Salesforce.com released Tuesday the Radian6 + Buddy Media Social Studio, indicating new life for a string of social acquisitions the company has made in recent years.
“For the first time, you can listen, publish content, and track it through to results all as part of a stack that also includes email, Web, and mobile,” said Salesforce.com ExactTarget Marketing Cloud CMO Mike Lazerow.
Radian6, Buddy Media and marketing automation company ExactTarget constitute the Salesforce.com ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. While Salesforce.com went to market with this solution as a consolidated stack, industry insiders suggested silos still existed between the products.
It seems Social Studio is attempting to address this issue – at least when it comes to content marketing. With the announcement, Salesforce.com said existing users of both Radian6 and Buddy Media point solutions have access to a single, unified product that combines a social listening and publishing platform with third-party partner APIs.
Social Studio has four parts that include: collaborative listening tools for teams built on Radian6; a module to plan, source and publish brand-safe content; tools designed to scale content and maximize consumer engagement; and reporting and analytics.
The company also ushered seven vendors into the Radian6 Buddy Media Social Studio Partner Program, which includes such content discovery and marketing tools as Kontera, Nexgate, Pressly, Rallyverse, Shutterstock, Getty Images, ShopIgniter and Trendspottr.
“I hear, time and time again, that it’s hard to unify data to spin off this ‘real-time content marketing’ strategy because, on average, [customers] had 10 different publishing tools and five listening tools,” said Lazerow. “Right now, [a lot of work] is still being done in Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. Guilty as charged. Before we launched this, we were guilty of doing that ourselves.”
In addition to solving disjointed workflow challenges, Salesforce.com has had to grapple with the rapidly shifting social media space due to the growing importance of paid media on Facebook and Twitter, at the expense of organic reach. Salesforce.com, however, thinks it’s well-prepared to move quickly due to its legacy as a SaaS provider.
“You have large companies that are cobbling together acquisitions, some of whom are paying on-premise customers to move to the cloud, which is a lot of effort,” Lazerow said.
Lazerow did not explicitly state which “large companies” he’s referring to, however it’s notable that Oracle, another marketing cloud provider, historically deployed its solution on-premise and has itself been on an acquisitions warpath in recent months.
Though various marketing cloud providers each claim a well-integrated product, challenges remain for the major players. These include Salesforce.com, Oracle (which is in the process of integrating Responsys and will soon have to integrate BlueKai, once that deal closes) and Adobe (which is working to integrate the campaign management solution it inherited from Neolane).
Though Social Studio is focused on content marketing, Marcel LeBrun, former Radian6 CEO and and current SVP and chief product officer for the Salesforce.com ExactTarget Marketing Cloud insists there’s a media buying angle as well. In tying together various social listening widgets, he said, clients can identify the trends that influence a social ad buy; integration with Salesforce.com's social ad-buying platform Social.com will occur in the coming months.
“Going from the listening world to the paid world is really powerful now, especially with what Facebook has done to move beyond its own walls with identity (Anonymous Log-in),” he said.
In assembling their marketing clouds, enterprise tech companies have generally tackled the "owned and earned" before "paid" media. But, this is changing as the cloud marketing stacks like Oracle (with its launch of a paid social API partner program) and Salesforce.com (with Social.com and Omnicom Group agency roll-outs) begin to address the media buy.
But it’s the point solution providers that could find themselves most under the gun, said Peter Kim chief strategy officer and principal analyst at Constellation Research.
“Vendors who need to move quickly are those that are only focused on social media, even worse if they only cover a niche function like listening or publishing,” said Kim. Regardless of whether a point solution focuses on paid, earned or owned media, some point solutions could ultimately face the same fate as Argyle Social, which recently shuttered, if they fail to differentiate or keep up with cloud competitors.