Marketing, sales, and customer service departments alike can benefit from social networking. Thankfully, social CRM platforms and applications exist to streamline and automate the process.
Traditional CRM systems are used to organize and track contacts, store lead information, and automate some sales and marketing processes. Social CRM consolidates customer-related information and processes, just as a traditional CRM platform would, but it also uses Web 2.0 applications as avenues for reaching out to customers and for mining consumer data.
At its base, social CRM entails the integration of data pulled from social media and other conversational platforms and uses CRM analytics to determine social media ROI and to articulate market trends. It’s a process for monitoring, engaging in, and managing conversations and relationships with existing and prospective customers and influencers across the Internet, social networks, and digital channels. Social CRM is very much supplementary to traditional CRM processes, as it aims to engage communities and foster the creation of content for a targeted market, converting content into conversations and collaborative experiences that will hopefully build meaningful relationships with customers. In many ways, social CRM is traditional CRM with the bonus of social media/conversational data analysis and management.
Most major CRM vendors (Salesforce.com, Oracle, NetSuite) are offering social media management functionalities through modules that integrate with their existing CRM platforms — this is the basic model, and it can range from a simple Twitter integration to a complex dashboard for complete community management. The other social CRM model involves a number of social CRM vendors whose platforms focus almost exclusively on customer relationship management through social networks. These social CRM products were developed with community engagement and online communication in mind and are less process-centric than the aforementioned social CRM platforms. Some of these products are standalone platforms, but nonetheless they are usually integrative with major CRM platforms.
Social CRM platforms can help teams across an enterprise map different campaigns and initiatives, manage campaigns across different social media platforms, and gain better insight into customers’ general online behavior. Sales departments can mine social media data for information directing them to leads, as well as communicate with existing customers through these platforms to bolster customer loyalty.
Customer service teams can use social CRM to respond to customers more quickly — leveraging the Twitter API, for example, can allow customer support providers to reach out to distressed clients moments after they tweet a complaint (which they may do before formally reaching out to customer support). Marketers can benefit from connecting directly with existing and potential customers through various networks, and with the help of social media analytics, they can organize that data so that it is actionable. They can map consumer trends, follow conversations, and get a better read on their audience overall.
No matter what type of social CRM platform you’re looking for — and both models have their merits — any good social CRM solution will include the following: