Salesforce-Radian 6: social lead gen’s acquisition of social monitoring company Radian 6 isn’t that big of a surprise — although I had to think for a few minutes on why the poster child for cloud-delivered application services and sales management tools would acquire the Canadian monitoring service for $326 million.

The metrics and analytics space is crowded with social metrics vendors — most of which put pretty dashboards on top of gross census figures (how many followers, fans, likes, retweets, etc.) and data crawled by Google — who don’t bring a lot to the table in terms of precision and salient insights that a web metrics platform like Adobe’s Omniture has done in classic web site measurement. The fact that Adobe didn’t grab Radian 6 (or any of the other players that are crowding for attention) is not surprising — but why would Salesforce take on social? For the cachet? To get on the frothy bubble?

If Salesforce’s sweet spot is sales management then Radian 6 could be used for social lead generation — that detection-of-desire model I wrote about two years ago.

If the first phase of social monitoring was to prevent Dell Hell from happening, and the second phase was influencer identification, I think the third and most lucrative will be the detection and analysis of people in market for stuff and talking about their need for that stuff within their social graph. We messed around a little with this at Lenovo — looking at Twitter for indications such as “I need a PC” or “Should I buy a Mac or a ThinkPad” — and then tried to seal the deal with a one-off discount coupon to get the Tweeter into the e-commerce engine.

The problem with most social metrics is sentiment. The “red-yellow-green” type of analysis that a brand would use to see if people think positively or negatively about them or a specific issue or a specific product over time. Sentiment is the province of pollsters and professional surveyors — and any conceit that it can be automated is just that. A conceit.

But — if social analytics can provide attribution of an action — be it a news story, ad campaign, etc. — to a change in fundamental business results: sales, reduced costs, or improved customer loyalty, then bingo, it makes sense for a company focused on the provision of sales tools to acquire a company focused on pulse taking.

Here’s Nathan Gilliatt’s trenchant analysis of the announcement.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

4 thoughts on “Salesforce-Radian 6: social lead gen”

  1. Agree 100%. I wrote a mini state-of-the-union two years ago (which then was two years after leaving the the first big breakout service in social-media measurement). My summary still holds true today:
    1. Trouble connecting data to action.
    2. Product company attempts hold most reward, but that’s difficult and most revenues will come from related human services.
    3. Lots of UI attempts, but few really work.
    4. Greatest success will be through subtly integrating into myriad business and decision-making processes (i.e., lead-gen, customer service), not as a standalone winner-takes-all discipline.

  2. Actionable insights is the big thing every business wants. And thats where the value is. We see that from the trenches. It takes a while to go through the evolution process: data to insights and integration with biz processes.

    – Babar

  3. You are correct, there is a lot to digest regarding this move and signals a lot of opportunity in this space. We are eager to see what the future will deliver. Thank you for sharing the news!

    Lauren Vargas
    Director of Community at Radian6

  4. David:

    I don’t think this acquisition is about “detection of desire” I think it is about social CRM.

    I’m sure they are thinking about “detection of desire” but doing that is really, really hard, and they will end up putting the resources into social CRM integration instead.

    They will also use it for lead gen – but that is likely to be pretty clumsy (we saw you talking about rowing on Twitter and wondered if you would like to purchase an Erg . . .)

    I think the big news is about Salesforce gunning for a bigger share of the enterprise software pie by adding sexy CRM functionality.

    Actionable insights? I think that is quite a stretch (unless you think spotting a complaint is an insight).

    Tom O’Brien
    CMO – MotiveQuest LLC

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