Social CRM Masterclass – Part 3

There are two major considerations to bear in mind before deciding whether your company is ready for social CRM – the fact that it is a very public form of communication, and that it serves a company best as an initiator of conversations.

Although social media can provide valuable channels for sales and marketing, they act primarily as a ‘gateway’ to having more meaningful exchanges in the more conventional channels. Interaction that begins on social media often transitions into communication via email, phone, or face-to-face meetings. Also, it’s worth remembering that communicating via social media is a bit like having a conversation in front of a (potentially) huge audience. It amplifies everything – good and bad – so you have to keep this at the forefront of your mind when assessing a potential social CRM strategy.

With these two guiding principles in mind, here are five questions you should ask before taking the plunge and adopting a social CRM strategy.

Are your stakeholders actively engaged in social media?

With social media participation increasing exponentially across the general public, it looks as though the day will soon come when every company answers “yes” to this question. However, it still depends on the type of business. If your business is selling hinges to hardware stores, then you probably wouldn’t have that much to gain by investing in social media. As a general rule, if your customers, competitors, and partners aren’t active on social media, it isn’t really worth making it a priority.

Do you already have the right people on board?

In order to succeed with Social CRM, you need to have people on board that know how social media works, and how to leverage it successfully. You may already have plenty of people within your organization that fall into this category – it’s a popular pursuit, after all – and perhaps not even realise it. Trying to push Social CRM on a workforce that is not interested or knowledgeable about social media might turn out to be a bit of a fool’s errand, but if you have the resources already at hand, the transition might be smoother than you anticipated.

Have you identified strategies that fit in with the objectives of your organization?

Every business has real organizational objectives – such as trying to grow their customer base, generate more leads, or expand into overseas markets. Social CRM is best thought of a collection of tools to help you realize these goals, but you need to know how you could go about doing it before you take the plunge. This means identifying ‘use cases’ – ways in which you could use social media to achieve the goals of your organization, and these could emerge from marketing, sales, or service. Here is a helpful infographic towards this end:

Are the current systems (CRM, enterprise resource planning, marketing automation) working as well as they could be?

Communicating on social media is often a gateway into other forms of communication such as email or face-to-face. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that you have the online marketing fundamentals fully defined and optimised before you begin engaging on social media. That way, your social efforts will have a much bigger impact when you do engage.

Is there a culture of collaboration and sharing in your business?

A top-down, hierarchical structure works well for the army – but as a framework for a social media strategy, it leaves a lot to be desired. Social media is a sharing, collaborative environment, and companies that have a culture in keeping with this ethos are at something of an advantage when they come to engage on social. So, if your employees are used to having their ideas and their opinions heard within the company, they will be more comfortable communicating on the company’s behalf.

So, are you ready for Social CRM?

If you can say with some confidence that the answer to most of the questions above is ‘yes’ then you should be in an ideal position to begin the implementation process. If, however, you are not sure about a few of these aspects, then your time – and resources – could be much better spent by endeavouring to meet these requirements rather than rushing into a misfiring social strategy.