Sunday, September 18, 2011

What’s Next: A Salesforce Social Network for Ad Agencies and Marketers?

Last week I wrote a piece for’s CloudBlog that asked “Will ‘Mad Men’ Drive the Social Enterprise?”  This fleshed out some of the ideas I raised in last Monday’s post on social networks.  The not-so-subtle message was that the cloud leader should be aggressive in pursuing relationships with ad agencies.

This drew a comment from one reader questioning whether there was a role for agencies in the Social Enterprise.  He didn’t see the need to let any company come between our customers and our brands.

Embrace, Don’t Replace

That kind of thinking fails to take into account the existing, often long-term, relationships between agencies and their clients.  Instead of trying to displace the creative team, must embrace them. Taking a page from Facebook might be a good start.

Last April, the social network giant started Facebook Studio for agencies and marketers.  The site features “Creatives Talk Live” webcasts, a Learning Lab to help agencies and their clients get started with social networks, a Studio blog, and a directory of the global agencies that are members of the community.
The most attractive part for agencies, though, may be the opportunity to brag about their work.  There is a Gallery of nearly 250 submissions built on Facebook.  Most are built around well-known brands.  You will also notice a Showcase featuring the top 20 campaigns.  Facebook describes this as “celebrating the very best work created using Facebook.” 

These are brilliant ideas.   No other industry gives out more awards than the advertising world. 
You can be sure that the “Likes” for each campgaign are closely monitored, too.  Overall, 162,000 Like Facebook Studio.

What do you think?
Should create its own Studio?   It has a lot of the pieces that creatives need – Radian6 for sentiment analysis and data visualization, and Heroku for custom development, and Chatter for collaboration.  It also has the advantage of being more open than Facebook in that it embraces Google, Twitter, and other social networks/tools.
As always, I welcome your feedback and ideas.


P.S. Here are the links to the Cloudblog and CloudAve posts.  You can add your comments there, too.


  1. I agree with the statement of embracing versus displacing. Ideally, salesforce would embrace the ad agencies on their strengths in creativity, and assist in their ability to innovate in this space. I'm not sure I fully understand the opportunity for advertising here, as it could be disruptive to a user of CRM. There are 2 exceptions to that rule:
    1- This could follow the idea of "lite version" vs. "regular/full" where SFDC could charge a premium for ad-free space, or (alternatively) drive access down market by offsetting costs with ad revenue (although they are already successful in this space).
    2- This ad space could take on a life of it's own, within a salesforce customer's business. Essentially, this could be used as a collaboration tool, dynamically serving up content about products, initiatives, issues, that matter to the user. Again- a premium, but based on the value of a more intelligent worker. Not sure an ad agency is required for this part.

    Interesting thoughts...

  2. Nick,

    I'm sorry that I wasn't more clear. My primary point is that salesforce will need to recruit ad agencies if they really want to promote the idea of social networks for customers and products. The value prop has to be win-win-win vs. contentious.

    I would hope that we never see ads inside business apps.

    Hope this helps.


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