Hot on the heels of Oracle’s gob-smacking purchase of Virtue, a social marketing platform, Salesforce have shelled out $689 million on Buddy Media, one of the leading social media engagement platforms which is best known for it’s Facebook management features.
So what does this mean for us?
Michael Lazerow, the founder of Buddy Media, put it quite succinctly: “The idea behind the deal is simple. By combining Buddy Media with the rest of salesforce.com’s products, including Salesforce Radian6, the leading social media listening platform, we will be able to deliver the first comprehensive Marketing Cloud that will allow customers to listen, engage, gain insight, publish, advertise and measure social marketing programs.”
He is (understandably) a little effusive, but dead right: the true value of social media for business lies in connecting the social customer with the right person in your business to help them, in the simplest way possible and in near real-time. Any company the delivers that is onto a massive winner.
But delivering genuinely social CRM requires certain key elements to be in place: your senior execs need to understand the value of social media and integrate it into your strategy; your staff need to be culturally open to social media, and adept at using it; your departments need to co-ordinate effectively to ensure information isn’t silo’d; you need to be able to capture and interpret social media conversations and be able to identify who’s speaking; and, critically, you need to enable data to flow freely betwee your CRM systems and the social web.
Until now, mapping data from social into your CRM systems just hasn’t been possible, and no single platform has been able to offer end-to-end listening, engagement and CRM in a way that makes sense to all parts of an organisation. This is the end goal for every social CRM company – and with their recent acquisitions – Oracle and Salesforce have both moved a step closer to achieving it.
If you are scratching your head trying to connect the social CRM dots, you’d be foolish not to look at platforms that are getting close to solving the puzzle. It remains to be seen how these popular social tools integrate into the existing Salesforce and Oracle suites – and I still don’t expect a polished product for years – but genuinely social CRM is, perhaps, no longer a pipe dream.
Update: Not to be out-done, I’ve just seen that Oracle have also bought Collective Intellect, a social media monitoring platform, for an undisclosed fee.