Social CRM – an user guide

Barack Obama – the current president and chief executive of the United States launched his re election bid at Facebook headquarters. On the 20th of April he will be addressing people on the issues facing the American economy there. If that is not one of the strongest endorsements of the importance of social networking and Facebook in particular – nothing else is! It also is one of the best ways to engage with the polity, the market, the stakeholders in a two way communication in real time. Obama knows this and has been one of the best users of this technology when he came about the first time around. Today two-thirds of the world’s Internet population visits social networking or blogging sites, accounting for almost 10% of all internet time, according to a new Nielsen report “Global Faces and Networked Places.” If data captured from December 2007 through December 2008 is any indication, that percentage is likely to grow as time spent on social network and blogging sites is growing more than three times the rate of overall Internet growth. “Social networking has become a fundamental part of the global online experience,” commented John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen Online. “While two-thirds of the global online population already accesses member community sites, their vigorous adoption and the migration of time show no signs of slowing.”

Global growth in Facebook numbers.

 There is so much buzz about social CRM these days. Companies like Intuit, Procter & Gamble and Citigroup have embraced it in a big way. Gartner is now devoting magic quadrants to it and a slew of companies have raced into this emerging field. According to Gartner, social CRM – the integration of CRM with the organization’s social media exchange will be a $1 billion subsector of the CRM market by the end of this year. The various sites, blogs and communities that comprise this arena represent the fastest growing areas of the Internet. Further, it now reaches more people than email, according to Nielsen Online.

What then is Social CRM and what are the components? A little while ago Chess Media Group  in collaboration with Mitch Lieberman, developed the following image which I believe is a great starting point for visualizing Social CRM within an organization — a sort of Social CRM “map” if you will.

the Social CRM Process

If you look at the image  you will see that this is about a flow of information and it flows in the following way:

  • The community provides feedback via offline or online channels.
  • If the channel is online then it is monitored and picked up by a “listening” tool, which then integrates with a CRM system to provide customer information. If the channel is offline then it goes directly into a CRM system.
  • The information collected is automatically routed to the proper person in the proper department (several vendors are in the process of working on this to make it happen, others have some form of this developed already).
  • Once the person receives the information they can decide how to respond which will either be a macro response (public) or a micro response (private), or both.
  • The response is funneled through business rules which will dictate how and where the response will take place.
  • The response is once again captured by the CRM system so that the record is complete.

Paul Greenberg, Author of “CRM at the Speed of Light” says that “Social CRM is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.”

Brent Leary a noted blogger in this space compares traditional CRM and Social CRM: “And with multiple people “touching” the customer for various reasons, it quickly became important to be able to track activities, appointments, potential deals, notes, and other information.  Consequently, traditional CRM grew out of this need to store, track, and report on critical information about customers and prospects.

The points of social interaction

Social CRM is growing out of a completely different need — the need to attract the attention of those using the Internet to find answers to business challenges they are trying to overcome. Businesses began investing in CRM applications in the ‘90s mainly to store contact data.  Before contact management software was available, businesses had to store their valuable customer information in Rolodexes, spreadsheets, and even filing cabinets.  It was important to have a central location to store the data that was also easily accessible to communicate effectively with contacts.  And with multiple people “touching” the customer for various reasons, it quickly became important to be able to track activities, appointments, potential deals, notes, and other information.  Consequently, traditional CRM grew out of this need to store, track, and report on critical information about customers and prospects.

Nothing captivates the attention of searchers like relevant, compelling content.  Having the right content, and enough of it, will help connect you with those needing your product or service.  Creating content in formats that make it easy for your target audience to consume it increases the probability that you will move them to action — starting a conversation 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. Social CRM is a part of social business that helps companies make sense of (and then act on) the data they collect from social customer interactions. 

The Use Cases for social CRM - why we need it?

Already, hundreds of vendors populate this space. Some offer little more than a widget while others attempt to roll social CRM in with traditional customer relationship management (CRM) or call center tools. Some call it social media monitoring or add some data mining tools and call it social media analytics.

According to Gartner analyst Adam Sarner, those who are currently ahead of the pack are Jive Software and Lithium Technologies. Jive offers collaboration software, social media monitoring and community software under the umbrella of its Jive Engage Platform. It recently added four Jive Apps Market features to enable faster development of social media tools on this platform, ease of purchasing, simplified billing and enhanced revenue sharing capabilities. “Jive Apps Market will change the economics of how developers market and sell the next generation of social business applications,” said Robin Bordoli, vice president of product management for Jive Apps. Lithium offers a similar suite with an emphasis on finding and engaging your most supportive customers. It ties together Facebook, Twitter, the social Web and branded communities.

Just about everyone is getting into the race these days. SugarCRM has added social features, but allows users to decide how they leverage social data and channels inside the Sugar system. For example, SugarCRM users can now monitor Twitter streams of contacts or accounts, as well as uncover leads and relationship data from networks like LinkedIn and place it into the CRM record. “The idea is not to limit users with prescribed notions of social CRM interaction management, but to provide simple tools for leveraging social channels and data to foster better interactions with customers,” said Martin Schneider, senior director of marketing at SugarCRM. “In social CRM, Oracle and have potentially the deepest pockets, so it is no surprise that they have been talking up social features for some time.” However, he thinks that rigidity is present in their systems, as they are based either on older software code or they are lacking open multi-tenant features. That’s why he agrees with Gartner that Lithium and Jive are far ahead of both of these providers when it comes to inbound or outbound collaboration and community building. Schneider also likes RightNow’s approach, which focuses on customer experience rather than core collaboration or social media marketing tools. “We have not seen much social CRM talk out of Microsoft either,” said Schneider. “Microsoft Dynamics CRM is still finding its legs in terms of traditional CRM, cloud-based deployment and a channel-led go-to-market strategy, so social might just be on the back-burner at this time.”

