Cloudforce – Social Responsibility as a Scam

So I went to Salesforce’s pre-Cloudforce Foundation Summit yesterday.

Steven Garnett, CEO Salesforce EMEA, talked about twitter at length in his keynote speech. He said: For a company the size of Air France, who normally would ignore social networks, to take this new medium seriously, we simply gave them a demonstration: This is how many times your company name is mentioned. These are the contexts. And this is how easily you can pick these up, and reply to them, thus creating a whole new wave of positive relationships.

Cloudforce is all about integrating the mentions of your brand name on social networks into your regular system of dealing with your customers – in this case, obviously, Salesforce.com. This has a number of interesting implications:

Showing everyone the relevance of social media – the push for organisations to have a presence on the different platforms has just been increased at least tenfold.

Of course it is selling Salesforce as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform – it has just come back into relevance, by cleverly marketing a typically boring sales event as something really cutting edge to all the brilliant young clever minds out there.

It is forgetting that being able to manage incoming requests from the cloud still doesn’t mean you have a proactive presence on these platforms. So by taking care of the “cloud”, organisations are wrongly given the impression that they have achieved the full scale of interactivity with the Social Networking world.

And finally, and this is what really is my big problem – At the Foundation Summit, which is Salesforce’s Corporate Social Responsibility festival of self-congratulatory business philanthropy, no mention was made of the integration of the cloud. There was no mention of the cloud, of twitter, or any social networking platform after the keynote address.

If Salesforce was serious about philanthropy, the foundation would have been the first place to roll out such integration.

But maybe that’s just me.

Now, who wanted to find out more about actually using Social Networking for good?

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13 responses to “Cloudforce – Social Responsibility as a Scam

  1. Hi Anne

    I have to take issue with your title. As someone whose charity has directly benefitted from salesforces corporate philanthropy I can assure you it isn’t a scam. I also run a usergroup of over 100 non profits who directly benefit from salesforces foundation support. I don’t believe they would share your views.
    it’s a shame you missed the cloudforce conference we attended today which had a more detailed demo of the twitter Intergration which was a real inspiration and gave more depth

    Sure , this kind of integration accross numerous social networks won’t immerse organizations in those communities. But they do provide the opportunity for time strapped organizations to. Take part and contribute positively and proactively. And I think that will be to the great benefit of those communities.

  2. I am struggling to understand this post. It contains so many comments with which I disagree that I find it hard to believe I was at the same event!

    This event was never just about social networking. It was about tools to enable organisations to better meet their mission. It was about sharing experience with other users, learning about new ways of doing things that might help in your situation.

    I was not “wrongly given the impression that they have achieved the full scale interactivity with the Social Network world” if all I did was “manage incoming requests from the cloud”. Nor did I expect to hear a lot about twitter or social networking integration after the keynote as this functionality is new and I doubt if any organisation has had the opportunity to roll it out.

    I am particularly puzzled by the comment “If salesforce were serious about philanthropy…”. To me the product donation program, employee volunteer scheme and “turn it up grants” are all serious contributions to philanthropy. I have direct experience of the Foundations activities and I think they are exemplary.

    If the writer had talked to a cross section of the salesforce users at the event (which she would have been quite able to do) she would have heard the truth about the good, and the not so good, aspects of using salesforce, directly from those who have experience. The views and opinions I gleamed by doing this are not reflected in this post.

    I would strongly recommend that anyone who is serious about learning what salesforce.com is really about comes to an event, talks to user organisations, and makes up their own mind.

    Andrew Kell

  3. Am going to address some of the issues in the comments. First of all, yes I agree my post was written very quickly the morning after the Foundation Summit, and I was still trying to get back to the main event, so it could have been clearer. But I decided to leave it as I originally wrote it.

    The issues with how Salesforce.com is using its corporate philanthropy, and Social Media in general, are much wider than I wrote in my original post. The foundation summit was nice, yeah. And I do realise that salesforce giving away a few free licenses is nice. And a few organisations are benefiting. That’s not my issue.

    What I do mind however, and I have seen sales strategies and sales events before, is how Salesforce.com is using its corporate philanthropy as leverage in hard selling. Did you see how many non-profits actually stood up when asked in the lovey-dovey keynote? It was blatant self-congratulatory smugness. Here you are trumpeting about your great cooperation with all the lovely people you do stuff for free with, and where are they?

    They weren’t there because you only used them. Show me how much Salesforce.com invested in creating a dreamy, nice atmosphere, successfully attracting brilliant young minds, and then show me how much they invested in actually supporting their not-for-profit users in creating real social change.

