What is Social CRM?

Social CRM

The past decade has seen social media experience phenomenal growth and it is now accepted as a valuable marketing tool. This has led many businesses to build and maintain a social presence which is complemented with content and is a major driver of traffic to a site.

There are numerous tools out there which can help with social media management and as with anything in life, some are better than others. Managing social can be a pain if carried out manually as it is time consuming.

However, a CMS can help with this as, nowadays, these contain comprehensive and powerful tools not only for content creation, but for managing relationships with customers. This is known as a CRM (customer relationship management) and can help to automate the mundane tasks associated with social media.

It’s important to note, at this stage, that the social CRM is first and foremost a strategy which is supported by tools, often technological. This is based around customer service and engagement, rather than sales alone.

Social media has altered the way that brands communicate with customers. Gone are the days of formal email complaints and stuffy corporate language, these days consumers expect a brand to have personality and for staff to speak to them in a more personal, one-to-one manner.

Consumers hold the power here as social is a consumer product, for the most part giving value to users, rather than businesses. Consumers who interact with a brand on social media are likely to ensure that when they complain, they do so on a public forum and this can be damaging for brands who slip up.

Social CRM

Social CRM is basically just an evolved version of a company’s customer service strategy and social media management. Within a CMS, social CRM is an automated system for managing relationships with customers and storing data “in an efficient and process-centric way,” according to Social Media Examiner.

This shouldn’t be confused with the company’s social intranet, if they have one, which is designed for employees who access the intranet, more than anything else.

Traditional CRM

As the graphic shows, the older model CRM was all about sales and marketing intended to move customers “up the pipeline” with the idea being that once they have received a great service, they will be back.

Social CRM

Looking again at the image, the difference in traditional CRM and social is that the latter places the customer in the centre of operation and recognises them as being the most important element.

This is due to the two-way nature of social media, which has essentially changed the way we do business around the globe. Rather than pushing a sales message forward, modern social CRM relies on this.

Difference between social CRM and social media management

Social CRM applies technology to social media and applies the principles of CRM at scale. It’s not a new product, it’s what CRM has always been, but applied to social and using enabling technologies to engage and collaborate with customers.

The process is driven by the customer, rather than sales and marketing, and this is the important distinction between older CRM models and social CRM. These days, consumers don’t tend to trust brands and advertising and would much rather trust the word of a friend as to whether a product or service is worth buying or engaging with.

Social CRM allows businesses to gain relevent and real-time insights into what their customers like by monitoring behaviour. It can also be used with a social intranet to monitor collaboration and productivity of employees.

The ‘social’ part describes the aspect to the CRM which deals with the social networking aspect to a company’s marketing activities. These days, having an application which can help to disseminate the huge amount of customer data that social produces is vital to maintaining a good social presence.

Understanding customer behaviours means that a company can then in turn understand what the customer wants and this helps to maintain customer service, a good experience and from a sales point of view, better targetting. This encourages both new and repeat business and is based upon the sound business model that is a CRM strategy.

Basically, what social CRM does is take conversations and engagement data from a company’s social media presence and allows for conversions of fans into customers. A CRM is a powerful tool and in these days of big data, an extremely useful one.

Social CRM:

  • Adds a new dimension to traditional CRM, as it focuses more on people than technology in order to gather valuable data
  • This data can be integrated into existing records held on the customer, giving a new dimension to customer intelligence
  • Helps a company to gain the trust of their followers
  • Provides unique customer insight not previously available

What can social CRM do?

It can monitor a company social media presence for conversations including positive and negative comments. The quicker a business can react to negative posts or questions is often vital with regard to how much damage has been done. Complaints happen, but a CRM can help businesses deal with in a timely manner, so that customers don’t get frustrated and feel that they are being treated badly.

Brands who ignore or delete negative comments (so long as they are valid and not abusive) run a very real risk of angering the customer and damaging their brand. Bad news spreads quickly across the internet and the last thing any company wants is widespread criticism.

However, these days it’s not so much the criticism, but the response, which is the most important. When a brand is seen to be doing everything that they can to respond to a complaint quickly and in a friendly manner, the damage can be reversed.

When a customer likes a page or follows a company on Twitter, this enables sales to contact them directly and new leads can also be discovered by offering competition prizes and special discounts through social channels.

This can lead to referrals and a company can also generate a ‘warm’ sales list, as well as encouraging fans to refer the company to a friend.

Basically, by monitoring social channels, a company effectively adds another sales pipeline which is as, if not more, effective than traditional channels. CRM can also generate welcome or sales emails that are based on analytics in order to personalise marketing mail for each customer, to some extent.

This kind of personalisation and friendly relationship with the customer is becoming increasingly more powerful. This is because social media has taken the power out of the hands of business and placed it more firmly in the consumer space.

Bearing this in mind, it’s easy to see the benefits of CRM, especially for larger companies who may have a huge following across many different social platforms.

Image credit: Chess Media Group

Kerry Butters

A prolific technology writer, Kerry was an authority in her field and produced content for a variety of high profile sites in her niche. Also a published author, she adored the written word and all things tech and internet related. Sadly she passed away in February 2016 after a valiant battle with cancer.

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