Insights: Another step forward for Radian6 and social media measurement

Radian6 followed up last week’s announcement of its acquisition by Salesforce with a big product announcement at the Social2011 conference today – the introduction of its Insights platform.

Yes, you read that right. Radian6 is fashioning its newest product as a platform. In doing so, it is eschewing the temptation to try to develop its own proprietary best solution. Instead, Radian6 Insights users will be able to integrate into Radian6 data from measurement apps that they judge are the best and are already using. This is a bold solution. One that I haven’t seen before in the social media measurement space.

In doing this, the folks at Radian6 are acknowledging that, as good as they are and as rapidly as they’ve grown, there are other smart people working on their own innovations. By partnering and integrating with these other innovative services, Radian6 can accelerate its own innovation and grow much more rapidly than it could if it tried to develop its own proprietary solution.

Initially, they are launching with partners that include Klout, OpenAmplify and OpenCalais. And they promise other partners soon.

One more reason I like this. Not only does it promise to add something totally new to the social media analytics mix, but it also signals that Marcel LeBrun and the Radian6 team aren’t folding up their tents and disappearing inside Salesforce. They’re keeping the company intact and continuing to innovate on what they’ve already built.

What’s next?

When he announced Radian6 Insights this morning, LeBrun also indicated that we should expect announcements about the integration of Radian6 with Salesforce at the Dreamforce conference in August. As I said in my post about the acquisition of Radian6 by Salesforce, I’m hoping for big things from that announcement.

 

Finally, a means of measuring the ROI of social media?

It’s about more than valuation

The big news this past week was the announcement that Salesforce.com would pay $323 million to acquire social media analytics company Radian6. The size of the valuation makes this an acquisition to watch. But what’s even more interesting is the potential it holds to trigger a great leap forward in the evolution of social media monitoring and analysis services.

A fork in the road

As a longtime user of social media monitoring services (Thornley Fallis currently uses Radian6, Sysomos and PostRank), I watched as the companies appeared to take divergent paths.

Sysomos has pushed its analytic tools (including a great keyword mapping tool), appealing to the data miners in our company. At the same time, it used its blog to highlight the insights that could be surfaced through its database.

PostRank has followed a similar path, but with the addition of some nifty APIs that enable other organizations to link directly to its database and build its algorithms into their applications. Both Sysomos and PostRank have placed emphasis is on the data, the database and the analysis. And in doing this, they have gained a loyal user base among social media professionals and analysts.

Radian6 seemed to follow a different path. The first indication of this was the introduction of its Engagement Console about 18 months ago. At that time, Radian6 seemed to shift its focus away from the core analytics tools toward providing tools to enable large organizations to manage their social media interactions.

In this way, I think Radian6 targeted the enterprise. And that brings them into Salesforce’s sweet spot.

Corporations like Dell have pointed to the challenge of scaling social media that stops many enterprises from using it effectively. Radian6 – and most other social media monitoring solutions have focused on providing community managers with tools to identify and manage the most important conversations in social media.

Until now.

Now, the Salesforce – Radian6 deal offers the promise of something truly different – an effective means of measuring the ROI of social media. Through the merger of Radian6 and Salesforce, I think they have the essential building blocks of an end to end service that will enable us to track our social media outreach and connect it to the sales funnel. If it is integrated this way, marketing and sales departments finally will be able to identify which social media activities lead to revenue – and to measure the return on their investment in social media activities. If Salesforce and Radian6 can pull this off, it may well yield a handsome return on the $1/3 billion investment Salesforce just paid for Radian6.

I’m cheering for them to make this work. If they do, a new standard in social media monitoring and measurement will be established and we’ll all benefit from it.

This is bound to be discussed at Social2011

I’ll have a chance to explore this when I participate in a panel on Friday at Social2011, Radian6′s user conference. I’ll be on panel titled “Can you define the ROI of social media?” with some people who know measurement – Katie Paine, Marshall Sponder and Ken Burbary. I’ll be sure to ask them what they think the implications are of the Salesforce-Radian6 deal. And you can be sure I’ll tweet the discussion. (Follow the hashtag #social2011.)

Gini Dietrich and Martin Waxman have views about this too?

Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and I talk about the Salesforce-Radian6 dealon Inside PR episode 248.