    Non-profit user groups supported by Salesforce? Great. Next meeting in June? Not so great. In contrast, there are at least 4 existing groups of not-for-profit Social technology experts just in London. They having weekly and monthly networking events, not because they are bored but because they feel the need to exchange information on best uses of social technologies in creating the new community we will all need to get through these difficult times.

    And then youy’re telling me the next sales event is branded Dreamforce Global Gathering. Excuse me while I have a giggle.

    A post by Benjamin Ellis on how Social Media was used during this event, and how Salesforce.com used fake accounts while banding about lies about using the live twitter site, is following and I shall post the link when it’s published.

  4. Hi Anke,

    You are angry arent you. But I have to say I think you are barking at the wrong tree 🙂

    In answer to how much effort they put in, I think they made that quite clear. About 1% Its small but significant.

    As a marketing expert, I applaud Salesforce showing that their efforts are helping non profits. Its not self congratulatory, its evidence that it has an impact, and is worthwhile doing. its also a good networking ploy, and an advantage no other business group was given at the conference. You genuinely do get coments from people after standing up who say ” hey , I didnt know you guys where non profit. I saw you stand up, what is it you do?”

    Now as for your attack on the usergroup not meeting frequently enough… As I’ve explained to you since your post… The usergroup set its own meeting agenda when formed last August. Salesforce was nothing to do with that. We agreed that meeting once every 6 weeks was how we wanted to proceed. It came from our community of users, not from any corporate directive. Salesforce help fund the group, but have no influence on it or its activities. We are independent of Salesforce. They will always help if we ask, but its out gig.

    It’s great that other groups want to meet more regularly, and change the world. Our group tends to focus on how to get more out of the CRM system we have been given, and some of the really great offerings from the app exchange which are often free or heavily discounted as a result of the corporate social responsibility culture salesforce have cultivated which seems to send you into such a rage. And its just one of a whole number of things that are going on and happening, not the sole activity.

    I don’t understand what your urgency and rush is all about. Or why you are so anti anyone promoting their business. There is no shame in achievement. If there were, there would be less to feel happy and smile about. We would never know or hear of the great things that happen every day, and the world would be an infinitely grayer and duller place.

    I say “Shout about the good you do, and shout about it to encourage others”
    .. because as you know Anke, when you shout, people do take notice, and they can and do shift their perspectives.
    So Salesforce… Shout a little louder. I’m not sure everyone heard you and understood. 🙂

  5. Hi Anke

    Your second post, like the first, contains numerous misconceptions.

    Good bloggers, like good journalists, get beyond the hype we know exists, to the essence of the subject. I think if you delved a little deeper you would see things for what they really are. Your comments might then be more constructive and taken more seriously.

    I am surprised that you are taken in so much by the hype. I think it is a shame that your obvious passion is wasted on negative posts like these which add little to help move the world forward.

    I would also agree with Ciaran Rogers’s comment. “Shout a little louder Salesforce – I am not sure everyone heard you and understood.”

  6. Ciaran,

    Thanks for your mail, and thanks for engaging on a productive level. When I spoke to Chris Atwood, offering to link them up with the not-for-profit hive mind that is nfptweetup (http://nfptweetup.pbwiki.com/ – bi-monthly), tuttle (http://tuttleclub.wordpress.com/ – weekly), netsquared (http://NetSquared.org/ – weekly) he referred me to you, so I’m glad we have hooked up. I shall reply to your questions and consult my colleagues on things I’m not sure about.

    What my colleagues will not agree with is getting involved if it’s only going to be used as a sales stunt by salesforce.com.

    Dear Andrew,

    Thanks for not getting on any sort of personal level in your insults/replies.

  7. Some impassioned comments. I’m going to try to leave aside the attitudinal stuff, and focus on some basics here. I wasn’t at the Foundation Summit, but I was at cloudforce the next day. The positioning of the salesforce foundation in the structure of the day struck me as slightly off key.

    I’ve been a senior executive at a number of publicly listed Silicon Valley companies. Every single one of them had a charitable foundation. Working in the Valley, and more broadly in the US, it seems to be a social expectation these days, if not a requirement. That is a very good thing. This is a list of just some of the corporate giving programs I am aware of in California. It’s a good resource and you can see other states from there too. It’s a who’s who of the tech industry. I’ve been to many of these companies customer meetings (and indeed been involved in organising them). I’ve never seen them make a big deal about their giving (which in some cases was 10% of the company profit). We did the occasional press release when we matched employee giving $1 for $1 during national and international disasters, but genuinely from an attitude of support, rather than self-promotion – I can say that with confidence, since I was in charge of the PR.

