By Claire Weekes, senior reporter, UTalkMarketing
These days savvy brands don’t just use social media to create a buzz – they are using it to generate actual sales. For the boldest (or at least richer) brands amongst us, that may mean building a full on social commerce strategy, a topic we have visited previously. But monetising social media activity doesn’t have to mean building a sales platform within a social network. By closely aligning your social media and CRM strategies, you can boost the performance of your social activity and start to generate ROI directly from it.
Here we look at some tip tips on how to achieve ‘social CRM’.
Get social on your own website
“Social CRM allows businesses to track and react to every customer interaction, transaction and conversation”, says David Bashford, director at social business specialist Siteforum. Bashford suggests that by encouraging customers to create a profile on your website, you can both collect valuable personal information and at the same time interact on a personal level, assessing real-time responses to content that is uploaded onto your site.
“Provide a special offer or incentive for your customers building a profile on your site and encourage peer-to-peer interaction by enabling your internal social CRM system to link with Facebook and Twitter, allowing customers to share information,” Bashford suggests.
“Your main objective should be to entice people into your brand and your website, but there is a lot to be gained from creating advocates of your brand in your own territory and then allowing them to influence their friends. All data is captured through the social CRM modules linked to the portal database, so in this sense the company can search all of this information as usual”.
Give power to the people
The difference between CRM and social CRM is the fact that the former has always been tightly controlled internally, by the sales and marketing team. Social CRM gives the customer a greater element of participation.
“If there is a direct channel to the brand or business which the customer is able to use easily, in their own time, they will do it, and it provides the business with an opportunity to recognise the customer’s issue and deal with it accordingly, negating the need for people to publicly declare their dissatisfaction with a company’s service,” says Bashford.
"Use social CRM as a real-time feed for valuable one-to-one interaction and find a platform that is easy to implement and simple to manage which will enable quicker, direct and transparent interaction with customers, helping to improve customer satisfaction and ultimately CRM.”
Think privately as well as publicly
It’s all too easy to focus on the opportunities that public-facing social networks provide, but closed networks offer plenty of opportunity to socialise CRM too. “Projects and ideas can be shared easily between internal groups and departments and even opened up to contractors and customers for input. Having a central place to chat and share is particularly valuable to large or remote groups and organisations,” says John Hayes EMEA business development executive for email and social media marketing company, iContact.
“By placing “social chatter” directly into the workflow of group members, for example when a user initially logs into a CRM system, it ensures greater efficiency in terms of eyeballs on content and visibility into project contribution. Items are no longer buried on corporate wikis or intranets and the “real-time” nature of discussion ensures a more creative and productive process. In short it takes the guesswork out of project management and ensures all stakeholders’ voices are heard in an open environment,” he adds.
The popularity of Facebook’s own social graph tool is now prompting brands to build their very own, so that they can identify and target their key influencers. “Recent research [suggests] that in any social graph there are most often just a handful of key influencers,” says Andries Smit, founder of B2B buying site SME Discounts. “They are not necessarily the most popular of followed individuals, but if they move, everybody moves with them.”
Whether you’re a big brand attracting thousands of comments and conversations around you per day, or more small-fry and attracting tens to hundreds, it’s essential to have a monitoring system in place that will categorise comments in a way that measures sentiment.
“Find out who among your customers are the most influential in social media and design special programs for them that build your brand and drive sales,” suggests Jesse Engle, vice president of social media at agency ExactTarget. “Establish key word alerts about your brand and use geo-tagging to identify prospects in the area,” he adds.
Be social, but not TOO social
Of course as with any aspect of social media monitoring, there is always a question over what is morally and legally acceptable when it comes to data capture to feed into a CRM strategy. “Integrating consumer data in social media to individual accounts in CRM systems offers tremendous value, but also the biggest potential for privacy mishaps,” warns Josh March, CEO of social media management system, Conversocial.
“In my opinion, the best solution is for brands to do more to integrate social media into their core offerings, so that when consumers purchase a product or service they are also connected with the brand through social media. This would allow the brand to accurately match social media profiles with their own customer records.”
“Brands should keep in mind that consumers are not always aware what data has been made public. For example, when Pandora Radio automatically shared users’ music preferences via Facebook, they assumed people would want to share their music interests with their Facebook friends without explicitly consulting them. This resulted in a backlash from consumers,” adds Engle.
But is it up to the consumer to keep up with privacy issues too? Jessica Knowlton Bell, social media and email marketing manager at agency Peach Digital thinks that while brands should be mindful that they don’t cross ethical boundaries, and issues with online data capture for market research should be well advertised, consumers also have a responsibility to think about what they are comfortable sharing on networks before they willingly type that information in.
“[Customers should] stay ahead by only displaying basic information which they feel comfortable revealing to networks, and possibly, marketers,” she says.
Attend the Digital Brand Strategy Summit where this year we will focus on social business – the hot topic amongst thought leaders around the globe.
It’s now clear that the impact of social media goes far deeper than viral videos, Twitter or even Facebook. Social techniques are changing not just the way that brands market themselves, but the way that companies do business. Attend DBSS on November 22 to learn from and network with the best. Click here for more details.
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