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Alison Diana An Initial Look at Radian6

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By Blake Landau

Radian6 Has Promise But Needs to Address Customer Service

Radian6 was one of the early social vendors out the gate to provide business-class Web monitoring services for tracking what customers and potential customers are saying about brands and companies on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social media channels.

The vendor is arguably the most recognizable name in social media monitoring tools—possibly because they got there first. With some early wins and endorsements from influencers Radian6 picked up a lot of attention and positive buzz early on.

The company has a very likeable team, and a strong marketing and an impressive omnipresent social media taskforce. They're a social group that in many ways practices what they preach.

The company made its most significant announcement this year—its own sale to Salesforce.com for $326 million. Salesforce said the purchase was made to "bridge between public conversations and Chatter" and "enhance the Salesforce Sales and Service Cloud products with social intelligence that customers can act on." That agenda continues, but more recently at the Dreamforce 2011, it was disclosed by Marc Benioff that Radian6 and its founder were tasked with making Radian6 a key component in a future Marketing Cloud. Beyond the fit within Sales, Marketing and Service Clouds, "developers building on the Force.com platform also will be able to tap into the power of Radian6, putting the social web into everything they build."

The industry seemed to say, "yes that makes sense" after the announcement. And it did as noted by Mark Fidelman in his blog "Sorry Gartner, Here's the Real Magic Quadrant for SCRM." He names Salesforce.com as the true magic quadrant leader for companies of 1000 employees or more. Fidelman said, "Already a CRM leader, Salesforce.com has the most complete Social CRM offering. They are now faced with the daunting challenge of integrating Salesforce and Chatter with their recent acquisitions and socially enabling the overall solution."

So the acquisition by Salesforce could be the best thing to happen to Radian6, and a synergistic combination for Salesforce, but the company needs to continue their service to the brands who depend on them.

The social listening tool itself has many bells and whistles that are attractive to brands. They boast an impressive customer list, and from a marketing perspective, their community team is more omnipresent than any other vendor I've seen to date. They are doing a good job of walking the walk with regard to a strong, active and vocal community listening team.

But moving from listening to engagement is a chasm and a challenge for both Radian6 and their customers. Some say Radian6 is great for monitoring and listening, but lacks in the engagement area such as a "conversation tracker." For example, you have to create a custom search for every interaction with another user.

The company made some significant announcements this past spring including Radian6 Insights, and a new dashboard providing a way to slice and dice data and share it with others who might not be using Radian6 within the company.

The Insights strength lies in the partnerships with sites like Klout, OpenAmplify and OpenCalais. Additionally Salesforce has launched an iOS application for Radian6 so users can leverage a native app on on their iPhone or iPad for a strong user experience.

The tool has a lot of promise, particularly with the new Salesforce acquisition. However the product has some disgruntled prospects and customers—and pricing is a bit confusing. In fact, for prospects who choose not to go with Radian6, the number one reason appears to be a confusing and upwardly climbing pricing model.

The Radian6 pricing model is based on the number of seats/users, the number of topic profiles, the number of times your topics are mentioned during the month and the scope or number of software add-ons selected—such as dashboards or integration to Compete.com, Klout, Webtrends, Omniture, Google Analytics and even Salesforce.com.

The fees may quickly balloon when paying for each topic profile. This is not a secret. Across the web there are prospects exchanging stories about the escalating pricing issues. However the vendor has kept this model. It seemingly works for them despite the complaints of an online community suggesting otherwise.

For current and somewhat disgruntled Radian6 customers, a cited problem with the tool is the customer service reporting capability. One very large customer shared with me the tool is broken and inefficient. Particularly regarding the timing of data for the customer ticket and the reps timing on solving that issue. Granted this is only one company, but I was surprised that such a seemingly reputable vendor would treat a customer of this size in such a cavalier manner.

It was also surprising to know Radian6 was less than responsive when asked for not just customer support, but a face to face meeting to work out the issue. The meeting was declined by Radian6. This is not the only customer to be challenged by the product, but its unclear if this experience is a trend.

Radian6 since its inception in 2006, has created a world of success for themselves and many customers during a time when a lot of these social technologies were still experimental and unproven. At the same time the tool, like a lot of these tools, is not for everyone. It appears many buyers evaluate the tool without specific objectives or use cases—seemingly evaluating business solutions in absence of business problems—and then become enamored with capabilities they didn't know existed, may or may not actually need, and may or may not get initial or sustained use in their companies after purchase. The best feedback one can provide a prospect assessing a cloud monitoring tool is to evaluate the tool within the context of specific business objectives and pursuant to actual business use cases. Only when actual business opportunities are capitalized on, or business problems solved, will the tool achieve sustained adoption and deliver payback. End

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Comments (10) — Comments for this page are closed —

Guest Lisa Starks
  I incurred the same journey as the below post. Do we work at the same company? Just kidding. Keyword social monitoring is a stepping stone at best. But once you recognize customers don't speak in keywords, and do speak in idioms, phrases, social brevity and topic-based abbreviations, the keyword based social monitoring tools begin to break down. Equally important, if the tool cannot efficiently identify those social conversations of the highest importance and then flag, retrieve, annotate, assign (based on topics, attributes, context and sentiment), route, respond and monitor follow-through, you probably wont get any payback.

Guest socialspunge
  I was an early Radian 6 user but have since moved on to Awareness Networks social media tool. IMHO, Radian 6 was an early innovator but since the acquisition by salesforce.com has failed to keep up with the competitors. Radian 6 is strongest as a keyword listening tool. It's a good tool to get quick, high level snapshots of social conversations based on keywords, but has inherent limitations in making social conversations actionable and driving a real ROI, primarily due to the tools weakness in prioritizing responses due to lack of context and lack of sentiment analysis. I've found other social monitoring tools which use NLP very effectively to extract more specific social comments with greater context, sentiment and specific meaning that makes semi-automated and timely responses much more feasible. Social listening is a good start, but if you can't respond fast and at scale, you'll likely not get any ROI.

Guest Lenny Chapman
  Also check out the top 20 free social monitoring tools at www.socialbrite.org/2011/01/11/guide-to-free-social-media-monitoring-tools/.

Guest Denise Johnson
  Your list has most of the major players, but also check out the social media monitoring wiki, which includes over 200 free and fee products, at http://wiki.kenburbary.com/social-meda-monitoring-wiki.

Guest Alexa Monaic
  I thought I would share some web monitoring research I did some time ago when we were looking for a social listening solution. This first group is what I believe are the most direct competitors to Radian6—AC Nielson BuzzMetrics, (www.nielsen-online.com/product..., Alterian SM2 (www.alterian.com/socialmedia/), Brandwatch (www.brandwatch.com), Converseon (http://converseon.com/), iEngage (infosys.com/iengage/pages/inde..., Jive (jivesoftware.com/products/enga..., Omllion (omllion.com/), Position2 (position2.com), Reputeme (reputeme.com/), Sentiment Metrics (www.sentimentmetrics.com/), Simplify 360 (simplify360.com), Sysomos (http://www.sysomos.com/), ThoughtBuzz (thoughtbuzz.net), and Vocus (www.vocus.com).

This second group that follows are for the most part lower-end, less expensive systems—Beevolve (www.beevolve.com/), HowSociable (www.howsociable.com/), ListenLogic (www.listenlogic.com/), NetVibes (www.netvibes.com/), SocialMention (http://socialmention.com/), Social Talk Plus (www.socialtalkplus.com/), UberVU (www.ubervu.com/), ViralHeat (http://viralheat.com/), and Visible Technologies (www.visibletechnologies.com/).


Guest Chris Nichols
  I also find the Radian6 pricing confusing, not sure if that's by design or lack thereof. My salesforce sales rep seems about as unaware as I am. What is the pricing?
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    Monthly pricing is based on multiple factors including the number of users, topics and social channel mentions. Some pricing items are discounted when signing up for an annual or longer subscription. There are also recurring and/or setup fees for a host of third party products such as Compete (for competitive intelligence), Klout (for influence measurement), OpenCalais (people, places and things), OpenAmplify (sentiment analysis), Webtrends/Omniture/Google analytics (website traffic analysis) and Salesforce.com. Additional charges apply if you elect for historical data or exceed data volume thresholds. Pricing is no doubt complex. However, software pricing is a precarious exercise in trying to deliver flexibility, while keeping things simple—two competing goals which make finding the right balance for a broad market difficult. I think the Radian6 acquisition is still melding within Salesforce.com—and as the company still operates somewhat autonomously I would suggest contacting Radian6 directly for pricing questions.

Guest David B. Thomas
  Hi, Blake. Thanks for the positive comments about our community team and the way we "walk the walk." That's an important goal for us and a key element of the Radian6 company culture. I did see a few items in your post that we'd take issue with. Our Engagement Console, for one, has added a lot of capability to our platform, and threaded conversations are definitely possible. We'd be happy to show you. As for our pricing model, it's based on the number of seats and topic profile (the number of keywords monitored and how they are configured). There's more info on our Radian6 Pricing page. We do our best to help our customers understand how to set up topic profiles to get relevant results. We have no interest in billing people for topic profiles that aren't useful to them. As for our customer service reporting capability, it's hard to comment without specifics, but we do our best to be responsive and resolve customer issues as quickly as possible. In addition to our Support team, we have an entire (and growing) Customer For Life team devoted to keeping our customers happy (including meeting with them face-to-face). If you'd like to share specifics of the issue you allude to, feel free to email me at Dave [dot] Thomas [at] radian6.com, or pass my name along to your contact and I'll do my best to make sure he or she gets the necessary support. And feel free to contact me if you'd like to set up a demo of the Engagement Console or any other aspect of Radian6.
  Chuck socialmediaguru
    David, sounds like you don't really see the issue in your customer service department. I too have had more problems that are now at the point of being so burdensome we're looking at dropping Radian6. Radian6 sounds great until you actually become a customer. Since the merger with salesforce it has been a nightmare to get any customer service! They accounting department can't keep the invoices straight, never responds to requests for copies, and they have the nerve to tell you you're late when they can't seem to send you or find an invoice. They also don't respond to emails, nor provide the assistance that was promised during the purchase. I think they have gotten too big and no longer care about the service aspect. We are actively looking for alternatives because of their bad behavior.
  Guest David B. Thomas
    I'm sorry you've had this experience and that's definitely not acceptable. If you'd like to email me directly at dave dot thomas at radian6 dot com, I will do my best to help. I promise you we still care about customer service and are making it our highest priority to manage change and growth.
 

 

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Already a CRM leader, Salesforce.com has the most complete Social CRM offering. They are now faced with the daunting challenge of integrating Salesforce and Chatter with their recent acquisitions and socially enabling the overall solution."

~ Mark Fidelman

 

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