What You Need to Know about Social CRM
Effectively tapping into the potential that social media holds, for a business or for a blog, is becoming more and more essential for a successful marketing strategy. For the purpose of this discussion, we will look at to the blog platform as a brand and its reader base as customers or consumers.
Customers Occupy Space Within a Social Media Network
It is still true within the blogosphere that ‘content is king,’ just like it is true for any brand that a product is a principle. However, the first step that must be taken before the first word is even written or the product is pitched, is to get to know and understand the community that you are writing for or marketing to.
So how do you get to know your reader or consumer base? In this very social world, we have access to countless information in forum communities and social media networks. Taking time to purposefully read through forums and social media discussions of your target group can help you understand what your desired customers or readers value.
You have to remember, though, that the very ‘social’ nature of these platforms points towards a specific engagement strategy: people engage to be social, not to be marketed to.
How to Engage a Social Network Customer Base
According to a 2010 survey of over 1000 consumers worldwide conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value, almost 80% had at least one social networking account to connect with people (not brands), and almost 50% had media sharing accounts, like Pinterest or Instagram, where they could share and access various media content. However, only 5% regularly responded to others’ posted content, the majority did not use social media to connect with brands, and those that did only connected to brands they were already loyal to, which was a prerequisite for the initial connection.
In other words, connecting a social network customer base to a brand (whether that be a business or blog) has to be social in nature and individually targeted. As author Carolyn Baird discuss from the same blog post above, “to successfully exploit the potential of social media, companies need to design experiences that deliver tangible value in return for customers’ time, attention, endorsement and data.” So for a business or a blog, the trick is to figure out what your customers or readers value, and then generate your social media engagement to deliver that value to them through a unique experience.
Remember that social customers want to be talked with, not talked at. For advice on how to build online relationships see our ‘how to’ blog post here.
Social Media Networks and Social CRM Tools
Because community-based environments have completely shifted the company/customer control dynamic – as the customer has the power to influence others in his or her social network – this customer base cannot be engaged in the same way as a non-social group. Put more simply, knowing your network is one thing, but effectively engaging them is another.
Social CRM Tools are a good way to bridge the gap. A Social CRM Tool, as opposed to conventional CRM, is not invested in “managing customers”, but instead helps a business to “facilitate collaborative experiences and dialogs that customers value”. There are many great Social CRM Tools out there, for example, those offered by Brand Embassy are particularly user-friendly and are offered on a free trial basis.
So why consider a Social CRM Tool? First things first, among many integral organizational features, one large benefit of Social CRM Tools is condensing an extensive amount of information from numerous social media networks into one convenient location, allowing you to keep your social customer base organized and accessible. Ideally you want this platform to be fully responsive and to allow you to monitor what your customers are saying and respond to them in a timely manner.
Furthermore, your Social CRM tool allows you to maintain a personal touch when responding to customers and allows you to develop a unified customer service voice and a concrete brand image. Not to mention that when customer comments and concerns never fall through the cracks, a company has a better chance of building brand loyalty.
A good Social CRM tool will also monitor inbound and outbound communications within analytics software, like a trends graph, so that you can analyze what is working, what isn’t working, and be able to strategize for future approaches.