Salesforce has finally made that critical social media acquisition. Salesforce paid $276 in cash plus stock for the acquisition of Radian6, which has some big brands as customers including Dell, GE, Kodak, Pepsico, and UPS. Salesforce definitely needed something more robust than just chatter in its social media portfolio. With this acquisition, Salesforce can now offer a integrated platform for  monitoring and analyzing social media conversations around companies and brands. There must be significant synergies in this deal given that Radian6 and Salesforce likely share some of the same customers and that multi-channel ROI is front-and-center, with social media as its linchpin.  Multi-channel ROI is a critical issue since companies are struggling to understand the ROI behind their social media investments, especially on the B2B front. Nobody is in a better position to understand this relationship than Salesforce. With all the sales and revenue data sitting within the Salesforce ecosystem, the acquisition will make it possible to include social media ROI data into dashboards and not just keep it as a line item in the budget. Moreover, it will now be possible to create interesting mash-ups between conversations within the enterprise on chatter and that happening in the public cloud on Twitter, Facebook etc. This merging of information in the public and private clouds has potential to create great value for both companies and their customers.

Salesforce has taken on a challenge that Marketing Automation companies have kept on the sidelines. None of them have significant social media monitoring & analysis capabilities and have mostly chosen to keep their focus on email, prospect behavior on websites and content consumption, elements and channels that are downstream to the social media traffic and are closer to the purchase end of the funnel.

Congratulations to Salesforce on the acquisition and I look forward to seeing it my SFDC instance. And may be we will just see a follow-on acquisition of Lithium by Benioff’s arch competitor, Microsoft for its CRM portfolio.

Update: Some great perspectives on the deal from a marketing automation angle by Joe Payne of Eloqua and Jon Miller of Marketo. For the social media analytics angle, read this.