This post was written by Jonathan Block and Joe Galvin.

Salesforce intends to acquire social media monitoring vendor Radian6 for $326 million. Given the pace of acquisitions of social monitoring tools, and Salesforce’s growing social portfolio (Chatter and the Groupswim acquisition), this move shouldn’t be surprising. Since the use of social media is already well entrenched in most leading B2B organizations, the acquisition doesn’t signal that social has gone mainstream; it already is. What remains to be seen is if Salesforce can incorporate Radian6 into an offering that is more compelling to B2B organization than its current Chatter product.

Chatter has been the lead application for sales and the beachhead for Salesforce to engage the enterprise beyond sales and sales force automation. In sales organizations, Chatter is being widely evaluated and tested, but few have been able to quantify its value and many have retrenched. Radian6 will help that. Other functions like customer service, marketing and finance can use Chatter to engage with people or applications; again, Radian6 will provide the analytics to support that allowing Salesforce to grow its seat base outside of sales. Micro-blogging and analytics are two required elements for a social CRM suite (others being forums, blogs, and wikis). As Salesforce rounds out their social platform, they will be able to expand its footprint across the organization and compete at the enterprise level for collaboration with sales force automation at the core.

Still, the acquisition of Radian6 only furthers highlights the gaping hole in Salesforce’s product portfolio, a marketing automation platform. While lacking most of the core marketing automation capabilities, the key value that social monitoring can offer Salesforce is to give B2B organizations the ability to identify anonymous contacts more quickly within their database that are merely an IP address and a string of social activity. In many cases, these records are duplicates of a known contact that can be merged once a data field is matched. Organizations have often had to wait months for a prospect to self-identify in order to do this matching. If Salesforce can help to compress this timeline, and in the process speed the velocity to marketing qualification, it will be a compelling value proposition few B2B organizations can ignore.

Like Jigsaw and GroupSwim, Radian6 will become part of a growing portfolio of social capabilities. For Salesforce to continue its incredible growth trajectory and become the leader of the cloud, they must have a robust social platform. Radian6 gives Salesforce the monitoring and analytical capabilities that will provide enhanced levels of market and competitive intelligence from the social universe while also extracting the value from an internal social collaboration platform.