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Social CRM: Tips and Tools
Posted on July 27, 2012

AppAppeal not only offers reviews of web apps, but also offers you the opportunity to learn more about interesting topics, and how to effectively use web apps. This article focuses on Social CRM and the apps that can be used to implement Social CRM successfully into your business.
I will start off by talking about what it means to be a social company. I will continue with talking about CRM, explaining what it is and how it can be used in your company. I will then connect social and CRM, by elaborating on the term “social CRM”, and talk about online tools you can implement.

Being Social
The focus of customer service and customer engagement has shifted from the one-sided conversation through customer service and marketing to the two-sided conversation where the customer has the same amount of power, of even more power, as the company. This means that companies are forced to become social companies. Being social in your business means: letting go of some of the control you used to have of the conversation about your brand, and personally engage with customers by using several social media, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Studies have shown that companies that engage with their customers by using social media on average increase their sales by 16%.

The following 10 rules apply to social companies. Using these rules within your company will enable you to successfully use social media to engage with your customers:

  1. A social company actively listens to their customers’ wishes and uses social listening tools to know what the community is talking about. To listen actively means: respond to comments, include yourself within the conversation, and do something with the things that are discovered by listening.
    Listening tools:
    HootSuite, Klout, Socialbakers, Seesmic, Sprout Social, Nimble.
  2. A social company knows the rules of social media and webcare. This means being active and available at all times on different social media, using a different approach on every medium and using the rules of that medium. In other words: Facebook is not the same as Twitter, so you need to investigate how your company profiles itself on these different types of social media.
  3. A social company responds to every comment, positive or negative, in the same way and does not ignore criticism.
  4. A social company realizes that using social media successfully requires a long term commitment. Short term usage of social media is never effective.
  5. A social company has the same values and wishes its audience has.
  6. A social company does not just send tweets and post, they create content and are interesting to follow because they are an important part of the community.
  7. A social company has no trouble letting go some of the control they have over what people say about their company. This usually means that customers become more involved and start to care about the company.
  8. A social company offers different types of content: content meant to educate, content that can be used by the audience, entertaining content, rewarding content, or content that is interesting for the audience.
  9. A social company responds to questions that arise at any given moment, not just between 9 and 5.
  10. Quality matters, not quantity. Do not post 100 messages per week. The things that are shared need to be interesting to the community. The company’s posts are shown in the timeline of their followers and have to compete against tweets from their friends, family, and other companies, so every message that the company posts has to be able to compete with these other messages.

Headstream, a social brand agency, releases a list every year: Top 100 Social Brands. In their report you can read what experts of social brands believe to be the most important aspects of social branding.
These are the top social brands of 2012:
  1. Innocent
  2. Starbucks
  3. giffgaff
  4. Cancer Research UK
  5. British Red Cross
Interestingly, there are not just major commercial companies in this Top 5. A tip: find these companies on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and discover how there are engaging with their customers.

CRM stands for: Customer Relationship Management. It is used by many companies to structurize marketing and the managing of customer relationships. The developers of CRM understood that being personal, or coming across as being personal, with customers caused customers to feel connected with the company.
The definition of CRM is:CRM is a widely implemented model for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients, and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support. The overall goals are to find, attract, and win new clients; nurture and retain those the company already has; entice former clients back into the fold; and reduce the costs of marketing and client service.”

There are many CRM web apps, for example: SalesForce, Zoho CRM, Highrise, SohoOS, and ContactMe.

Social + CRM = Social CRM
Social CRM, social customer relationship management, is an extension of the much-used CRM. The general definition that is used by many CRM experts to describe Social CRM comes from Paul Greenberg: Social CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It's the company's response to the customer's ownership of the conversation.” A shorter, simpler version of this definition would be: “The company's response to the customer's control of the conversation.”
Jon Ferrara, founder of Nimble and an expert in the field, strongly believes in Social CRM: "Social CRM will require more culture change than technology.  The whole way customers select products and interact with companies as well as their expectations has radically transformed.  Businesses will need to rip down their "castle walls" that exist between them and their customers and empower their internal teams to listen and engage at a level unseen before."   

Social CRM combines Social and CRM, and uses social media as a channel to engage with people, learn about their passions, and discover how they can become customers. To learn about why your company needs to embrace Social CRM, read this article.

Examples of Social CRM web apps: Nimble, Sprout Social, Gist, Desk.

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