Justifying Investments in Social Relationship Management

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As the popularity of social media grows, social media channels and platforms multiply. While the importance of tapping into online social activity is clear,how to do so, considering the scope and diversity of platforms and websites is overwhelming. For this reason, many businesses have chosen to invest in social relationship management technology that coordinates social engagement across multiple networks.  What is ultimately confusing for buyers is the fact that no two solutions are identical.  Which makes it very hard to determine which one to invest in.  Or it leads organizations to invest in multiple social relationship solutions which results in fragmented and disconnected social data.  Today, decisions to invest in social media technology are primarily contingent on the business objective companies want to accomplish:

  • I want to learn about new target audiences.
  • I want to find unmet customer needs.
  • I want to monitor my competitors.
  • I want to engage customers in service and support.
  • I want to engage influencers.
  • I want to promote the brand.
  • You get the picture.


These needs are largely addressed by investments in multiple platforms: Monitoring and/or Engagement.  Social Relationship Management platforms typically contain both listening and engagement.  They offer a real-time means of monitoring and a mechanism for publishing communications.

Gleanster’s Social Relationship Management Benchmark Report examines how successful marketers utilize social media technology to achieve real and measurable business results. Effective social technology does more than just promote a brand: It employs user analytics, targets messages, facilitates conversation, links to CRM, and rewards advocates is a systematic and automated fashion.

In this study, we surveyed how Top Performing organizations engage in social relationship campaigns. Over 300 responses were received from organizations like Microsoft, Ford, Marriot, and Cisco with the goal of uncovering why they chose to implement social relationship management technology, the value drivers that yielded the greatest success, challenges encountered, and performance metrics used to measure success.

Below is a brief summary of the primary reasons Top Performers implement social relationship management technology and the primary value drivers they used to maximize the return on the technology.

Why invest in Social Relationship Management?

Top reasons to implement social relationship management according to Gleanster respondents.

Top reasons to implement social relationship management according to Gleanster respondents.

The top three reasons survey respondents choose to implement a social relationship management initiative are: (1) to expand current capabilities; (2) to coordinate social and traditional marketing; and (3) to manage social activities centrally and at scale.



Eighty percent (80%) of Top Performers choose to implement a social relationship management initiative in order to expand their current capabilities; suggesting existing solutions were lacking.  For this reason, larger organizations often support redundant capabilities in multiple social relationships management tools.  As such Top Performers are hunger for ways to enhance and simplify social engagement which leads to adoption of increasingly robust tools. While more robust tools may cost more to adopt, building a business case tends to be easier when an organization knows how to effectively use the tools.  The lesson here is you might want to start off small, learn from mistakes and then look at incrementally better solutions to match your organizations ability to effectively leverage the tools.

Seventy five (75%) of Top Performers use the technology to coordinate a cohesive campaign across social and traditional platforms. Finally, 54% implement the technology to centrally control all social media outlets.  But even for Top Performers that’s the goal/reason, not exactly the reality.

How do Top Performers maximize the return on investment in social relationship technology?

Generating an ROI on Social Media - Gleanster Stats

How do Top Performers extract value from social relationship management

Value drivers are processes and tactics that help organizations maximize the return on investment in social relationship management. According to Top Performers, the top three value drivers include: (1) the ability to create compelling campaigns and content; (2) incorporation of social into the overall marketing strategy; and (3) integration of social with CRM. It’s interesting to note, none of these value drivers are unique to a technology. They are largely organizational in nature; people skills, processes, strategy, etc.  This finding continues to underscore the need to be prepared internally before investing heavily in social relationship management technology.

For Top Performers, the linchpin in social relationships I the content – (91%) rank this a top strategy for extracting ROI from social relationship technology investments.  Compelling content should engage an audience, generate interest, and garner participation.  Eighty-six percent (86%) of Top Performers surveyed, state that incorporating social into overall marketing strategies is a primary value driver. Successful campaigns find ways to expand social messaging apps, websites, and emails to promote social content and functionality.

The third most important value driver (77%) lies in the ability to integrate social with CRM. With this integration, companies gain clearer insight into consumers–who and how they influence one another, and specific responses to messages.  Of course this demands some sort of unique customer identifier that universally links customer behavior across various social properties.



Organizations have many options for a social relationship management system, these include free and paid offerings.  For a complete vendor landscape and additional research on social media, check out the Gleanster Voice of the Customer research category.

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