Salesforce Social Contacts Review
Salesforce Social Contacts

Salesforce Social Contacts Review

11/14/2011 by Justin Edelstein
The Social Enterprise strategy for Salesforce has been declared and being able to engage with customers where they are talking is one of the key components. Social Contacts is the feature that promises to allow users to get a better understanding of their customers. While keeping in mind that Social Contacts is just in it's first version I have to say that I think they missed the mark.

I am going to break this down into four sections - an overview of the feature as it exists today, things I like, things I don't like (unfortunately there are too many of these), and where I'd like to see Social Contacts go in the future. I covered this topic in detail with @JasonMAtwood in our last CloudFocus Weekly so feel free to download and listen to us let loose on the topic.

At its core it allows users on a Contact record in Salesforce to expose some social data about that Contact. There are three social networks that it's tied to - Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. These three services' logos appear in the top left corner of the detail page of a Contact and allow users to click on the logos and bring back varying levels of data depending on the service they select. In all cases a search is run against the social network selected for the Contact's name, once results are returned the user "connects" their social profile with their Salesforce Contact. Keep in mind privacy is adhered to and only the data you are supposed to see as an individual person will be surfaced - as an example in Facebook not every user inside of Salesforce will see a Contact the same way because of the controls around Facebook profiles - a good thing.

Things I Like

One of the best features is the ability to snap the Contact's picture to their Salesforce record from either of the three social networks. It really brings life to a Contact because sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. What Social Contacts really allows you to do is bring in more data about a Contact and that is always useful. Whether it be their Twitter feed or some data from their Facebook profile it's always better to know more then know less about your customers. The Twitter integration is by far the best, it includes the Contact's picure, their follow/following count, their bio, and their Twitter feed all of which is linked and clickable. It's unfortunate but the list of things I like kinda dwindles here. Again, I'm going to restate that this is the first release of Social Contacts so hopefully it gets better over time and I'll address what I'd like to see towards the end of this post.

Things That Need Improvement

I'll start with the LinkedIn portion of Social Contacts. You get literally no information from LinkedIn - a picture and title is it - their name isn't even clickable so I can jump over to LinkedIn for more data. Oh wait, there is one more thing, the large button that asks you to upgrade to LinkedIn's own product that is $30 per user per month. This could possibly be the most worthless button in all of Salesforce - LinkedIn should be the absolute best of the three networks available and it's by far the worst, it's not even close. The Facebook integration is decent when you can get it to work. I have no clue how Salesforce is searching through Facebook to find the people to connect to a Contact but I do know that you are logged in to Facebook when you are doing the search. is it that I can't find myself when trying to connect my Contact in my own Salesforce instance? I should be able to find myself considering I'm logged into Facebook as myself right? I tried searching for my name, my username, my email, everything...I literally couldn't find myself! Once you do find someone to connect to their Facebook profile the data you get back is good - it's all the profile data but what would be really nice is to see their status updates. I'm not sure why if I can see a person's status updates within Facebook why I can't see it inside of Salesforce - maybe a licensing limitation but I'd like to see this limitation dissapear.

Lastly, why are these called Social Contacts and not Social People? Why isn't this feature available on Leads? Perhaps a separate feature called Social Leads or Social Prospects? Leads are people too you know! I would think that it would be just as valuable, if not more, to have more data on my Leads then on my Contacts. This seems like a glaring hole and something that will eventually be filled.

Where I want Social Contacts to Go

The biggest thing that I want from Social Contacts is the ability to interact with the data I am surfacing through these connections. Currently to interact, meaning tweet with, "Like" a Facebook status update, or do anything with LinkedIn I have to either install the Salesforce for Social App from the AppExchange or purchase the LinkedIn premium app. The Salesforce for Social App isn't all that bad, we use it at Arkus, but it doesn't have any connection to Social Contacts so these two areas of Social within Salesforce are totally disconnected and don't work with eachother causing duplicate effort to be done. All the demos we have seen thusfar around Social Contacts highlight this very feature - the ability to interact and join the conversation - hopefully this will be the next thing built right into the platform.

I can't restate this enough - this is only the first version of Social Contacts so it's early in the game. I may have been a tough critic but I think it's necessary to be harsh because that is the only way these features are going to get better. I don't think in it's current iteration Social Contacts are anything to write home about (though I did just write a lengthy blog post about them) but I do know that this is a large investment area for Salesforce so they are liable to get better as time goes by. As a whole the Social Contacts feature is a great idea. Unforunately it's not all that useful in it's current form.

If you want to discuss Social Contacts with me feel free to post on our Facebook page or tweet me at @JustEdelstein.