What is Social CRM, and What Does it Mean for Your Business?

What is social CRM? Social CRM (sCRM) combines traditional CRM practices and capabilities with social networking and Web 2.0 technologies to help sales people identify quality leads, develop effective marketing campaigns, and collaborate with other sales and support staff to close more deals quickly. When asked ‘what is social crm?’ experts claim Social CRM to be one of the emerging trends in CRM that has made the most noise. Social CRM can mean securing more customers at a lower acquisition cost to produce higher sales.

After asking the question of ‘what is social crm?’, the next question is what does it do? Social CRM is designed to work with most existing CRM applications and is component of many ERP and CRM packages on the market today.  There are many Social CRM vendor offerings for companies of all sizes.  In many cases, what is being sold is a contact database that includes fields for a client’s Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace accounts.  However, building lasting relationships through these mediums is still up to the business.

After the question of ‘what is social CRM?’ is answered, another question is ‘which social CRM would work best for my business?’ A powerful social CRM does more than just manage contacts, it allows the business to manage how it communicates with them, how frequently it communicates, and it does so through a number of different paths.  The best social CRM allows a company to leverage its contact’s social information to provide valuable insight into preferences and interests.  With more than 500,000,000 users, social media sites such as Facebook have unlimited potential to reach customers with a minimum of cost, and it is also one of the primary ways to connect with a younger target market.  Other sites, such as Twitter, have added new words to our vocabulary (“tweeting”).  As a powerful voice in the lives of people, social media offers access to such a vast and diverse market that companies not on board are bound to be left behind.

The next level of social CRM provides companies with the capability to import all email contacts and social media clients into a single database.  With this information organized in a single central database, a company can easily tag individuals or groups in such a way that filtering or custom marketing can be done quickly and effectively.  As contact is made with each individual, the conversation is saved onto that person’s profile in the database for even more effective contacts and sales pitches in the future.

In truth, there is no single out of the box social CRM application that will provide immediate results.  Companies looking to succeed with social CRM must develop it over time, recognizing that marketing is the job of everyone in the organization.  They must also make sure potential customers questions are answered- especially the question of ‘what is social crm?’ in the first place. Complex decisions and negotiations both internally and externally with vendors will pave the way to a successful social CRM system that will pay dividends over time.