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Why Social CRM Needs to Be Less About the Social and More About the Customers

Posted Under: Social Media
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Kevin Troy DarlingToday’s guest post is by Kevin Troy Darling, Social Media Program Manager at iLinc Web Conferencing, who has been writing all his life, but only marketing pays.

To paraphrase Tina Turner, we don’t need another acronym. The debate on Social CRM (sCRM) could easily become a distraction. We have many good tools at our disposal right now we could be putting to use. As marketers, we need to reach our customers where they are and social media’s potential in that regard is unquestionable.

In his post, Social CRM is Just the Beginning, Brian Solis writes:

I believe that among the chief attributes of social media, the ability to identify active communities of relevance, trace channels and voices of influence, and also discern and dissect the various stages of decision making, all in real-time, is nothing short of profound and transformational.

But marketers have always reached out to communities in many forms, and each new medium has taken its turn as Holy Grail for customer influence. With social media, we can join conversations previously hidden, but what we need is the same as ever:  a way to reach you – the places you metaphorically live, the clubs you frequent, the places you hang out, the company you keep.

Leaving the etiquette alone for now, our focus is how marketers need to approach our targets. Adding a Twitter field to your contact records is only a start. The sales or support representative should speak directly through whatever medium the contact prefers.

Social CRMHowever, for marketers, a social media address is insufficient to manage that channel. We need to relate that contact to the networks where they participate, which requires we build programs tailored to each of those channels. Foremost, we need a way to convert with whom we interact in social media into real prospects. To do so efficiently requires a good database solution and marketing automation and filtration tools that incorporate social media intrinsically.

Who We Are Depends on Where You Reach Us

Software vendors are realizing that the social media is more than just a networking fad – CB radio for the Millennials – but rather represents a society living in multiple locations at once. Just as e-mail marketers learned to adapt as people evolved from sharing one e-mail address to having multiple e-mail addresses, today’s marketers need to address the many different social spheres individuals may inhabit.

If we can reliably identify a person across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Yelp and elswhere, we can then segment not only for the demographics of the consumer in question; we can tailor content for the mode they are in where we reach them. The B2B prospect hanging out on Facebook Sunday night behaves differently and has different information needs than the same person reading e-mail on Monday morning.

Be a Hunter, Not a Gatherer

Now, more than ever you have to know the psychographic and demographic profile of your potential customers. You’re in hunting mode, looking for tracks and setting lures. If you’re not clear about what data is important to you, you’ll waste significant effort.

If you were going to run an ad in a magazine, you would ask about both the psychographics and demographics of the reader so you could target the call to action and message appropriately. With social media, the audience is in multiple modes – participating in many threads. You need to know if your audience reads both Architectural Digest and Four Wheeler. That means developing a messaging matrix.

The way to do this practically is to borrow a technique from social media and use tagging. Pick a set of psychographic properties that are predictive of future customer value. Group them into personas related to the tagged characteristics. Write your messaging to the personas and build your lists based on the tags.

With this planning, it is easier to define your automation requirements. Tagging contacts in your CRM system requires nothing more sophisticated than one or two multi-select lists on your contact record. Ideally, you also want a way to import the tags already available on user profiles.

At this point, we should give up the navel-gazing debates on which are the most appropriate acronyms, and focus on solutions that allow us to start conversations in social media. We don’t need sCRM for social media anymore than we needed pCRM for phones, or eCRM for e-mail.

(photo collage by Dan Taylor)

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