Beware of Hype: Social CRM in five steps

Beware Of Hype - constantchangeahead.comI do start here a series of posts related with very famous Hypes. Why did they not meet everybody’s expectations and how could they be transformed into success.  I  recently faced a professional advice request from a friend: “I want to do Social CRM, can you help me?” Yes, just continue reading this five simple steps.

At most of the companies, Social and CRM are two (very) different departments. Even digital is sometimes separated from Social. Let’s look from each perspective.

CRM (Consumer/Client/Customer Relationship Management) has always been related to data, or databases (originally for direct mail marketing). It’s very variable per category, but in most of them CRM equals to have a database with consumers and their contact information, used for communications (promotions, loyalty, cross selling, etc.).  This database can also store transactions (i.e. purchases, amounts, products), or just be a “list of contacts”. I’ve seen so many clients just storing their ‘CRM’ in an Excel spreadsheet…

When you’re asking the CRM manager to do social CRM they’re absolutely lost. They don’t know how to approach the media, they don’t know what information they can gather and they don’t know how to use it. Some categories, such as Insurance, can aggregate consumers into families, in order to understand the relationships between these clients (i.e. a young driver having a denial on his car insurance when his father has all his products with the same company is something very bad), but very few companies do actually try to gather (digital) social information and include it in their consumer/client profiles. On the other hand most of them do some analytics on them: understanding what consumers they have, how much do they spend, in what products, with what frequency. This allow them to create segments in order to provide different treatment. It’s the fundamentals of CRM, trying to treat each consumer differently than the rest (or at least, than other groups).

Social media is something quite newer than CRM (or not) and social media managers’ responsibility it is basically about creating, nurturing and managing the social media profiles, having a “conversation” with people (consumers or not), pushing content and implementing promotions in order to drive sales and engagement.

Dilbert on Social Media

When you ask the social media manager to do Social CRM, they freak out. Basically because, as we said early, CRM is about databases, and in Social Media we don’t own the platforms, so we can’t store information about people. Facebook has a big CRM, but it’s their CRM (and such huge amount of data is used for one single thing, monetize every user selling their related information for profiling or advertising).

So the first gap is organizational/functional, but the second is technical, CRM does databases, Social doesn’t, because the platforms are not owned. These are the two main reasons why Social CRM has been a hype.

Silly? Well, let’s see how to tackle the situation.

First of all, hire a CMO that understands the importance of sitting down these two people on the same table. You might need some technical advice, too, but don’t look for it in your CTO, he probably doesn’t know about social APIs.

Second, identify what information you can gather, programmatically (by automatic computer processing means),  from single users in your social networks. Every platform provides different kind of information. For example Twitter provides number of followers of a specific user,  activity (as content generators or retwitters)  and even the content itself, that you could analyze semantically in order to understand areas of interest, competitors, etc. Facebook for instance can provide you some data, but since it’s a private platform, it needs to be gathered with the user approval.

Third, select what information you would like to store in your CRM. For instance, the number of followers in twitter can give you an idea of the degree of influence for that user. Maybe he’s not very profitable, but has a high value in terms of recommendation to other people (the young driver of the insurance company). Sometimes social profiles can give you much more accurate information about the consumer profile (age, address, phone number…). Basically, you should get what you think you’re going to use. Sometimes getting these attributes can be painful, expensive and can irritate the consumer, so don’t fall in the “store-it-all” syndrome and keep only what you need.

Fourth, develop the mechanics in order to make your CRM consumers “connect” with their social profiles. For instance, an email campaign that gives a discount on your products if they give you their twitter account info. Or a Facebook app that asks for your info in exchange of a participation in a raffle. It is very important to determine what will be your unique identifier. The consumer could use different email addresses, so take it into account when creating your new attributes in the CRM database, you might need to store more than one email, even merge users that you thought were different.

Fifth, refresh the social information from time to time. It’s not something that will dramatically change over time, but once you have the social profiles and consumer approval, refreshing the info, let’s say monthly,  will make you more accurate when communicating to them, particularly if you are segmenting your CRM based on social attributes (i.e. the top influencers).

Have you implemented Social CRM? Would you like to? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, and stay tuned for more ‘Beware of Hype’ posts.


2 Comments on “Beware of Hype: Social CRM in five steps”

  1. […] The three golden rules of QR codes (with examples) Beware of Hype: Social CRM in five steps […]


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