Are you in the loop? Do you really know what your customers and partners are talking about and how to quickly engage them on those topics? Saleforce thinks it has an innovative new way to do just that, and the new Communities release is the CRM powerhouse's way of making social interactions easier and more productive. 

Social Trends Now Mainstream

Social isn't just distractions and water cooler chats anymore, and people in the enterprise expect to see a semblance of familiar social features across platforms and systems. For Salesforce customers, that means being able to work closely with customers and partners and still be able to access critical business information and documents. 

Salesforce Communities can be created for interacting with customers and partners, and customized to meet the needs of whatever goal has been set. For customers, a Community can be set up with FAQs, profiles, recommendations and other familiar social tools for companies to answer customer questions, but also track what works and what doesn't. It could lead to better service and happier customers, which is of course the whole point.

While Saleforce Chatter is a social tool for collaboration behind the firewall, Communities is its outward facing counterpart. There's instant messaging, real time feeds, trending topics and the kind of interaction and interface no doubt familiar to anyone who's used Yammer or Facebook. One big difference is that Communities are fully customizable for easy integration into existing websites.

Salesforce Communities is a social collaboration and service point for the enterprise.

A Community node could be set up for a company partner, and a seamless channel created for deals and access to reps and agents. 

Customers Expecting Social

Not only is Salesforce responding to the fact more and more people are active on social networks, the company is driving wider adoption of social tools. When we go to a website, we expect it to be easy to use.

We want to be able to find the answers we need fast. Many companies struggle with making this happen, but by adding a social layer, those sites can be made more wieldy and, hopefully, make people want to come back.

Communities is available as a pilot program for now, and Salesforce has announced a wider release will come by the end of the year. Pricing is also being withheld for now. Existing Portals customers will have access to Communities when it goes full release, and there is nothing to migrate, Salesforce said in a statement.

Tell us in the comments how social your favorite network is and if it's driving productivity or otherwise making your life any easier.