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WHO IT’S FOR: Anyone who wants comprehensive yet clear information about what's being said about their company (and their competitors) across multiple social media, who's saying it and how to engage them.
WHAT IT IS: A service that scours millions of public online sources for mention of the terms you select, then presents that information in ways you can understand and use to grow your business.
THE GOOD: The company offers no-hassle free trials to help you determine if Radian6 works for your business under real-life conditions. An Apple iPhone app enables access to many Radian6 features and tools from almost anywhere. And with thousands of clients, the company proves its commitment to superior services and support every day.
THE BAD: It's impossible to tell how much Radian6 will really cost your company to deploy without talking with a sales representative. There is no interactive online demo of Radian6, nor can you activate your free trial online – you must talk to a sales representative for either. And the selection of videos available at the company's Web site, while informative, don't really give a true “hands-on” sense of using the solution.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Anyone seeking to monitor “the social Web” in ways designed to engage and deepen relationships with customers, partners and prospects should take a close look at Radian6.
Pricing: Basic Radian6 pricing is based on the number of times your company (or whichever single topic you choose) is mentioned. The “Getting Started” and “Agency” tiers each allows a search for one topic and returns up to 10,000 mentions for $600.00. The “Advanced” tier enables up to six topics and returns up to 200,000 mentions for $4,000.00. The Advanced tier also includes integration with Web analytics solutions from Google, Omniture and Webtrends. Integrations with additional “semantic providers” (sources of mentions) are available via the company's “Insights” offering for $100 each per topic profile per tier. The company website also says that there are per-user fees, but does not clearly spell these out anywhere. Radian6 also offers a 50-percent discount to registered and qualified charities and not-for-profit organizations on all of its solutions except Insights.
(All pricing is for accounts in the United States and Canada only. Larger-scale deployments and those in other countries must be negotiated directly with Radian6 or one of its international partners.)
Support: Before you start using Radian6, you are encouraged to take a one-hour training session provided by the company. The company also offers a wealth of blogs about its solutions and how best to use them, and of case studies, e-books, presentations and whitepapers to help users and even prospects to educate themselves.
The company offers support via e-mail, toll or toll-free telephone and Twitter 24 hours a day, five days a week, from Sunday at 9 p.m. through Friday at 9 p.m. US Eastern Time. There is also an active user community spanning Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, which are also used extensively by company support team members.
Radian6 also offers fee-based professional services. These can range from help with listening to social networks and analyzing the results of those efforts to oversight of a company's entire Radian6 deployment.
Compatibility Details: Users of any leading Web browser, including Microsoft Internet Explorer or Firefox, can access all Radian6 Dashboard features. Users of the Radian6 Engagement Console (described below) can also download a free application for the Apple iPhone at that company's iTunes Store. If you're interested in the Engagement Console after learning what it does, make sure that it runs on the systems your intended users have.
Setup: When you sign up for a free trial or a “live” account, your Radian6 representative supplies you with log-in credentials for all authorized users of your account.
How it Works:
Once you've logged into your new account, unlike many other social media management tools, Radian6 does not ask to import your online contacts. Instead, you're asked to create a “topic profile” that includes list of terms and keywords that matter to you and your company. The software then scans millions of online information sources and starts to create a data set of mentions that include the terms you've chosen. It also includes other “nearby” terms and allows you to see posts and other items related to those terms. You can use this additional information to fine-tune your list of keywords.
It presents this information via what the company calls an “Analysis Dashboard,” a set of easy-to-navigate on-screen “widgets” you can move and re-size. You can view streams of all mentions, or sort by type (such as Twitter tweet or blog post). Radian6 also offers estimates of how influential individual online denizens are to the topics you care about, and the sentiment of individual online comments. You can tag individual items you find, then assign them to individuals or teams for reply or follow-up. You can also tweak sentiments such as “positive” or “negative” and create e-mail or text-message alerts triggered by specific mentions. A “Summary Dashboard” further consolidates information discovered by Radian6 to provide a “snapshot” of who's saying what where online about your company, brand, products or competitors.
An “Engagement Console” presents a grid of all the social conversations of relevance to your company, in real time. You can easily and quickly group posts, respond to posts, or assign posts to others via “one-click workflow.” And you can see responses and results of assignments as they happen. Integration with Facebook, Salesforce.com's Chatter and Twitter are included, as is the ability to collect and report on every social interaction overseen by Radian6. Users can access the social profiles of others, which includes information about past conversations and relevant online posts and networks.
Extensions to the Engagement Console currently add integrated access to external resources. Current options include bit.ly, the Web site that shortens long Web addresses, and Twitpic, a service for posting photographs on Twitter. More are planned, according to the company.
The Engagement Console is free-of-charge to current Radian6 users. Pricing for others is anticipated soon. Also, while the other key Radian6 features are Web-based, the Engagement Console is currently a desktop application. Make sure to determine whether the Engagement Console will run on the systems of the users you want to have access to it!
Security and Privacy: The Radian6 Web site provides no specific information about security measures. However, the company is a division of Salesforce Canada, a subsidiary of the pioneer in delivering business services via the cloud. So your information is likely fairly safe, but you should get details about specific security measures as part of your due diligence before signing any contracts.
Comparison to similar products: Radian6 is unique in its focus on searching tens of millions of public online networks and venues to develop powerful profiles and engagement opportunities. Its user interfaces are at least as easy to use as those of leading competitors, a plus given the broad range of information sources tapped by Radian6. And the company's support team is widely acknowledged as one of the most responsive in this marketplace.
Conclusions: Radian6 offers significant potential benefits to both new and experienced social media managers. The company's focus on generating actionable information from a huge range of online information sources places its solutions on a different level from most competitors. Radian6 combines social media listening, engagement and management features with measurement and analytics abilities not easily matched by leading competitors. If your focus is using social media management to find new customers and partners, delight current ones, identify and engage with market influencers (or any or all of these) Radian6 is worth your attention. (By the way, the comparison to Zappos, a very popular retail Web site renowned for its ease-of-use and great service, was posted on Twitter by a delighted Radian6 user.)