Social media CRM and how to get started

Social Media CRM: Getting Started

There’s a lot of movement in working Social Media CRM into your marketing plans (aka #SocialCRM) these days, and rightly so. Social media content and conversations can play an important role in customer relationship management – from lead generation to lead nurturing to customer support after the sale, and all the way through to advocacy. Social signals are very strong tools when identified and acted on appropriately.

With today’s rapid speed of change, however, it seems like a myriad of social content management options came about so fast that it’s hard for even tech savvy marketers to keep up. Let’s take a look at the basic considerations for including Social Media CRM in your plans (and tools to help you do so) in three main steps: Social Listening, Publishing and Engagement.

Social Listening

The first thing to do is listen to what people are saying about your brand, products, competitors, etc. Determine where people might be talking, whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, message forums, etc.

There are many social media monitoring tools to research, but before you get go down that rabbit hole, a good place to start is with native analytics tools. Each social channel provides a certain level of analytics reporting. Try that first.You can always add an aggregator down the road to simplify the process by providing one platform for many channels. Hootsuite is a  personal favorite. It’s fully featured, team-based, and is a platform for developers to build additional features.

Let’s not forget Google Alerts. This free tool is often overlooked but very, very powerful. Head over and setup a few searches now.

Once you’re actively listening to the social channels you’re focused on, you’re going to want to start reporting on a few key metrics. Mentions, followers, sentiment are great ones to begin with. You don’t have to overcook this early on. A spreadsheet will work fine. Just update it regularly (monthly is a good cadence) to start identifying trends.

In addition, you’re going to want to tie appropriate mentions to your CRM system. In some cases, social is tightly woven into a CRM tool (looking at you Nimble!) and this is done automagically. If there is no direct integration in your CRM, adding a custom field or two to a contact for relevant posts is a good way to share valuable information with CRM users like your sales team. This works for small teams, but manually doesn’t scale. If you’re working with any kind of volume, you’ll want to use a CRM that embraces social media natively.

Publishing Social Media CRM

Publishing organic social media content is a great way to get your company’s messages out in front of prospects, customers and even internal team members. You may have found this blog post that way.

You can demonstrate industry leadership, showcase product features and benefits and establish your brand’s voice with rich media of all types – text, images, sound, video, and so on.

Make sure you have a clearly defined objective with your posts. Selling products via ecommerce is much different than trying to drive awareness of a new brand. Determine your objectives before posting.

Some thought starters for social content include:

  • Events
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Product Updates
  • Best Practices, Case Studies, White Papers
  • Customer Interviews
  • Feedback Requests/Surveys
  • How-To Guides

Many companies using social media in conjunction with CRM are looking for lead generation. An effective strategy is to use enticing social posts to drive traffic to a dedicated landing page that begins to tell your story with the payoff (valuable guide, discount, free download, etc.) living behind an email gate. With a simple Zapier/Automate.io integration, you can pipe these new leads into your existing CRM triggering an automated email starting a conversation. In many cases, no programming knowledge is needed.

If your company doesn’t have a strong social presence already, you can enlist the use of influencers to help spread the word to their larger networks. Influencer marketing is growing rapidly and is a great way to jump start social campaigns.

Worth noting is that even though you may have a targeted audience you’re going after, your social posts could be going global. Keep that in mind as you develop and schedule posts. Using video? Consider closed captioning.

A key metric in social media publishing is tracking what content resonates most with your audience. Link tracking can help with this by showing how many people click on your content links. Google URL Builder is a powerful free tool that provides this at no cost. All mature social media management platforms have link tracking and analytics built in.

Once you are able to track how your social content is performing, optimize over time by paying attention to the content types that perform best and increasing those types, while decreasing the content types that perform poorly. There will be plenty. This optimization loop will serve you well as you plan your content calendars.

Engagement With Social Media CRM

Once you are listening for social posts about your products/brand and you’re publishing your own organic posts, you’re going to start getting the opportunity to engage with your audience. Authentic conversation is the holy grail in social CRM and should be given high priority in your marketing mix. As your legion of social followers grows, you build trust with them through consistent engagement. That trust is rewarded with customer loyalty and advocacy.

Whenever someone posts a question on social, answer it. It shows that your company cares about your prospects and customers. Speed counts here. You don’t have to be 24/7/365, but during normal business hours, you should aim for speedy replies. The larger the company, the more “always on” the customer expects the company to act.

Some of the feedback you’re going to get will be great, and some no-so-much. You should respond to both professionally. The positive feedback is easy – thank them! Maybe you can repost some of their content if it’s relevant. Perhaps an advocate discount is in order.

The negative feedback is more nuanced. Always respond to this type of feedback in the fastest manner possible and don’t delete posts. If the feedback is constructive, acknowledge that and pass the information on to the appropriate people in your company. If you find yourself communicating with someone who is looking for conflict, try to take it offline and supply a direct line to contact customer service. This keeps the content on social focused more on relevant information rather than potential smear comments from competitors, etc. People can see through haters and will recognize your professional approach to dealing with them.

Social media management platforms often have integration with leading customer service platforms like ZenDesk and Salesforce Success Cloud. These integrations allow for the identification of social posts that need to be addressed, the creation and assignment of support tickets and related reporting. That way what happens in social gets shared with everyone who engages prospects and customers. It’s part of the 360 degree view of the customer.

Get Started

While there are many sophisticated Social Media CRM options out there featuring things like artificial intelligence and machine learning, there are some basic steps with Social Listening, Publishing and Engagement that most organizations can get started with today. This approach will help your company take advantage of how social media can support CRM while landing some quick wins. In addition, your marketing and sales teams will be learning how data flows between divisions which will be instrumental in taking your Social Media CRM marketing programs to the next level.

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