesforce to succeed.  Or at least the Radian6 part of it.  Call it a social hub, call in process automation, call it whatever. I call it necessary and I'm really glad that this is now a reality.
  5. Social WebsitesSiteforce, the brainchild and baby of the terrific Anshu Sharma, and a fellow member of the Enterprise Irregulars, is a well-designed Content Management System and website design platform that is, of course, built on Force.com.  It is in the vein of an enterprise worthy Joomla! or Drupal. Not the same as but in the realm of.

There is no question in my mind of the power of each and all of these components. As additions to the salesforce arsenal, there is no doubt as to the benefit.

But....

That doesn't make this a social marketing cloud or a marketing ANYTHING.

Marketing technology has some historic definition built around it. There are facets of it that involve not just monitoring and analytics but management and operations. Some is highly sophisticated and deep on the operations side - so you'll see products like SAS's MOM (Marketing Operations Management), which is SAS's evolution of their acquisition of AssetLink. Some of it is strong around customer engagement - take a look at Infor's Epiphany CRM product line, especially the enterprise interaction engine for that. In the social marketing world - a nascent world at the moment, Crowd Factory is setting the standard for now. That includes aspects around gamification (in the form of contests etc), video sharing, campaigns tied to external social networks like Twitter and Facebook, brand monitoring (which the Social Marketing Cloud a.k.a. Radian6  has); and could include more advanced features like influencer identification and marketing; and Facebook campaign analytics.

The problem with the social marketing cloud is that it lacks even some of the basic operational and traditional marketing functionality like campaign management in rudimentary forms.  It lacks some of the more obvious traditional capabilities that would tie in nicely with Sales Cloud 2 like lead scoring and lead nurturing. It lacks resource management functionality.  It lacks a lot of the features of the deep social marketing applications like the gamification components. It lacks, it lacks, it lacks.....  Meaning that it doesn't have what you would expect of any marketing application or service, "cloud" or not, that calls itself one.

Again, I want to make something clear. I am not at all debating the quality of what is being provided. But what is being provided is a better more extensible, even greater industrial-strength Radian6 product - one that can do salesforce.com proud.

Salesforce.com can call what they own whatever they want - obviously. They can ignore every word I say which wouldn't be the first time a company did that. I won't be hurt.  However, I truly wish that they'd incorporate what they need for the marketing folks out there. If they did, marketers will have the opportunity to buy into the salesforce.com vision of a social enterprise and the "suite" of services that salesforce provides. They might even be responsive to it for one simple reason. Salesforce would be giving those marketing people what they need to do their jobs - in a new world that they are not totally comfortable with. And, when it boils down to it, self-interest rules - even marketers. But like all human beings, to understand why they should purchase and use something they need to have a context to understand it in.  Maybe what I see salesforce offering right now is some components which, when pieced together equal brand management and even some brand engagement. But marketing? Wrong components and wrong context.  While the currently provided "social marketing cloud" could supplement and support marketing technology solutions, It just isn't one unto itself.

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