Social CRMs

July 14, 2010

Traditionally, CRMs aim at improved operational effectiveness, easier access to information, and improved interdepartmental collaboration, areas that are all critically important to the success of any business, but that remained usually confined to the internal gears of the company.

Social media adds a new dimension to those traditional areas of CRM.  The integration of social media into a CRM differs in focus from traditional customer relationship management in a few key ways. However, bringing the power of Social Media to CRMs and team collaboration is something that is easier said than done.

Main reason for a business to invest in CRM applications is to create a centralized place where different members of a team can simultaneously track activities, appointments, potential deals, notes, and other customer-related information. CRM systems grew out of this need to store, track, and report on critical information about customers and projects.

But times have changed enormously since the advent of Web 2.0. Social media usage has seen unprecedented growth during the past year and according to the latest report from leading online researcher, The Nielsen Company,  it now dominates the Internet in more ways that it could ever be thought possible. Nielsen’s Report has  found that three social media sites, Facebook, Wikipedia and YouTube are among  the seven biggest global online brands. The report also reflects the phenomenal growth in visitors to those sites, 74% of Internet users have by now visited a social networking or blogging site, and they are spending an average of almost six hours per month on social media sites.

Social CRMs are designed to attract the attention of those potential customers who are searching the Internet through these new social outlets to find answers to their businesses or personal challenges.  And nothing captivates the attention of searchers like relevant and compelling content.  Having the right content, in the right amount, will help those needing your product or service to connect with you.  Whether it be by developing a blog post, podcast, YouTube video, or Webinar, creating attractive content is a key pillar of social CRM strategy. Creating content in formats that make it easy for your target audience to consume increases the probability that they will contact you. And on the on-line world is all about possibilities.

At the heart of building a successful social CRM strategy is the interaction that transforms clicks into leads. This may take the form of a comment left on a blog post, following your company on Twitter, or even allowing for the embedding of your videos  on their webpages.  There are numerous ways to participate in meaningful interactions with people looking for help for their particular challenges.  Formalizing a strategy to increase the likelihood of engaging in these interactions is fundamental for the success of any social CRM.

Social Media is all about people and community, and Social CRM couldn’t be different.  You or your company must participate in ongoing conversations taking place in your particular industry.  Fully understanding the importance of contributing to discussions, in a transparent manner, will help you build the kind of reputation needed to become a valued member of the online communities important to your business.

It’s important to keep in mind however that social CRM is not a substitute for customer relationship management, but rather a complement to those traditional areas of customer relationship management that are buried somewhere inside the internals of your business venture.