Social Media CRM 101: Attract, Acquire, Retain Customers


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Is your company’s social media presence antisocial?

How important is social media for the success of your customer relationship strategy?

Consider how your customers use social media. According to research compiled by social media expert Sarah Evans:

In other words, when it comes to connecting with customers, your company can’t afford to be antisocial. And neither can your CRM strategy.

To increase your company’s social media savvy, here’s where to begin:

1) Start By Listening

The best way to rise to the social media challenge: Listen.

While this sounds like common sense, many businesses don’t know what their customers are saying about them, because they’re not following discussions on Facebook, Twitter, as well as third-party websites where their customers gather.

How can they address this shortcoming? For users, one great place to start is by using Radian6, which enables companies to listen to customers on social media networks, then engage with them via

Why listen? Because of the business upsides, which include:

  • Free product advice: Troubleshoot product issues, gather R&D ideas
  • Key opinion leader identification: Know which “movers and shakers” to target with your marketing, to help influence as many potential customers as possible
  • Brand management: Task customer service agents or marketing personnel to quickly respond to offensive comments made about your products or brand
  • Happier customers: Troubleshoot issues while nudging users toward your bespoke, user-driven private community (see below)

2) Connect The Dots

As those examples suggest, once you’re listening, the next step is to start engaging with users, on their social networks. This social enterprise ( or social business (Jive Software) strategy best starts with a plan, based on what you’re trying to achieve. Typically, you’ll want to attract, acquire, and retain customers across your marketing, sales and service touch points.

Be sure your plan addresses these questions:

  • Brand disaster recovery: How will your company respond if someone trashes your brand on Twitter?
  • Customer service: What’s your cloud-backed social media strategy for customer service that will guide, for example, how your call center agents to respond to product problems they see discussed via social networks?
  • Sales: What social CRM touch points will you create to enable someone to make an immediate purchase?

3) Inmates Must Run The Asylum

Once you’re connecting with customers on social networks, the next step is to create a private community. Design this for your users — customers or business partners — then get out of their way and let them connect.

A great example of this crowd-sourcing dynamic in action is Apple’s support communities, which are predicated on customers (some of whom happen to be Apple-certified) helping other customers. To encourage this, Apple allows problem-seekers to award reputation points to problem-solvers (correct answer: 10 points, helpful answer: 5 points), and increases answer-givers’ “status level” based on the number of points they’ve accrued, from level 1 (up to 149 points), to level 10 (80,000+ points).

Crucially, Apple respects a certain social etiquette, for example enabling community users to say what they want. Of course, Apple no doubt monitors these communities to identify issues that might involve a bug in an application or operating system, to harvest ideas for features to include in forthcoming products. But for the majority of customers’ troubleshoot needs, Apple doesn’t need to lift a finger. Yet it’s created a space that ranks prominently on Google search results, creates more satisfied customers, and polishes Apple’s brand. Largely, for free.

4) Target Specific User Groups Via Private Communities

While Apple’s points-driven approach to crowdsourced service (using social media communities) is very applicable to high-technology companies, any industry can benefit, providing it creates a neutral space for users to connect.

One of Innoveer’s life sciences customers, for example, is creating community-driven portals designed for groups of people with very specific conditions. On these portals, people will be able to engage with peers who share their condition, as well as interface via Chatter with case workers who can discuss ways to treat and deal with it, and offer discounts on products. Crucially, however, the life sciences company has set clear rules for its community managers, including a prohibition on censoring any discussions of competing products.

The New Social Media Order

What’s your social media attack plan? Not all companies are at the “build a private community-driven portal” stage of social media evolution. Even so, any form of social media engagement will help orient you properly.

Whichever stage you’re at, always remember the basics: Listen to customers on Facebook, Twitter and beyond. Engage with them. Identify new ways to connect, as well as market, sell and service. Throughout these interactions, whether on public or private social networks, prioritize democracy. And above all, be social.

Learn More

How can companies master social networks to not just boost their brand appeal, but enhance marketing, increase sales, and improve service? Start by mastering CRM best practices. To help, we’ve assembled a list of the top 10 questions that any executive should be asking about their organization’s marketing, sales, or service program.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user eflon.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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