I’m Just About Twittered Out

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I’ve been involved with CRM and SFA for about 15 years now. A good portion of that time has been spent promoting, implementing and developing software. It wasn’t until I read CRM at the Speed of Light, by Paul Greenberg, that I realized something was wrong (with me…oh, and maybe my customers).

Unfortunately, life keeps plowing forward, and there was too much baggage to switch trains at that time. Over the past five years, though, I’ve had more time to ponder all of this and as soon as I started to really get it…along came Social CRM!

I’ve already publicly stated that I don’t really get the “social” reference. CRM is CRM in my opinion. New tools and channels don’t really change that. But, I decided to sign up for Facebook (been on LinkedIn in since the first 100,000 users) and Twitter recently. OK, I’ll keep Facebook because I can share pictures of my 2 year old with family and old friends….

But Twitter, this is blowing my mind and giving me carpal tunnel syndrome at the same time. I dove in with a vengeance just to see what it was all about. I urgently type meaningless messages in, put search criteria in to watch all the buzz about CRM (and Barbecue), and I even attempted to engage a few folks in a dialogue. This is where it breaks down for me.

One social media evangelist actually gave up on our discussion stating something like “the threading in Twitter makes it impossible to follow @mikeboysen.” So, what we have is something similar to newsgroups or forums, except that there are space limitations on your posts, and it’s nearly impossible to follow a conversation (at least using TweetDeck). By the way, I’ve been doing searches on forum posts for a long time using Google Alerts, so I’m having a hard time making the distinction between Tweeting and traditional Forums.

There are consultants flowing into this social media craze at an alarming rate (maybe I’ll jump on the bandwagon!). There’s a lot of talk about protecting your brand through integrating your CRM software and corporate website with the “social web”. I think for large companies with well known brands, monitoring this social web and recruiting advocates to protect you is probably a necessary evil in the near future. I’m wondering whether that will apply to the middle market companies I’ve worked with over the years. Will they really need to do this? Are people really tweeting up a storm about them?

I can see things are going to change. But, I’ve got tennis elbow (in my non-tennis arm) from all this tweeting and I’m getting burned out on typing and trying to follow what others are Twittering about. I’m looking forward to technologies that allow my clients to interact more effectively with their clients. Will it look like Twitter? I certainly hope not.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I am sorry Mike, I have to disagree to your views.

    Twitter is just about breaking into the main stream (or has it already?) and there are a lot of tweets flying about brands & businesses.

    It makes a lot of sense for the biz to have a handle on this channel in addition to all the other major social web channels.

    It doesn’t matter if you did not “get” Twitter or that social media evangelist did not think much about it. If your client’s customers are on twitter, it makes sense to have a finger on the pulse in this world.

    It might be that your clients’ customers are not much into twittering about your customer or even your clients’ biz domain, but if their customers are on Twitter & use it heavily, then it makes enormous sense to engage with them in the medium of their choice. May be there are no customers but only leads or even prospects? Even then it makes perfect sense to get onto Twitter.

    First rule of engaging with the customer in social web – fish were the fish are. It means go where the community exists.

  2. When two guys can go from obscurity to fame (and a book deal) with their recipe for a “Bacon Explosion” using Twitter this is certainly a medium that can be powerful.

    My point is that not every company has a worldwide brand. In fact, most businesses do not. Taking time out of the business day to react to what equates to anarchy would soon prove to be fruitless. If someone does Tweet about a smaller company, it’s not going to explode. Sorry, I just don’t see this happening in the middle market. Many of these companies don’t even have organized marketing groups. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, but as of right now, I’m not.

    I realize an industry of social CRM consultants and strategists is being cultivated and I fully expect to hear more about this (of course). But, CRM is CRM.

    Twitter has so little structure that I don’t see how anyone can truly incorporate risk management into a Twitter plan. And if they can, it would cost more than most of the clients I’ve worked with are willing to pay. Frankly, it drives me crazy watching Tweets all day.

    Not everyone deals with Fortune 1000 companies who have well known brands to protect. But, even there, I would find it humorous watching an army of Twits sitting in cubicles attempting to protect the rear flank.

    This isn’t a rant on Social Media / Social CRM. This is a Twitter rant.

