Social CRM: The Official Buzzword of 2010

If 2009 was the breakthrough year for social media monitoring, then social CRM is most definitely the buzzword of 2010. I suppose it’s only logical that, once companies...

If 2009 was the breakthrough year for social media monitoring, then social CRM is most definitely the buzzword of 2010. I suppose it’s only logical that, once companies have started listening to customers, learning all about their tastes and interests and finding out who their friends are, the next question the CEO is going to ask is: “So, how are we going to USE all this data?”

Social CRM is seen as the answer, but that simple term belies a panoply of troublesome issues that companies are going to have to overcome before the “social” and “CRM” can truly be integrated. Imagine, for a moment, that you’re the CEO of a national car dealership… First off, how can you track and store the millions of conversations going on around the world, or (much harder) in a specific town? How do you know that @snoop_dog5 is, in fact, John Dixon of 5 New Way, Cambridge, who bought a top-of-the-range BMW from your company last year? How do you capture that forum conversation about optional extras that BMW drivers most desire? What tools and solutions should you be using and, critically, which department of your organisation should be driving your social CRM strategy?

The first of these question is the easiest one. There are hundreds of social media monitoring solutions on the market and they are all seeking to either integrate with existing CRM solutions (such as Salesforce or Oracle’s Siebel) or develop their own CRM features. Somewhat predictably many are also being acquired by CRM companies). So you really need to be looking for a top-of-the-range monitoring solution that integrates nicely with your existing CRM solution. Alternatively you could migrate to a new CRM solution that does social better. Of course, that’s not going to be easy.

The issue of identifying your customers within the socialmediasphere is rapidly becoming less daunting than it first appears. Alongside social media monitoring, the social data mining industry is booming and there are lots of innovative companies – such as Dan Martell’s Flowtown – which can analyse your database and, for a fee, identify the social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook etc.) of your customers. If you’re looking for new customers, there are equally clever companies, like Chase McMichael’s Infinigraph, that track social media engagements around specific industries or topics and enable you to connect with people who are likely to be interested in what you’re offering. This isn’t CRM as we know it. If anything  it’s predictive CRM. As Chase points out, many of the conversations people have about your products never mention your company or related keywords (it’s an inherent failure of keyword-based monitoring), so contextual monitoring has a major role to play in social CRM.

Although many don’t, lots of the leading monitoring solutions enable companies to record and store the conversations they find. The fear of conversation overload is genuine, but usually exaggerated. At our London monitoring Bootcamp earlier this year, Giles Palmer (CEO, Brandwatch) explained how one major client received 100,000 mentions over a 6 month period, but that only 4500 were worth reviewing and less than 2% required a response. That’s manageable within a CRM system.

When it comes to choosing  tools and solutions – while you might find your monitoring/CRM solution enables you to listen, monitor, analyse, respond and store your social media engagements, the chances are it won’t work for ALL your objectives. Even the best monitoring tools aren’t as good as TweetDeck or Hootsuite for engaging in real-time conversations and managing multiple Twitter accounts.  You’ll probably need to accommodate some third party solutions within your social CRM strategy.

Possibly the hardest question for anyone implementing a social CRM strategy is “who should be driving it?” Social CRM has the potential to impact heavily on sales, marketing, communications, research, development AND strategy, so there are endless possibilities for inter-departmental scuffling and territorial hot potatoes. To help companies overcome these issues, Accenture helpfully published a social CRM report earlier this year that, rather unsurprisingly, suggests you hire in a Management Consultant to help you work through this thorny issue. If it’s anything like the adoption of social media – which, in order to succeed, requires patience and enthusiasm in equal measure – I would suggest allowing the team that’s most committed to making it work to drive your social CRM strategy.

So, implementing social CRM isn’t going to be a bed of roses. Equally, however, it’s likely to be easier than we might fear. The hardest bit (as with social media in general) will be convincing the nay-sayers that there’s value in it. Until we can measure ROI end-to-end, from Tweet to receipt, the question of value will continue to hamper progress. In the end I suspect that this in itself will be the greatest hurdle to the successful adoption of social CRM within companies.

We’re going to be discussing Social CRM in San Francisco on 17th September at Social Email Marketing. We’re also going to be looking at the integration of social media monitoring solutions and Social CRM at Monitoring Social Media (Boston), Monitoring Social Media (San Franscisco) and Monitoring Social Media (New York) later this year. See all our social media marketing events.

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  1. Jon Ferrara Reply

    Hi Luke,

    I enjoyed your post about Social Monitoring and how it affects CRM. I agree that businesses are awakening to the need to more effectively Listen & Engage. I don’t think what we are talking about is anything new however. I’ll argue that business has been #Social since the beginning of time. The only thing new is that Social Media is providing a platform that we can all do what we should have all been doing all along. Listening and engaging with our constituencies.

    The key difference that will make Social CRM effective is adding the culture shift of combining External Listen/Engage with Internal Communicate/Collaborate interwoven into an elegant Relationship Platform for teams. We need to rip down the walls between our internal departments; sales, marketing, support, admin ect. We also need to rip down the wall between our companies and its customers. To get the internal collaboration done and to empower everyone in a company to be able to listen/engage with its constituencies will require a bit of a culture shift as today it’s mainly the sales people who touch the customer.

    I believe all of this can be wrapped into a simple, elegant dare I say Nimble product…

    Stay tuned.


    Jon Ferrara
    CEO Nimble

  2. Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

    Thanks Jon. Nimble looks to be in just the right space. Hope you can make it along to one of the conferences and join the discussion.

  3. Chuck Van Court Reply

    Hi Luke, I posted a comment several hours ago and do not see it.

    Just checking to see if there was a problem with my post.

    Thanks, Chuck

  4. Chuck Van Court Reply

    Hey Luke:

    Good article.

    No offense intended, but something that you and everyone else seems to gloss over when it comes to Social Monitoring (SM) tools is just how vital it is to assess the search, filtering and distribution capabilities of the tool. With literally billions of potential “mentions” to deal with, these aspects are absolutely key to the effectiveness and efficiency of any SM tool.

    We see the same thing regarding how almost all analysts and SW buyers just assume that search technology used for KB and community content must all work about the same. But nothing could be further from the truth and if the stakeholder can’t find the desired content quickly, nothing else really matters

    In the case of SM tools, people need to answer three questions:

    1. Does it find all potential “mentions” on the Web relating to my brand?

    2. Is it able to filter the results to a manageable level?

    3. Can it effectively assess “mentions” and distribute them to the right people? ….at least most of the time.

    Once the right staff are assigned responsibility for engaging the person originating the mention, the SM solution needs to manage the engagement, which includes having ready access to other relevant information and where appropriate transitioning the person to systems optimized for providing support.

    Because the core competencies of SM and these backend support software solutions are so different and immature – the social aspects of eService at least – I believe that buyers are generally best off integrating best-of-breed SM and support solutions rather than looking to find a single solution optimized for both capabilities.

    Chuck Van Court
    CEO and founder, FuzeDigital

  5. Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

    Thanks Chuck. Fair comment. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m very aware of how important it is to find and configure a monitoring solution that can produce accurate results. Brandwatch (mentioned in my post) prides itself on the quality of the data it produces, which involves hugely complex search queries and lots of data filtering. I agree though – it’s early days for monitoring and social CRM. Lots to talk about over the coming couple of years.

  6. E - B Reply

    Hi Luke,

    I’m in my final year at uni where I’m currently writing a report on Social Media Analysis.

    I was wondering if you help verify something for me..
    I have been looking at companies such as Alterian, Radian6, Nielsen, Lithium (Scout Labs), and Marketwire (Syosomos) etc. I am a little confused the difference (i.e. is it a product or a service, is it web based software, are selling the product to a individuual company or for another analysis company to use for many companies etc? )
    Also, where does SAS social media analysis fall into it??

    Your knowledge would be much appreciated!

  7. Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

    Hi Erin. Good question. Most if not all of the companies you’ve mentioned offer web-based solutions plus extra consultancy services to help you configure the monitoring tool to your specific needs and do analysis. Many of them (certainly Sysomos and Synthesio) offer a multi-dashboard option designed specifically to enable agencies to manage monitoring reports for multiple clients. Some companies, like Integrasco, focus on providing analysts and insight, rather than tools, while some of the high-end solutions, like Nielsen BuzzMetrics, require training and support from analysts to use them properly. The more user-friendly solutions – such as Scoutlabs – don’t require any training or consultancy. Hope that’s helpful. I suggest you join our Monitoring Social Media LinkedIn Group and ask the same question there. Prepare to be inundated with advice!

  8. You monitor social media. Now what? / we are social Reply

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