The suitability & adoption of the use cases.

What are the key components then of Social CRM? Carie Lewis, Director of Emerging Media, Online Communications, Humane Society of the United States says that “..Listening is the first step in social media. You have to listen to what others are saying about you before you jump into the fire. Listening will tell you what people are saying, and where they are saying it, so you know where to get started….” In her blog she suggest tools to do this free for the NGO. Many of these tools are Twitter-focused, because Twitter is the easiest place to get started in listening.

There are today technical solutions both free and paid that aid the ‘listening’. A list of 9 social media tracking and monitoring tools are brief discussed here. Some are paid-for and some are free. Many can be used together, and some integrate with others to maximize efficiency, tracking and response time. Enjoy, and do let me know of others you think should be on this list.

Radian6 has a flexible dashboard that enables monitoring all kinds of social media with real-time results. Radian6 helps you to identify influencers, measure engagement, and determine which conversations are having an impact online. One great feature is the ability to identify an opportunity and, send it directly to the person who should respond. This is the hottest company in this space and was recently acquired by for $326 million.

Meltwater Buzz This is also a paid social media-monitoring tool to monitor blogs, social networks, forums, etc for brand monitoring and tracking. Meltwater enables sentiment tracking, geographical monitoring and keywords. The interface for Meltwater is great, and they allow for geo-tagging and analytics.

SocialCast A paid for enterprise collaboration tool that connects your companyʼs data, people and resources in real-time, much like how Facebook updates. It makes information management and collaboration easier through; micro-blogs, activity streams, groups, calendars, employee profiles, etc.

Salesforce Chatter For those of you using here is a great addition to support Sales and Marketing alignment. Chatter (beta testing now) promises to help you connect and share in real-time by way of live feeds, micro-blogs, groups, employee profiles. It acts much like these other enterprise collaboration tools, but it’s heavily integrated with your CRM and related activities. Expect to see some massive integration with the Radian6 suite mentioned earlier and now acquired by

SocialText A company out of Palo Alto sas some paid and some free versions of its tools. Like the collaboration tools above, social text incorporates micro-blogging, wiki workspaces, blogs, groups and social networking to improve and enable enterprise collaboration.

Google Alerts Google alerts are free email alert updates of the latest relevant Google search results for web, and news based on your choice of keywords, or topics. You can choose to receive alerts daily, weekly, or as it happens.

Twitter Search is Twitter’s search module and it is free, and allows you to search keywords or hash tags in real-time and get a live feed of status updates. You can also search by location. Twitter search really makes it easy to pull real-time results, at anytime. Most 3rd party twitter tools, such as hootsuite, have integrated the Twitter search into their application, so it can all be done in one interface.

Hootsuite a Canadian company this letʼs you monitor your brand and other searches, schedule tweets, integrates with other social networks, lets you tract statistics and enables team workflow so you can manage multiple accounts, and multiple users.

gURLs Genius URLs are an easy way to track your social media conversations back to revenue. By using these shortened urls in your tweets, blog posts, and facebook fan pages, you can see the engagement history of people once they convert from anonymous to known visitors or prospects on your site. This information can help you better score and nurture your prospects.

What is Social IRM? The Ad Agencies take (influence relationship management) and the Brand view.

Social IRM, a construct from Ogilvy Digital is the discipline of managing relationships between influencers and brands. It’s built on the principles of social media – respect, trust, and a true value exchange between brand and influencer. The goal of Social IRM is to activate genuine word of mouth online at a scale that can positively impact business.

John Bell at Ogilvy Digital, an agency around matters social opines in his blog that Social Media is not a channel do not start jamming content or ads down customers throats without understanding the ‘value exchange’ necessary to earn the customers attention and participation.

Ogilvys Social IRM

Social media after all is not just a growing collection of technologies allowing all to communicate, share, create and publish but also for people who have discovered a new platform to express themselves and form connection and interactions with others who share some affinity no matter however niche

Ultimately, everything social media enables is a new form of word of mouth and word of mouth trumps most other forms of communication in influence on many purchase decisions and opinions. For brands therefore social media is an imperative to embrace in any way they can the power of word of mouth.

The objective ought to be to help customers, enthusiasts’, fans, “strangers with expertise” share about products and the topics and ideas that bring together customers and the brand. “..We want people to search in Google and find the endorsements of our advocates – third parties who say our products are good because they are. Who are these third parties and how do we engage them so that they will authentically want to share? They are the new influencers….” Bell says. Today management of the customer relationship with those influencers is what is driving the adoption of Social CRM.

About Soumya
A technology enthusiast, forever enamored by all that it hath wrought and of course here is an attempt at making sense of it all and perhaps simplifying it!

3 Responses to Social CRM – an user guide

  1. Trish F. says:

    You’ve given your readers a very thorough guide to Social CRM and taken it a step further with your introduction to Social IRM. Very beneficial for those yearning to know more. Thanks for including Radian6!

    All the best,
    Trish (@Dayngr)
    Community Manager | Radian6

    • Soumya says:

      Thanks Trish for a kind reading of my effort – the subject is pretty vast to be able to do justice in a one size fits all blog post, but here goes nothing!! I must say that Radian 6 is really good and probably deserves every penny of what SFDC has put into it – you picked this up more or less instantly!

  2. Trish Forant says:

    Soumya, thanks for your kind words! Keep writing great posts.

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