The cloud-based CRM software company announced Tuesday it would end its pursuit of a trademark on the phrase, as well as remove all references to the term in marketing materials.
Salesforce had tried to trademark “social enterprise” in the U.S., Australia, Europe and Jamaica. After the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected Salesforce’s application, the company still forged ahead, appealing the decision.
But by Tuesday, the pressure and potential public relations mess became too big to ignore.
For one, the Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA), an organization of more than 1,000 members, started a website “to tell the stories of a global movement that began long before Salesforce.com began using the phrase to describe its cloud products.” (On Tuesday, the organization said it was grateful for Salesforce’s reversal and now has to figure out what to do next with the website.)
And Salesforce’s potential ownership of the phrase not only irked businesses that sell social-based products, it also drew protests from non-profit organizations that work in the social sector. They claimed a business holding a trademark on a popular, generic term would cause confusion about groups that do work for no profit.
In a statement announcing the end of its chase of “social enterprise,” Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com CEO, wrote: “It was never our intention to create confusion in the social sector, which we have supported since our founding.”]]>
A new Forrester Research Inc. report shows that the majority of the 100 companies it recently surveyed are using social tools for social monitoring, tracking their brand and performing occasional research. All the companies are using enterprise-class social software, not free Internet tools.
“They are ready to be proactive, but they are trapped because there is so much volume and always more to monitor,” said Zach Hofer-Shall, a Forrester analyst.
In the survey, 79% reported using social software for brand tracking, while 77% use it for market research and 73% for competitive tracking. Conversely, in the category Forrester designated as “proactive,” which includes activities such as marketing messaging and product innovation, less than half of the respondents indicated using social data in those efforts. Less than 20% of those surveyed reported using social data in sales or lead generation efforts. Respondents were able to make multiple selections to show their social activity.
These results beg a few questions, such as: Why is it taking companies so long to really start using social tools to change their businesses? And, is there a possibility that interest is social is waning?
Hofer-Shall and other industry analysts said there’s no evidence that interest is slowing down. Instead, they attribute the slow adoption to the significance of the changes social tools bring to both systems and organizations.
“You don’t just start using social tools the way you might start using another form of software,” said Denis Pombriant, president of Beagle Research Inc. in Stoughton, Mass. “You have to become a social company.”
Paul Greenberg, CRM industry expert and author of CRM at the Speed of Light, says the adoption rate is certainly slow, but no more so than the adoption of other major technologies that usher in truly big change. Greenberg said a good example is the adoption of CRM itself, which took years because “its value wasn’t obviously and measurably apparent and its [initial] failure rate was pretty well known.”
Hofer-Shall said CRM groups need to focus more on integrating social data with existing customer data to truly benefit from social channels. This will give companies more complete customer profiles, enabling them to better target sales and marketing efforts.
But other industry analysts have indicated that many companies still find keeping accurate customer records with just basic information a challenge, much less expand them with new data sources.
For example, when Salesforce.com recently announced Social Contacts, a function to associate social data with existing customer profiles, analysts dubbed it a good move, but one not quite ready for prime time.
Beyond the Salesforce.com platform, companies can create their own integration between social and internal customer data, but this task isn’t easy and requires database expertise.
Hofer-Shall noted yet another option comes from vendors such as Fliptop, Full Contact and Rapleaf, that provide social identifiers for customers, but also require customers to export their data to them. The Forrester analyst cautioned this could create privacy issues.
Instead, companies should consider the old-fashioned way of acquiring the data by simply asking customers to include Twitter handles and other social identifiers when they are registering for a product or service.
“The safest way is to just ask for it,” Hofer-Shall said. “Set up social fields in the registration pages.”
In addition, the companies can take other steps to link social and internal data up front.
Hofer-Shall suggested filtering social data into existing marketing dashboards to create “combined scorecards” to assess marketing efforts.
This can be low-tech and still effective, the analyst noted. In fact, he has seen marketing groups manually input social numbers, such as the number of Facebook “likes,” into an Excel spreadsheet and comparing it with other marketing data, such as web site visits.
Additionally, once companies have this fuller view of customer feedback, they can better determine what metrics they want to use to rate marketing initiatives. In essence, companies can create their own “customized metrics,” that demonstrate what is meaningful or unique to a particular company.]]>
Ah, the digital record. That’s what can get executives so freaked out about social media – the permanency of those records, warts and all.
Schwartzman, who co-authored Social Marketing to the Business Customer with social media expert Paul Gillin, understands that getting executive buy-in on social marketing projects is no easy task.
He recently offered up a list of tips to help get that buy-in during a Social Media Today webinar. Here are just a few of his suggestions:
1-Present real evidence to executives, not just technology promises. That means collecting data about your customers and market from multiple social channels. Don’t think that social channels mean Facebook and Twitter only. Go to other online communities (and don’t forget YouTube.) This can seem like an overwhelming task because of the sheer volume of information. Schwartzman said the issue for many people is they haven’t figured out how to filter all that data. Often, people will search only their company’s name or brand. Schwartzman suggests initially working with Google Analytics to help determine the best keywords for searches on your customers and market. Once you have the data, you can demonstrate to executives that their customers (and competitors) are engaging online and your company needs to be there.
2-Position a social project as an extension of existing operations, like marketing or customer service, rather than some newfangled approach that instantly gets an executive’s hackles up because he or she doesn’t know what you are talking about. A company is already invested in marketing and customer service, so show “how you can do these things more effectively and efficiently,” Schwartzman said.
3-Understand you could have a problem with “digital illiteracy.” This is a touchy subject. Many executives do not have time to stay current with social media tools and you need to carefully navigate through this problem. Internal training programs or industry workshops could work, depending on the corporate culture.
At an IBM marketing conference earlier this year, Matthew Smith, vice president of CRM at Best Buy Co. Inc., recommended that executives bring social tools into their personal lives so they can keep abreast of the social arena. This could mean taking the most simple of steps, like maintaining a Facebook page or posting photos on ww.flickr.com.
So, when a group of 300 of IBM’s customers and prospects in the marketing field were recently surveyed about their social media plans, about half said they are using social media. The responses showed “enthusiasm is tempered,” IBM said.
The surveyed indicated many marketing groups are in experimental phases with social media tools to extend marketing operations and report more success with targeted trials rather than a broad strategy.
This and other survey results were reported at IBM’s Marketing Innovation Summit held in Boston earlier this month.
Jay Henderson, a director of product strategy at IBM who conducted the survey, said the companies finding success with social media in marketing are conducting disciplined and focused pilots rather than simply putting the company out on social channels without a clear goal. In some cases, companies have performed research as simple as determining which channel – Facebook or Twitter – is more suited to reach new customers by running a test for several weeks on both and then identifying which channel did better and why.
Among other findings, the IBM’s survey showed: