Three lessons from Paul Greenberg’s Social CRM Summit


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Paul Greenberg’s inaugural Social CRM summit earlier this year was severely disrupted by a snow storm. It was volcanic ash and a BA cabin crew strike that threatened to disrupt my visit to the second summit, held at Kennesaw State University, in balmy Georgia.
The event was something of a gathering of minds in the SCRM space with distinguished thinkers like Paul Greenberg, Dr Jeff Tanner &  Jeff Pedowitz  presenting and thought leaders like Esteban Kolsky, Marshall Lager,  and Jacob Morgan driving a lively discussion and tweeting live from the event. It was a uniquely social event with an extended audience following the #SCRMsummit hashtag on Twitter.
Two of my fellow participants have already published excellent posts on the event. Lauren Hall-Stigerts wrote a comprehensive summary of the event here and Jacob Morgan covered the more social side of the event here! I don’t aim to repeat anything they have already written. Instead I wanted to focus on 3 key learnings I look away from the summit.
1. CRM remains the foundation of Social CRM
Although the summit focussed on the “S” in SCRM; Paul emphasised a number of times that CRM does not disappear. Companies still need to answer phones, take orders, handle complaints etc… SCRM does not replace CRM, it compliments CRM. In some ways it represents the final missing piece of the CRM puzzle. The piece that acknowledges the customer’s control of the conversation; the piece that encourages listening and responding to the direct and authentic voice of the customer (and the customer’s community); and the piece that forces companies to embrace outside-in thinking and not simply focus on internal command and control mechanisms. Many SCRM vendors and practitioners still have some way to go in articulating a strong CRM integration story, but the 2 must be treated as one.
2. Embracing Social Media does not mean you have embraced Social CRM
Setting up a Facebook fan page or Tweeting special offers to your customers is easy, but let’s be clear; that does not mean you have embraced Social CRM, you have merely adopted some new channels. Adopting social channels without a wider framework can be dangerous. Social media can give marketers more data than they ever dreamed of; the danger of which is that inside-out thinking is perpetuated and increasingly granular customer segments are bombarded with direct messages, tweets, notifications etc.  The force has both a light and a dark side! See my post on Star Wars and Social CRM.
3. The concept of “someone (or a company) like me” is central to what drives customer trust and advocacy and LTV is no longer enough
This was an interesting idea that Paul introduced at the event. The idea of “someone like me” has been told many times. Customer’s trust advice and guidance from people they perceive to be similar to themselves, far more than they trust corporate marketing, PR or a smooth-talking salesman. “A company like me” extends this concept through the alignment of a company’s brand values to those of its customers. Customer advocacy is not just driven by successful transactions; it’s a product of an emotional connection that the customer has made to the company and its brand. Co-creation is a powerful mechanism to help establish a customer’s emotional connection, as customer’s can be made to feel part of the brand. When a customer feels part of the brand and starts acting as an advocate, traditional metrics like LTV are no longer enough; the social customer can have positive or negative value far outside their direct revenue-generating transactions. See Paul’s recent post on Measuring the Social Customer.
It was a pleasure to attend the Social CRM summit and connect with many of the friends and colleagues that I have been working with for a while. A Transcript of the Tweets from the event can be found here.
Disclaimer and disclosure: I attended the Social CRM summit as a guest of Paul Greenberg and BTP Partners but my company Capgemini paid my travel costs.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Laurence Buchanan
Laurence is CEO of EY Seren and leads EY’s global Customer & Growth practice. He works with clients to help them re-imagine growth through human-centered design, innovation and the transformation of Marketing, Sales & Customer Service functions. He is a recognized authority on digital transformation, customer experience and CRM, he has worked across a wide range of sectors, including telco, media, life sciences, retail and sports. He received an MA in Modern History from the University of Oxford.


  1. Hi Laurence

    I am pleased that you had a great time in Georgia. And that you survived all the bullet points!

    The idea of someone, or a company like me is not new. It is rooted in social networking as the concept of homophily and the expression ‘birds of a feather flock together’. But we should not make the mistake of assuming that we need to know all the people who influence us. Christakis & Fowler show in their book Connected how although the most influential people are generally our friends, our friends’ friends and our friends’ friends’ friends, i.e. three degrees of separation, also influence our behaviour, even though we probably don’t know all of them. And Mark Gronovetter showed in the 1970s that it is these distant weak ties that often link us to other social networks and that provide us with the most important new information, e.g. that might lead to a new job or to a new close friendship.

    What this means is that the we have to look beyond simplistic notions of someone like me, or a company like me, if we are to understand and benefit from social netwrks. This applies just as much to how we value networks of customers (obviously more than just Customer Lifetime Value, but also more than Customer Referral value) as to how we look to social media to influence customers. As Duncan Watts suggests in an HBR article on Viral Marketing for the Real World we need to understand the social networks across which ideas propagate, the ideas that successfully do so and the role of individuals in propogation if we are to make the most of social media.

    These are early days for social media and particularly for social CRM. It is all well and good to start mixing loyalty, advocacy and emotions into the social pot, but not if it is done on a superficial basis. It would be a huge shame if we spoiled social CRM for the lack of a bit of proper, evidence-based, joined-up thinking.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

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


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