You’ve heard all the hype about social media. Just about every business has a Twitter account these days, and blogging has long since become a venue for businesses looking to connect with customers.
But in their thirst for new tools, many businesses fail to understand just what role social media should play in CRM. Here is a guide full of tips for changing that…
Nurture real relationships, have a personality and a voice
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is all about converting conversations into sales. Well, so is social media. Used correctly, social media helps a company establish its own personality and voice, showing a relatable side to its customers and increasing brand loyalty in the process.
But it also goes deeper than that. Social media represents a fundamental shift away from a linear sales model, where customers contact a company before, during or immediately following a sale. Now customers – both the loyal and those that are just beginning their search – expect constant accessibility, whether or not a purchasing decision is pending.
In other words, customers want a true relationship, not one in which they feel constantly pitched to. Sure, they’ll get excited about a company’s 50% off promotion, but they’re just as likely to retweet a company’s witty joke about Lady Gaga. Have a personality, have a voice, and go beyond pitch. Take a look at ModCloth’s Twitter feed for a great example.
Start the right conversations…
Conversations are great if you have a quality brand that people love; not so much if your brand has haters. For example, things went sour for McDonald’s when it requested users to tweet about their memories with its brand, only to have it backfire into, erhm, less than favorable horror stories about Band-Aids in burgers and diabetes.
Companies can’t control social media like they could control advertising and marketing campaigns. But they can start the kinds of conversations they’d like their customers to hear. This means, first and foremost, having some self-awareness about how people already perceive your brand and starting interesting, compelling conversations.
This could mean doing something fun like a contest or a game, or empowering customers by asking them for new product ideas. Keep it light, produce helpful content, be responsive and make sure to follow up on promises.
Take advantage of sales tools
Social media means more interactions with customers, which means more data to track, manage and respond to. The bigger your company grows, the more data there will be, which makes sales tools essential to ensuring no customer slips through the cracks.
Invest in a CRM that works on the cloud so you’ll be able to access customer information wherever you are. Or, if your company has the resources to do so, use a system to build a custom application for your CRM needs.
Either way, look for extra features that allow you to track campaigns, create social profiles for your most influential customers, manage your workflow and get out ahead of any new trends. And, most of all, find a CRM that helps you measure the effectiveness of your campaigns so you can better focus your efforts.
Plan your strategy
Approach social media like you would any other essential aspect of your business model. Plan a regular day for themed blog posts, like “Your Pick Thursdays” for a restaurant, or, “How To Mondays” for a web design company. If you work in a cyclical industry, consider putting together a content calendar so you’ll know when to blog about different topics.
Build in time for regular tweets, as well as time to scan those Twitter and Facebook feeds, respond to messages, sort through hashtags and reach out to potential customers talking about your subject area.
Businesses that have a deep grasp of what social media is, how it works and what they can do with it will be far ahead of the pack. So drop the sale pitch, get brainstorming, and get out there!
Adria Saracino is a marketer and blogger. When not consulting businesses on their content and PR efforts, you can find her writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.