Getting a grasp on social CRM

CRM expert Dave Taber investigates the current state of social CRM and the emerging technology tools opening up new opportunities for customer insight

The marketing community has been having so much fun with the term social CRM it's hard to know exactly what it means. Social CRM already offers obvious advantages for both revenue generation and customer support functions, but the definition sure seems to be changing as vendors build out feature sets and integrate acquired companies.

Sure, you can get a plugin that looks into Facebook or LinkedIn, but these will help you see only your personal social network in an easier way. Likewise, you can hook up a lexical analysis tool to your customer community engine, but that really only gives you trailing indicators of sentiment or reputation. These things alone won't help you understand the dynamics of your commercial and personal relationships, let alone provide timely responses. That's the Holy Grail.

Despite all the hype, there's a lot of innovation going on here, so let's take a look some social CRM basics.

Lead enrichment has been a real beneficiary of social networking, allowing Salesforce.com's Jigsaw and others to use crowd-sourcing and other techniques to keep volatile contact information up to date. Other approaches to lead enrichment focus on Web scraping and lexical inference. Zoominfo and other systems, for example may synthesise several avatars from an individual's publicly available information. However, this can lead to some ambiguous information value. A case in point: I was recently represented in ZoomInfo as five separate profiles. Consequently, social network graphers and scorers are an area of important innovation, as they help disambiguate ‘Which Dave Taber is this, anyway?’ and help you understand who follows whom.

As you'll remember from The Tipping Point , all social networks are not created equal. Certain individuals have enormous social network reach and act like Internet exchange hubs. It is therefore critical to identify and leverage these ‘connectors’ to get the maximum social network effect. If you follow the idea that commerce is a conversation, then finding the mavens in your community and working them to best effect for PR, marketing and customer service is going to be one of the highest ROI areas for social CRM.

Unfortunately, there is an area where we haven't seen much yet: identifying who in your organisation has the best connection to someone you need to get to. It would be nice to know who has the best social path, for both speed and credibility of connection. Due to privacy policies, security issues and API limitations, however, it looks like we're going to be waiting a while for this one.

With the Facebook IPO and the Salesforce acquisition of Buddy Media, social advertising is all over the trade and mainstream press. There are cool success stories here, but go in with your eyes open. Results vary, and missteps can cost you in customer reputation – or thanks to violations of privacy, in court.

Far more mature are product review engines such as Bazaarvoice and Extole, as well as sites from Yelp and others. Because these systems develop and groom the reactions of your customers, they can achieve dramatic results. Decades of data show the unsolicited opinions of customers are many times more credible and influential than advertising can ever be. Indeed, an entire methodology has sprung out of the research surrounding The Ultimate Question .

For both marketing and customer service, it's important to understand the attitudes of prospects and happiness of customers. That's why sentiment analytics and social media monitoring have become such vibrant areas of social CRM. Reputation Defender, Radian6 and BuzzMetrics are just three of the more recognisable names in this field of more than 200 products, though it's worth noting most of these products are highly specialised and not particularly well-integrated with popular CRM infrastructure.

To help reinforce the right kind of customer reverberations, community management engines help shepherd customers (typically, active community participants) and corral prospects (often, lurkers). When properly linked with your CRM nurturing campaigns, social communities can be equally important to marketing and customer support functions.

Finally, the latest gamification and engagement systems from Bunchball, BuddyMedia, Badgeville and some other ‘B’ companies offer a tantalising look into the potential of social media when combined with social engineering. Expect these to have the biggest payoff with early prospects and confirmed customers, helping extend your influence outside of your ‘walled garden’ community.

With all this, it's easy to have unrealistic expectations about what social CRM will give you. Reaping the benefits of social CRM will also require some work on your part, as well as your technology team, and it won't happen overnight. Remember, though, that innovation rarely comes to those who wait.

David Taber is the author of the new Prentice Hall book, " Salesforce.com Secrets of Success" and is the CEO of SalesLogistix, a certified Salesforce.com consultancy focused on business process improvement through use of CRM systems. SalesLogistix clients are in North America, Europe, Israel and India. Taber has more than 25 years of experience in high tech, including 10 years at the VP level or above.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments
cmo-xs-promo

Latest Videos

More Videos

Anyone can become a victim of the sophisticated schemes set up by these scam websites. It's not about being smart; I don't consider mysel...

Mathieu Lecompte

ACCC takes Meta to court over scam cryptocurrency advertising

Read more

Nice blog!Blog is really informative , valuable.keep updating us with such amazing blogs.influencer agency in Melbourne

Rajat Kumar

Why flipping Status Quo Bias is the key to B2B marketing success

Read more

good this information are very helpful for millions of peoples customer loyalty Consultant is an important part of every business.

Tom Devid

Report: 4 ways to generate customer loyalty

Read more

Great post, thanks for sharing such a informative content.

CodeWare Limited

APAC software company brings on first VP of growth

Read more

This article highlights Gartner’s latest digital experience platforms report and how they are influencing content operations ecosystems. ...

vikram Roy

Gartner 2022 Digital Experience Platforms reveals leading vendor players

Read more

Blog Posts

​Why we need to look at the whole brand puzzle, not just play with the pieces

Creating meaningful brands should be a holistic and considered process. However, all too frequently it’s one that is disparate and reactive, where one objective is prioritized at the expense of all others. So, what are the key pieces to the ‘good’ brand puzzle?

Marketing overseas? 4 ways to make your message stick

Companies encounter a variety of challenges when it comes to marketing overseas. Marketing departments often don’t know much about the business and cultural context of the international audiences they are trying to reach. Sometimes they are also unsure about what kind of marketing they should be doing.

Cynthia Dearin

Author, business strategist, advisor

From unconscious to reflective: What level of data user are you?

Using data is a hot topic right now. Leaders are realising data can no longer just be the responsibility of dedicated analysts or staff with ‘data’ in their title or role description.

Dr Selena Fisk

Data expert, author

Sign in