Social Networking Brings CRM to New Industries

The rapidly increasing popularity of social networking platforms is news to no one. Twitter was steadily drawing users at the beginning of 2009 and then exploded since Oprah joined in April, and names like Facebook and LinkedIn are more and more familiar in the household. This proliferation of social networking is not just for the masses though—as a tool to developing brands it already indispensible to many businesses, and this spring many CRM systems began integrating social networking features into their platforms. This incorporation was inevitable, and with it has come a new kind of CRM customer.

Systems by and the like initially implemented social CRM (sCRM) features to allow businesses to build a meaningful rapport with their customers and provide timely customer support. Recently it has become a means for following the conversations surrounding particular brands and topics, and is fast becoming invaluable to the industries who deal in brand creation and development rather than sales: the PR and marketing communities. The gamer-spawned Lithium Technologies was at the forefront of sCRM with a platform for brands that was customer-driven, and many CRM providers began adopting social networking elements to provide better and more efficient customer support. Startups like Scout Labs and Buzzstream have evolved this system into a slightly different animal, creating packages that track and organize media and social media coverage, and helping those who need to build and maintain relationships with the individuals who are starting and influencing the conversations. CRM systems are very much associated with sales- and enterprise-driven customers, but this developing ability to monitor web content—and monitor it in real time—is broadening the CRM systems’ customer base,  giving PR, advertising and marketing reps a new way to focus on building relationships.

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