Posted by: eliz_beth | November 7, 2011

Social Contacts in Salesforce.com

Day 7 of Blogaday November…

I’m a firm believer in social media. Where I work– well, not so much. A few of the gang are signing up on LinkedIn, a few others on Facebook. The market we work in is only recently opening up to the world of social media so I’ve not had requests to add related fields to track any of this sort of detail.

So how excited was I when Salesforce announced they were adding social contacts in Salesforce? Extremely! I looked at it as a way to work with our sales team to give them insight into the competition, into their contacts, into what the word is on the street they’re not standing on directly.

Then social contacts rolled out. *sigh*

I’m not even touching the fact you have to pay to search and link to LinkedIn. That’s on LinkedIn and I’ll leave it that I am not thrilled with their pricing. Especially when you can access and search for free already.

Twitter and Facebook connections are currently free and fairly easy to use in principle at least. After playing with it this morning- this is what I got using myself as the contact, in an UE org:

Twitter – actually I came up quickly in the results. It was easy to figure out which one was me because I cheated- I know my twitter handle and my picture associated with my name. 🙂

Facebook – no go. My profile was not one of the 20+ results returned.

Salesforce has my name, my address, my email address used for the two systems involved, and phone information. From what I can tell, it only passes on the first and last name to the service to search. Which if your name is something unique like Pilot Lee or Dweezil Zappa, great! Odds are it will find you. If you’re like me and have a relatively common first/last name or have an even more common name – John Smith anyone? – then searching from the CRM tool is going to be difficult at best. In fact, if I put my full name that I have on my Facebook account in the search field, it still can’t find me on Facebook! Really?

Social media and social contacts are relatively young, practically newborn in my market. I want them to embrace what social contacts can give them – wouldn’t you like to review a customer’s timeline and get insight on if it would be a good time to cold call them? Frustrating as it is to wake my users to the concept of social media, giving them this tool is going to make it more difficult for them than solving a problem many don’t see as existing in the first place. The tool is too simple and there is no means of bypassing the connector. So if you did know my name as it is used on Facebook and wanted to connect my profile to your CRM instance- it would be impossible. Or you could try and keep refreshing for every Elizabeth Davidson on FB hoping you’d see my profile pic (and praying I didn’t pick that moment to change it). Same goes for twitter- if you have a common name – if their name is used at all with the bio, you’re at the mercy of luck.

Here’s what I think needs to happen to make this a truly game changing component to Salesforce:

1- Someone knock some sense into LinkedIn on their pricing. Really. Especially for those who already pay for their services.
2- Standard fields! There is no where to enter the information directly- you have to use the search and the problems with that I define above. Ideally, you’d have a place to enter the contact’s twitter handle. It would be available as a reportable field as well. There’s individual links for FB users that could be used here also.
3- If the requirement for the user to have their own log in to the service can not be changed, how about making it possible for the admin to set up an account. Think about this:
JimSales has a great relationship with ClientA
JimSales decides to add ClientA’s Facebook account to their CRM
JimSales signs in as himself to make the connection and view it.
(We’ll say he’s successful in finding ClientA)
ClientA has posted something personal, possibly not safe for work
JimSalesBoss comes by, sees ClientA’s highly inappropriate post on JimSales’s screen. ClientA didn’t mean to get JimSales in any hot water, he’s even got JimSales on a private filter and never expected JimSales to see this at work.

See where this gets very quickly? If the client and user have a relationship outside of the work environment, that’s great. But it could lead to some very uncomfortable circumstances even if Salesforce is only showing a feed from FB, not storing the data.

Having an official account which may not have any interactive activity may be the way to go to avoid problems and be able to see accounts consistently in the company.

Just some thoughts on the rollout– again, I love the idea, I would love to have the ability to use this and get my users involved, just the functionality leaves so much to be desired. I look forward to seeing how this develops!

Update:
Thanks to Judi Sohn, we were able to figure out why I couldn’t see myself. There are two settings in Facebook you have to correct to make sure your profile is viewable by the general public. Post coming soon to explain as it’s a bit more than you’d think.

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Responses

  1. […] is, until you try it, per my previous post. Twitter is not too bad if the person has their name associated with the account. I’m still […]

  2. I’m also pretty dismayed by the Social Contacts release; particularly for the points you express regarding the LinkedIn. Does anyone know where the information is stored once the SalesForce Contact is successfully tied to a LinkedIn entity? Possibly a hidden field against the Contact? If this is retrievable, and not encrypted, Administrators could just abuse this and create a Visualforce app to view more of the individual’s LinkedIn profile than just their name (give me a break), job title and picture.

    • Jonny –
      Thanks for stopping by! I’m not sure what is going on especially behind the scenes. I’ve not played with the linkedin piece as much as I have facebook and you can read this post for details there. It’s frustrating to say the least, would love more transparency from Salesforce on this. Hopefully we’ll get more information sooner than later and understand how this is working better. Additionally I’m hoping we’ll also get manual entry fields as well. I like the idea of being easy to search, but in reality it is not that simple and adds to the frustration level.

  3. I agree re:facebook. I can see a contact on the company’s facebook page, but can’t find him on the salesforce-social-facebook-search facility. What a bungle by salesforce… I hope they get it better in the next release.

  4. Thank you for an excellent perspective on Social Accounts in Salesforce.com. My initial enthusiasm upon testing it quickly fell to dismay. I’m not saying that a subscription to LinkedIn is not valuable, but to be truly beneficial then I would want every one of our Salesforce users to be able to view the information. Do I need a subscription for every one? The value of a CRM tool comes from the visibility of all interactions across the whole enterprise and beyond. I’ll talk to LinkedIn about a corporate subscription, but the last time I tried that it was no go.

    • Hello Phil!
      I have not used the LinkedIn paid service yet. I’ve heard that in order to view LinkedIn info within Salesfore, you have to have the paid account. Of course you can still some or all data in LinkedIn directly- depending on the privacy levels. Sorry I don’t have more details to share!


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