The solution matches key words attached to the company's message with all of the users' Facebook friends, and suggests that they spread the referral to those friends. If the friends accept the referral, that information is logged on the Solution's Salesforce.com back end. (To protect privacy, no information is stored unless the friend accepts the referral.) User companies build and manage their Referral activities in Facebook.
The Referral Management Solution expands on the free [email protected] Facebook app that Appirio launched late last year. With a starting price of $25,000 for the core engine, and additional charges based on the size of the network and the number of referrals, the Referral Solution was designed specifically for mid-to-large size companies, but according to Ryan Nichols, Appirio's VP of product management and marketing, it can make sense even companies as small as 100-employees if they are actively hiring, for example. And Nichols points out that even companies who don't use Salesforce can use the Solution by simply establishing a one-person Salesforce account.
Initial users include Starbucks, Fitness Anywhere, and ThomasNet.