Social CRM: A Primer


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Remember the old roadtrip game 20 questions? You know, I ask you 20 yes or no questions and then guess what you’re thinking about. Well, I’ve got the 2013 version. It’s a little bit quicker–I only need 3 questions. And, it’s a bit better–the answer won’t be “a giraffe” or “a football,” but real, actionable business insight. Interested? Alright, let’s go:

  • Question 1: Do you know what percentage of your customers you’re connected with via social media?
  • Question 2: When your social media manager interacts with customers on one of your social media networks, will your sales or service staff know about it the next time they interact with them?
  • Question 3: Are you actively prospecting your social media contacts and followers who are not current customers?

Now, here comes the reveal. If your answers were “no,” “nope,” and “uh-oh, not yet,” I know two things about your company: You’re not using social CRM software and you’re also missing an enormous business opportunity.

Social CRM: Keeping Up with the Customer Conversation

The promise of traditional CRM software has always been to strengthen your customer relationships by gathering together your customer interaction and outreach efforts. Emails, phone conversation notes, sales histories, service requests–all represent communication that’s been fair-game for CRM platforms to consolidate into a clear picture of your customer engagement.

But like guests adjourning from the dining-room to the living room at a dinner party, the conversation is moving. More and more customers are interacting with companies via social media channels. The interesting thing is that, CRM tools are moving too–and following the conversation.

As relatively new as social media may be in the business landscape, there’s already a clear pattern of enterprise adoption in place–starting with dipping the toes in the social media channel most relevant to the bulk of your customers and ending at full integration of social media with enterprise customer relationship.

Social Media Business Adoption Lifecycle

Exploring Your Options

If you’d like to find out more about your social CRM software options, a number of providers are offering great software packages to consider:

  1. Nimble
  2. “Nimble automatically pulls your contacts into one place so you can engage them across any channel (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Skype, Phone, Email) in one easy to use interface.”

  3. Sugar CRM
  4. “Open your Sugar home page, and let the social worlds of Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn come to you. Find out how to use social tools within SugarCRM to start your day, research accounts, prepare for calls, and exchange updates with colleagues. Discover why it’s important to be able to search and share social information without leaving the CRM system—and how Sugar can help.”

  5. Dynamics CRM
  6. “Far more than a passing trend, social is here to stay. But when it comes to applying it to your business, you may be asking, “Where do I start?” The answer is simple: start with the priorities you have for your business. Enterprise Social can help you do whatever you need to do—faster and smarter.”

  7. Dimelo
  8. “Our SocialCRM Suite is a comprehensive multichannel software for companies willing to engage in a direct conversation with their customers, allowing them to orchestrate, manage and secure conversations in their Internet properties as well as in the wild wild web.”

  9. Batchbook
  10. “Batchbook is a simple tool to help small businesses build meaningful relationships with their best customers. We help our customers organize disperse contact information and access it from the cloud so that small businesses can stay on top of their world saving agendas.”

  11. Aptean Pivotal
  12. “Pivotal Social CRM brings the power of the social Web into your business where it’s most relevant and valuable: within your CRM system. The solution integrates the most popular and ubiquitous social media tools—Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, InsideView, and Google BlogSearch—with your users’ daily activity hub, CRM. This solution brings the deep insight and business intelligence of social media sites into your customer and prospect database, while incorporating sociamedia elements into your team’s natural daily workflows.”

Adam Bluemner
Adam Bluemner is the Project Specialist Manager for, a service providing free software selection assistance. Over the last decade Adam has spoken with over 10,000 companies, helping them achieve business success through intelligent software investment. Adam writes extensively on ERP and business software.


  1. Adam,

    Probably the biggest reason most companies and others cannot determine an ROI for their social investments is the (dis)connection between their CMS, social listening tools, and their CRM. It becomes more difficult if you are not in the market for a new CRM system.

    Do any of these listed here “bolt on” to your CRM system, allowing you to combine your data with social profiles?

    Is anyone doing this well? (either end user companies or suppliers)


  2. Hi Adam,

    Very interesting article. I’ve noticed some products I didn’t knew before, so thanks!

    Despite of all those good products out there I feel it’s like a jungle with all those different software to choose from. Instead of them explaining what their software does, I would prefer them telling who should buy their products. What kind of businesses? How many personal? What’s the benefit of choosing Nimble instead of … You see my point…

    It’s hard to tell which product businesses should go for.

    Are other people feeling this issue as well?

    Best wishes!
    Robbin Kleinpenning

  3. Michael, I think you hit the nail on the head in terms of your comment about ROI on social investment being hard to come by when their is a disconnect between CMS, social listening tools, and CRM. In fact, I think this is one of the fundamental promises that SCRM offers by integrating those functional areas.

    Social CRM offers not only engagement tools, but analytics tools. Analytics help answer questions like: Do socially engaged prospects/customers purchase more than non-socially engaged prospects/customers? What’s the total revenue difference? How does that compare to the investment in social tools? Of course, as with all marketing analytics this can be made more granular. What type of engagement works best? How much engagement is worthwhile? Etc.

    The SCRM tools I chose to focus on generally integrate traditional CRM with monitoring of social engagement as a kind of one-stop-shop. I appreciate your question though regarding what to do when you would like to continue with a particular CRM package and cannot simply replace it (which could of course be the case for a variety of different reasons). Interestingly, there are tools that offer “bolt-on” functionality. One of the products mentioned in the overview was a package called Nimble. Nimble offers integration with a number of CRM platforms including Salesforce and Zoho.

  4. Hi Robin,

    Thanks for your question. Interestingly enough, the company I’ve been working for over the last 10 years, was actually designed specifically to answer the question you posed. It’s called We provide a free service for companies looking to find their top accounting and business software (including CRM) options. You are right. There is a jungle of options out there. In fact, we work with about 1200 different companies who offer thousands of different products. We have a simple process where we’d look to understand your software requirements so we could create an anonymous summary of your needs to send to our providers. We would then apply some match-making criteria to connect you with the top options (the number is up to you).

    If you’d like to follow up, feel free to visit us at There’s a chat function right on the home page. Feel free to ask for me, Adam, and I can answer any questions you might have.

  5. Robin and Michael, you raise such good points. I spoke to a new user the other day, and she said that she acquired Nimble by just plain luck, because she didn’t even know what questions to ask when delving into social software products like ours. She said “Nimble was like Dr. Who’s TARDIS — bigger on the inside!

    As a result of her comment, our CMO has produced a WONDERFUL walkthrough for Nimble, which you can find here:

    It explains our integrations, as well, which are the secret sauce of our versatility. Just pick your favorite worktools and meld them into Nimble for a smooth workflow!

    If you have questions, you can reach us at [email protected]. We’re always happy to help.

    Best, Alyson Stone, Nimble Team


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