davidalston_socialnerdia1David Alston is the VP of Marketing and Community at Radian6, a software firm that helps remove the barriers to effective social media monitoring and analysis. I had a great time chatting with David on the 15th episode of The Social Nerdia Show! and you can listen to the conversation in its entirety on the player below or by subscribing to our podcast on iTunes.

I checked out a demo of Radian6 before talking to David, and I must say I was impressed. Their tool looks pretty slick and comprehensive. I particularly like the fact that it integrates with Salesforce and WebTrends, which many companies already use. And, as David told me, Radian6 is going to integrate with more CRM, Business Intelligence and Analytics systems in the future.

David shared about how the young company got started by being part of the online community. He also explained how their real-time web-based solution enables companies to interact online without having to manually go to every blog and site out there. "Once you get all that data from all over social media, from all the YouTubes of the world, Flicker, all the blogs,Twitter, Friendfeed, news, all that stuff gets pulled into one big topic profile and once it's there you can do all kind of drill downs and look for trends."

This then allows companies "to be as efficient and effective as possible when it comes to listening, engaging and measuring in social media." Radian6 doesn't help with just the gathering of  what's happening online, but also in the understanding of the data that is accumulated (in part by discovering what they call the "share of conversation") in order to truly engage with customers instead of just managing them.

We talked about various topics, including the fact that it's easier to talk to a person than to a faceless corporation. "A masked brand never moves, it doesn't react and communicate," David said. Good examples of "unmasked brands" are Frank Eliason from Comcast (which uses Radian6) and Christopher Barger from GM, who have given their employers a face and a voice.

Some of the other things we talked about were the problem with sponsored conversations on Twitter, the "Rockstars of Social Media CRM" concept with Chris Brogan, and the appropriate way in which companies should respond to negative word of mouth. A recent example is the Best Buy $9.99 HDTV pricing error that created a lot of buzz. While this could have been horrible for Best Buy, they quickly reacted to turn the situation around.

I recommend you listen to the interview in its entirety because David made some very interesting points like this one: "Every day there's new thinking, and if you're listening, engaging in it, learning from other people, and contributing, you're always going to be on the leading edge; you can't miss it, because it's there. Social media allows you to be on the crest of the wave all the time because people are always bringing more information to the forefront."

I especially enjoyed hearing about David's story and his thoughts on how today's students will become great professionals. David doesn't think it's all up to the universities. Instead, it's in big part up to the students themselves to become passionate about it and get involved.

It is definitely time to get involved, not just for students and marketers, but anyone that wants to be a part of a rapidly changing world that is more connected than ever before.

Companies in particular might be missing on a huge opportunity if they don't realize the importance of the shift from one-way mass communication to global, real-time, and authentic conversations.

Visit Radian6 and David's blog TweetPR to learn more about them, and check out some of our other interviews.

Copyright © Esteban Contreras. All rights reserved.