    Mike Boysen
    Effective CRM Consulting

  3. No customers, no use following the channel or location. Simple.

    As I already said in my previous comment, if the customers are not there, it doesn’t make sense to be there.

    But if it is a personal choice (as was mine) then whats the point stopping your client from tweeting about what they ate?

    Cheers,
    Prem

  4. Hi Mike

    I enjoyed your post. It is always refreshing to hear a carefully thought through point of view that goes against the widely accepted norm.

    Where I would challenge your post is your statement that “CRM is CRM”. CRM has evolved over the past 10 years from traditional CRM where we do things to customers (because we can), to CEM where we do things for customers (because we now recognise that we need exchange value over the end-to-end customer lifecycle), to Customer CoCreation where we do things with customers (because this creates even more value). CRM is no longer Just CRM, at least not the CRM your metaphorical father knew!

    The biggest change during this evolution is the recognition that customers are the most powerful influencers of other customers. Not marketers, not marketing, but customers. Many marketers still haven’t woken up to this fact. Like the mobile telco marketers I worked with recently who despite fresh marketing research showing that customers were the main influencer of telco, handset and service plan selection, just continued planning mass market campaigns as though nothing had happened!

    Smart marketers are waking up to the power of customer conversations through a wide variety of Social CRM tools such as Facebook, Myspace (particularly for Music), Twitter, blogs and many others. The marketer’s task is to identify where his products are being talked about by customers and to engage in a conversation with them. Or at least to monitor the conversations if he doesn’t think it worthwhile to engage. Like Starwood Hotels who monitor frequent traveller conversations on websites like WebFlyer and help customers resolve questions on the websites through their employee the ‘Starwood Lurker’.

    Social CRM is here to stay. Marketers must decide whether they want to be part of the ongoing conversation, or whether they will ignore it like in the past. The world has changed, and CRM, well, it’s no longer CRM anymore. It’s much more than that.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-Centric Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

    Interested in Customer-Centric Innovation? Join the Customer Driven Innovation groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more.

  5. Mike, thanks for voicing what I’m sure many others have thought. What is the big deal about Twitter? Sure it’s the latest cool social thing, but it’s a poorly designed system for business use.

    Now, having said that, I do find Twitter valuable. I use it to share links to content I like and communicate with a few others on common interests. Once you connect with a few people, it’s much more productive.

    But the bloom may be off the Twitter rose. Today’s San Francisco Chronicle reported that “Twitter quitters found to outnumber tweeters,” citing a new report from Nielsen Online: “More than 60 percent of Twitter’s U.S. users don’t return a month later.”

    That’s only a 40% retention rate, although Nielsen may not be accounting for mobile usage. By comparison, Facebook and MySpace have a 70% retention rate.

    …3-year-old Twitter is losing users at a quicker pace than other popular online hangouts like Facebook and MySpace did at comparable stages of their growth, according to Nielsen.

    To keep growing, Twitter will have to fix its “leaky bucket” with service improvements that make the service more useful, not just trendy.

    Bob Thompson, CustomerThink Corp.
    Blog: Unconventional Wisdom

  6. Hi Graham,

    I was certainly not talking about the CRM of my metaphorical father. As new tools come into the customer engagement portfolio, I don’t see the need for giving CRM a new name. As a philosophy or business strategy, it really hasn’t changed (accept for those that believe it’s about software).

    I’m a total buy-in on your line of thought and understand that the landscape changes. In the past, we’ve seen many “revolutionary tools” that fizzle out because “they” weren’t the revolution, just an attempt to capitalize on it. Experiments are great, just like debate. It get’s people thinking in new ways.

    The Twitter experiment just isn’t working for me in it’s current form….even though I use it daily 🙂

    Mike Boysen
    Effective CRM Consulting

  7. Bob,

    Facebook and Myspace are visual media. I find that far easier to understand than Twitter. Twitter is like the old command prompt days to me.

    BTW, I read those statistics as well, and you’re correct, it is unclear whether mobile user statistics are being accounted for. Although, I would hate to think of people Twittering while trying to drive a car, for example.

    Mike Boysen
    Effective CRM Consulting

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