Government // Enterprise Architecture
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12/20/2011
06:59 PM
David F Carr
David F Carr
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Radian6 Chief: Ignoring Social Could Bring 'CEO Spring'

Companies must embrace enterprise social media in 2012 or be overrun by it, says Marcel LeBrun.

In 2011, the wave of interest in social business swept Marcel LeBrun's Radian6 into the arms of Salesforce.com. In 2012, he believes a bigger crest will sweep the business world, leaving behind those who are unprepared.

This was the year of the Arab Spring, when communication through Twitter helped organize the overthrow of entrenched and oppressive regimes in Egypt and Tunisia. In 2012, organizations that don't embrace social media disruption will find themselves getting overrun by it, LeBrun said. "You're going to have a CEO Spring if the CEO says, 'We're going to stick with command-and-control, and we really don't want employees using social,' " he said.

Formerly CEO of Radian6, LeBrun is now its general manager and a senior vice president at Salesforce.com. Since Salesforce.com acquired Radian6 this spring, the cloud services company has kept stepping up its focus on incorporating social media into business, aggressively promoting Chatter, its enterprise social networking product, and recently acquiring Rypple for social performance management and employee recognition.

LeBrun said Radian6 has continued to build an independent brand for social media monitoring and engagement, although it also contributes to broader social software initiatives at Salesforce. "We're doing a lot more of the same things we were doing, but we're also doing a lot more [different] things," he said.

[ For ways to stay on top of trends, see 10 Cool Social Media Monitoring Tools. ]

Radian6 continues to be best known as a tool for monitoring and analyzing social media feeds, although it also provides tools for engaging customers and prospects on the social web--for example, by replying to questions and complaints. Radian6 now offers integration with the Salesforce Service Cloud, allowing customer service agents to monitor and respond to social media communications through the same user interface they employ for other kinds of interactions. LeBrun said Radian6 also is exploring ways that its monitoring and analytics could enhance the Chatter experience.

Salesforce recognized how important social media was becoming, LeBrun said, and the rest of the business world is going to come to that realization in the coming year.

Although some companies might be brave and others cautious, almost every company will have some form of enterprise social networking by the end of 2012, LeBrun predicted. Meanwhile, the kind of monitoring and management of external social media that Radian6 offers is going to grow more integral to business operations, he said. "We're going to see a shift to thinking, 'how does this now transform my company,' 'how do I tie this in with business processes at my company'--as opposed to 'we have this little team we have set up' and letting them handle it."

Dell is an example of a company that went from having a small team of social media specialists--about 20 people--to having a much broader group of employees, including those associated with specific business functions, managing parts of the social media conversation, and helping address the tremendous volume of relevant comments, LeBrun said. "The question now is how do we get the voice of the customer to every employee and teach them how to engage in social and understand it, encouraging them to talk to customers and to listen," he said.

In the process, there are questions of style, LeBrun said. "You have to figure out how you want your brand to engage. Is my brand funny and friendly and warm to everyone? Or do I want to project thought leadership, but not engage. You look at a company like Apple, and they don't necessarily talk to individual customers a lot, they talk about ideas. Dell really does want to talk to individual customers, and they've had to figure out how to staff it and put the right technology in place."

Each company has to figure out how social media applies to its business, and the answer will be different for consumer brands seeking to take the pulse of a customer base numbering in the millions, as opposed to business-to-business firms seeking to build deep relationships with a smaller number of customers. Companies in regulated industries might have to pass communications through more layers of approvals and address concerns such as archiving, but they won't simply be able to ignore the need to engage in social media.

As shown by the Twitter-powered political revolutions, power is shifting to the masses--and businesses need to understand the same thing is happening in their world, LeBrun said. Old patterns of customer interaction, such as making people wait on hold, aren't going to be acceptable in the new business reality, he said. "Businesses need to line up for customers, rather than expecting customers to line up for business."

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard

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SBHATTI200
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SBHATTI200,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/6/2012 | 7:10:05 AM
re: Radian6 Chief: Ignoring Social Could Bring 'CEO Spring'
To be Social, you have to become social. If you're unsociable by nature then what chances are there you'll be "posting" anything for anyone else's benefit? Social cannot be a company policy it must be a movement activated at whatever level that doesn't matter. You can't mandate Social. You can encourage sharing, more open communications and facilitate with workshops to ease people into the brave new world but you can't force it. The companies that will embrace social and thrive are the ones that are already cool places to work today and you know if you work in such an environment or not don't you?
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/30/2011 | 9:50:39 PM
re: Radian6 Chief: Ignoring Social Could Bring 'CEO Spring'
I can see what you are saying, but I have seen some really compelling applications of social networking in the corporate environment. If enterprise social networking tools are being used to post gossip and personal photos, then, no, they will not help the business. I think it's like corporate email--in my experience, people who email non-work-related content tend to get cut off at the knees pretty quickly (especially if they are doing lots of replying to all). I think that with enterprise social networking platforms--if they are implemented with clear purpose and measurable business goals--people who misuse them will be put in their places right away.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
YMOM100
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YMOM100,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/23/2011 | 12:11:09 PM
re: Radian6 Chief: Ignoring Social Could Bring 'CEO Spring'
Name it what you want, embracing social and making everyone post everything to a SharePoint site will not fix your management problems. At my work I constantly get pestered to post my latest gossip and pictures on a company wide social side, so much so that I added a local filter that deletes these messages right away. That site only includes bad mug shots and stuff about people that nobody should know about them. But sure, it makes people feel nice, when there is a company endorsed way to waste a lot of time. And at the same time IT is trying to one up the few that circumvent the latest Facebook filter.
Rather than embracing social, cut work hours, increase salaries, and add a few weeks vacation time so that your employees have time to be more social...I mean the real social, where you go outside and talk to real people.
Barry Graham
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Barry Graham,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/22/2011 | 8:45:13 PM
re: Radian6 Chief: Ignoring Social Could Bring 'CEO Spring'
Do people really think that overthrowing a despot over there is going to lead to lead to Western style democracy? The only successful revolution I can think of happened in 1776 and that was only because the British were never really in charge!
Barry Graham
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Barry Graham,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/22/2011 | 8:33:08 PM
re: Radian6 Chief: Ignoring Social Could Bring 'CEO Spring'
The Arab Spring eventually led to the Arab Winter with the people realizing they were better off with the old hated leaders.
Jfez
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Jfez,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/22/2011 | 3:58:19 PM
re: Radian6 Chief: Ignoring Social Could Bring 'CEO Spring'
Gă If you donGăÍt seize the social media leadership opportunity, someone else willGăÍ http://ow.ly/87Pga
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/22/2011 | 11:11:14 AM
re: Radian6 Chief: Ignoring Social Could Bring 'CEO Spring'
"CEO spring" is a pretty strong metaphor, but I agree that to ignore social and/or try to block it will backfire.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
MLEBRUNE3C
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MLEBRUNE3C,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/21/2011 | 3:28:00 PM
re: Radian6 Chief: Ignoring Social Could Bring 'CEO Spring'
2012 will be a year full of amazing developments in social. Great article! It was a pleasure to speak with you David. Happy holidays to you.
Cheers,
Marcel
Salesforce Radian6
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