    Showcasing charities, supporting them and encouraging people to give to them is a brilliant and worthy act. Calling them up and stage to say how wonderful your corporation is, less so. Perhaps it is a cultural thing? Either way, it made the people in the seats around me quietly uneasy. I suggested they mention it to some SalesForce.com folks. They declined. We’re British, we don’t make a fuss. It bothers be more, as I’m a long-time SalesForce.com user.

    If you are going to major on the social contract and corporate social responsibility, then as a business you must expect people to call you on it. That’s the deal. If you are going to make a big fuss about social media and engaging with user communities, then you better be doing it. That means on their terms, not yours.

    Andrew, thank you for the comment on my post. I think you are being a little disingenuous though. I’m assuming you don’t work for SalesForce.com (since you would be legally obliged to state an interest if that were the case), so are a neutral observer. Come along to WordCamp UK for a fuller discussion on blogging versus jouranlism – there are professionals from both sides of the fence there and it makes for a great debate! However, you’ve failed to practice what you preach in this instance.

    Ciaran, I think you are missing the opportunity that social media affords. It isn’t about shouting. That’s not how people hear. It is about talking to the people who are listening and listening to the people who are talking. Broadcast stuff belongs in the mass media, where it will gracefully go to its death. Please don’t encourage people to shout, there’s quite enough of that already.

    Quietly celebrate your success and let other people pass it on. I want to hear other people’s opinions on a business. Social media enables me to do that. One word from a customer is worth more to me than ten from the company itself. I understand your position must be a little awkward, since you are funded by SalesForce.com.

    It looks to me like Anke is keen to engage, and I hope SalesForce.com take her up on it. Good on them for following up. Cisco Systems and Microsoft have been at this for a long while and are out here in the community. It’s good to see others joining in.

    After all, this is all about customer RELATIONSHIP management, right?

  8. A fair and reasoned perspective Andrew, but I must clear up one thing. I am not funded by Salesforce.com, and nither is the organisation I work for. They donate a product to the charity I work for which we use. I volunteer to run their usergroup, for which I can claim out of pocket expenses. Nothing awkward about that.

  9. A fair and reasoned perspective Andrew, but I must clear up one thing. I am not funded by Salesforce.com, and neither is the organisation I work for. They donate a product to the charity I work for which we use. I volunteer to run their usergroup, for which I can claim out of pocket expenses. Nothing awkward about that.

  10. Hi Anke, Benjamin,

    I am AN employee of the Salesforce.com Foundation – I’ve met Anke but not Ben. I’d be very happy to chat with you both to give you the full view of the vision, resources, structure and intentions of the Foundation, and how we integrate with Salesforce.com the Company. Once you’ve got a full picture you’ll be in a better position to decide if what we do is cynical marketing or an attempt at genuinely using our resources to try to do some good in the world.

    My email is: ikelly@salesforce.com.

    Best

    Isabel Kelly
    International Director
    Salesforce.com Foundation

    Isabel

  11. Hello Isabel,

    I am very sure that what you do is genuinely doing some good in the world, and I have no criticism of the foundation. It would be great to talk about what could be done to turn 1/1/1 into 2/2/2 (seeing as it is a Web 2.0 world after all) and to ensure that SalesForce.com’s marketing leads to positive engagement.

  12. I agree with Benjamin. My criticism wasn’t of the foundation as such, I was very impressed with the event, Isabel. My criticism was of the sales event using CSR to soften up the atmosphere at the sales event.

    Let’s get together. I would like to take you up on your offer, Isabel, and get a better idea of the vision, resources, and structure of the foundation. With that understanding we can then develop ideas on how we could help your clients to take advantage of the SalesForce offering and integrate social media into their work.

    Let’s work together on making a positive impact in the community.

  13. Benjamin,

    If I have appeared to be disingenuous it was not intentional. I do not usually say too much about myself as it is not my way. But if my previous remarks need some further context, and it helps move things along, then I am happy to make a declaration.

    I do not, and have not, worked for salesforce.com.

    Between 2000 and 2006 I worked for a customer of salesforce.com.

    I am currently a volunteer with six charities, two of which use the salesforce.com platform. I occasionally have contact with salesforce.com employees on behalf of these two charities.

    I have no formal relationship with salesforce.com, the salesforce.com Foundation, the UK User Group, or any partner organisations. I do attend their events from time to time and accept their hospitality (as we all did at the Cloudforce event last week).

    I am unashamedly supportive of the salesforce.com foundation because of my own observations and experiences of their work over many years.

    I trust that this information will allay your suspicions about my sincerity.

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