New app deepens Salesforce-Facebook possibilities

Appirio is releasing an application that enables Salesforce customers to tap Facebook for marketing and employee-hunting.

Software and services vendor Appirio is releasing the Referral Management Solution, a set of technologies that enable Salesforce customers to use Facebook for functions like viral marketing and employee recruitment.

The marketing feature searches through keywords within Facebook friend profiles and tells users which friends might be the right target for various offers or sales campaigns.

Meanwhile, the recruitment function matches a user's friend profiles with keywords in company job opening descriptions. The user gets the results through their own Facebook profile, from which they can alert friends to the job opening.

A "viral sales" extension tells users which of their Facebook friends are also in their company's Salesforce system, potentially providing additional sales opportunities among people users already know. This feature is similar to the MyFriends@Work application Appirio released late last year.

MyFriends@Work hasn't gained much steam -- only about 150 users are actively using it as of Friday, according to Facebook.

But given Appirio's dual emphasis on on-demand applications and strategic consulting, Appirio may land some clients among medium-to-large enterprises for the new offering, said 451 Group analyst China Martens.

"A lot of companies are saying, 'We should be doing something with social networking, but what?'" Martens said.

Subscription pricing for Appirio's Referral Management Solution starts at US$25,000 a year. Custom configuration services are available with the cost varying depending on the job's scope. The San Mateo, California, company is planning to extend the application to other platforms in the future.

Appirio probably targeted Facebook at first, instead of more targeted social networks like the business-oriented LinkedIn, because of its sheer size, Martens said. Facebook has more than 150 million active users, compared to 30-plus million on LinkedIn.

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