Public Relations Agency of the Year 2016 (Bronze)

Leading Southeast Asia Campaign 2015 (Gold)

2015 Marketing Interactive PR Gold Award

2012: The year marketers crashed the Dreamforce party

25th Sep 2012 | Credits to Brooke Hovey

Last week, I attended the annual Salesforce conference, Dreamforce, for the first time. As I walked amongst the 86,000+ blue badge-holders in and around San Francisco’s Moscone Center, I was delighted to see many familiar faces – marketers like me, who were all first-timers as well. While the event is dubbed the “Cloud Computing Event of the Year,” it was the central theme, “Touch the Social Enterprise,” and the unveiling of the company’s much-anticipated Marketing Cloud and Social Hub that drew me and my fellow marketers in. For those of us not fully awake at the opening keynote, MC Hammer’s live performance of “2 Legit 2 Quit” – adapted to tout the new features of Salesforce – signaled the start of an eventful week.

Rather than try to recap all of the news coming out of Dreamforce, I summarized a few key trends and insights that caught my attention:

End of the Social Media Ownership Debate

Ironically, I was invited to speak on a Dreamforce panel to answer the question, “Who Owns Social?” While I can passionately advocate for the unique expertise PR/communications professionals bring to social media strategy (strength in brand storytelling, heritage in earned engagement, trust and credibility), the truth is – NO ONE OWNS SOCIAL. It's transforming every part of the enterprise (marketing, sales, CRM, service, product development, HR), and collaboration and integration are the keys to success. That was the conclusion of our panel and a theme that was also emphasized during Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s keynote address, “Business is Social.” I discussed this idea further with Radian6’s Marcel LeBrun, who offered a great analogy. He said, “Social is a channel for communications, like the telephone. No one asks which department owns the telephone. They all use it, only in different ways.” Building on Marcel’s analogy, I’d suggest an important nuance: If all departments are engaging with consumers on the same open conference call, they should be coordinating!

Promise of “Insight Into Actions, Connections into Customers for Life”

This is the promise of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, the unified social marketing solution built through the company’s acquisition of Radian6, a leader in social listening, and Buddy Media, a leader in social marketing. The solution offers six key capabilities:

      Social Listening
      Social Content Publishing
      Social Engagement
      Social Ad Placement & Optimization
      Cross-Channel Measurement
      Workflow & Automation

Given that Salesforce closed the Buddy Media deal just over one month ago, their accomplishments to date are impressive, but I’d still characterize what I saw as the “beginning” – not yet a seamless integration of user experience, but well on its way. It’s a union that offers great promise to marketers – particularly at large enterprises – and I’m excited to see what’s to come.

Watch Salesforce Marketing Cloud Demo.

Rise of Social Media “Command Centers”

Whether you call it a “Command Center” or a “Nerve Center," social hubs are popping up in large enterprises everywhere. Their purpose is to centralize social media listening, analysis and routing of insights/issues for action by various business units. And they’re more and more visible. Beyond establishing the processes and technology, many companies (e.g., Dell, 3M) are creating physical environments to brand these efforts and visualize the data – helping employees feel what it means to bring the voice of the customer inside of the enterprise.

Check out the Dreamforce Social Media Command Center as an example:

Quest for Social Media Engagement at Scale

While marketers are investing in social media, many still struggle with issues of scale and ROI. It’s easy to understand the inherent challenge: Scale requires some degree of automation, which is difficult in a channel that demands personal, human interaction. Salesforce is attempting to address this through Radian6’s Social Hub, described as “the first process automation engine for your Socially Connected Enterprise.” Essentially, it lets you apply sophisticated analysis and rules to organize conversations, add social insights to customer profiles and share insights across marketing, sales and service teams. For example, you can create a rule that automatically builds a database of customers who comment positively about a product – a database of advocates who can be tapped for a future marketing campaign. Alternatively, you can automate Salesforce Case creation and association with customer records to speed the resolution of service issues. In both cases, you can still engage these people individually, but the automation in the background supports efficiency and scale.

Maturity from Theory to Methodology to Technology

From a broader perspective, it’s interesting to observe a shift in conversations happening inside large enterprises. When we started crafting social media strategies for brands six years ago, our discussions often focused on THEORY – led by change agents who recognized a shift in the media landscape and a new way to communicate directly with audiences. Soon after, we found ourselves talking more about METHODOLOGY, as proven frameworks and approaches helped to secure buy-in and enable successful activation. Today, there’s a new item on the agenda: TECHNOLOGY. While theory and methodology are still important, technology is critical to enabling social marketing at scale and, more importantly, the full realization of the social enterprise.

Did anyone else attend the conference or follow the news? I’d love to hear your impressions.

If you weren’t able to attend the conference this year, you can view the keynotes and sessions on the Dreamforce YouTube Channel.