Social Media: The WORST thing that ever happened to CRM


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Not a minute goes by without articles, presentations, videos, blog posts and tweets get published about the greatness and importance of social media. Amongst the news is a great mix of hype, reality and new thinking and very often a link is made between social media and CRM – by many popularly referred to as Social CRM.

Needless to say that social media has an impact on CRM, but in this blog post we will take it one step further and claim that social media is more than that; it is the worst thing that ever happened to CRM.

Here are the reasons:

Like CRM, Social media is not easily definable: Whereas several disciplines within companies, e.g. logistics and accounting, are relatively easy to define and structured processes and rules exist, the same can’t truly be said about CRM. The concept of CRM has been -and still is- a difficult concept to work with for many companies. Everyone has read the great definitions of CRM, but integrating that or adopting these principles in a business context (and company wide) has proven troublesome. With social media the challenge only becomes greater. First is the stand alone definition of social media; is it a strategy, a paradigm shift or “just” an additional communication channel? Who “owns” social media within an organization (PR/communications, marketing, service etc)? Things become even more complicated when connecting social media with CRM. Once again, a great definition of social CRM has been developed by Paul Greenberg but as with the concept of CRM, the challenge remains on how to “apply” this definition throughout the business and truly interact and engage with customers.

Social media makes CRM implementations (even) more complicated: CRM strategies and supporting implementations have been difficult enough. This is clearly illustrated by the vast amount of “failed” CRM projects throughout the years. Adding social media to it all only complicates things even further, needs extra involvement from more (and different) stakeholders and creates more data to process and handle (incl issues around bigdata). CRM has maybe not always yielded the expected results or maybe not been implemented company wide, but it has definitely become an integrated part of most companies. With the rise of social media and the attempt to integrate it with CRM, companies in general and CRM managers in particular, are heading into troubled water as they (once again) try to grasp what a customer centric strategy means. One could argue that if companies have not been able to be successful in CRM, how can we expect that it will be different this time around?

History is repeating itself: an important player in most CRM projects is the technology partner who is supplying the technology and/or leading the implementation to support the CRM strategy. Technology partners in the past sought (for various reasons but mainly economical) to push their products and left companies around the world with a feeling that buying solutions and applications would enable them to succeed. Far too little focus was put on the human side of CRM (strategy, change management, processes, culture etc) as the success of technology partners depended on licenses sold. Strangely enough, there seems to be a shortcoming in learning from the past and in many ways social media “experts”, vendors and technology partners are heading into the same troubled water (again). The problem often begins at the very beginning as companies tend to ignore (because it makes the project more complex and costly in the short term) the non-technical parts of an implementation. The technology partners having the same objectives as in the past will not change their strategy and projects are looked at as solely technology implementations. Where the blame lies differs from project to project but one thing is certain: connecting and integrating social media with CRM makes things even more complex and doesn’t increase the chances of a positive result for the company – and at the end of the day for the customers.

The list could be extended with more examples and arguments, but the point is to show that social media is not just influencing but is also the worst thing that ever happened to CRM. Whether you agree or disagree: please make sure to check out this very different perspective: “Social Media: The BEST Thing That Ever Happened to CRM”

Kristian Gotsch
Kristian Gotsch has more than 15 years experience within the world of CRM. As CRM Manager at the Eredivisie (Dutch Premier League), Kristian has a great interest in sports and CRM and is the founder of Loyalsticity. Prior to his current role Kristian held various CRM positions at T-Mobile, PwC and Microsoft. This is a personal rather than a corporate blog. My opinions reflect my own views rather than necessarily those of my employer.


  1. Good input. Just saw a few days ago that acquired another social related company to become even more of a social CRM company.

    I do want to add a bit of detail to the perspective on technology partners. It may be that their focus is indeed on selling licenses. However, there’s a ton of money to be made on selling and I can’t imagine that technology partners avoid talking about that in their first pitches to companies.

    That companies avoid buying the costly training, the change management, etc, is something that can be blamed on the buying organization AND on the salesrep who was unable to close the bigger deal.

    Otherwise spot on – it is interesting to watch how this one will unfold!

  2. Thanks for the comment Jakob and agree that the technology partners are not the only ones to blame for “neglecting” the training, change management, process improvements, change in focus/strategy etc. Most businesses underestimate the importance of these components or give them less priority than they deserve – most obvious reasons seem lack of budget or lack of executive buy in but I would also add lack of experience with similar projects as one of the biggest reasons (how often has a company gone from being product focused to customer focused for example?).


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