Social CRM: Meet your customers where they are

Charlotte Malz
Head of Marketing, BSI

Social media continue to be a significant factor when it comes to brand acceptance and familiarity. With software-driven social CRM, companies can use these networks very specifically to optimize their marketing strategies and individualize their customer communication.

Key points

  • With social CRM, companies use social networks to market their products, build trust, and communicate directly with their customers.
  • Social CRM activities allow companies to shape current trends and developments quickly and directly.
  • At the same time, companies’ direct communication with their customers shifts to the networks where customers are in the first place and where they feel comfortable.

What does social CRM mean?

Social CRM is a company’s use of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn as part of its customer relationship management. It involves the expansion of the traditional CRM by using social networks specifically as touchpoints with customers.

What is surprising is that many companies seem to continue to underestimate the significance of social CRM. According to a survey, only about one-fifth of the companies interviewed consider social CRM very important. Moreover, in a ranking of the most significant trends, social CRM is in ninth place, trailing far behind usability, mobility and automation (Trovarit, 2020).

This result is even more surprising as the significance of social media platforms to customers has increased over the past few years. Therefore, it is more critical than ever for companies to use social media. According to a study, 83% of all customers like it when a company responds to their inquiries directly via a social media channel. In addition, almost 50% of them say that a sales conversation on social media may motivate them to buy (Sproutsocial, 2017).

What does social CRM drive at?

Like all marketing and customer relationship activities, social CRM also helps gain customers’ trust, improve customer loyalty and ultimately ensure higher revenue. Yet, what makes social CRM unique is its use of external communication platforms where customers already are.

In other words, the ideal situation is a customer that can be guided toward a purchase in the environment of networks she is familiar with – and the same works in B2B. Particularly in networks like Xing or LinkedIn, trust in a brand can be achieved very effectively with a high level of expertise and visibility.

Advantages and disadvantages of social CRM trends

One of the most significant advantages of social CRM activities is their speed. Thanks to today’s digital systems, you can analyze even large volumes of data from social networks in real time, allowing you to respond very quickly to mood shifts or changing needs.

At the same time, you can also include competitors in your analysis with the help of extensive web monitoring, allowing you to read trends and identify market developments. Finally yet importantly, social CRM allows you to analyze customers as individuals and increases their loyalty to your brand.

Social CRM has high data protection requirements. On the one hand, companies have to follow the general GDPR while also having to take into account the data protection policies and usage terms of individual platforms. That is why it makes sense to consult with internal or external data protection experts.

If your social CRM system is advanced, it requires sufficient expertise in the company to use the distinctive environment of social networks profitably. This requires time and effort, but it may bring big rewards.

The social CRM: Examples from everyday life

In addition to using social CRM to market their products directly, both online stores and traditional retailers also turn to social CRM to build trust and respectability. They can accomplish this with content, such as blog posts or videos, or by using influencers and brand ambassadors.

Products that depend on sales consultations, such as banking or insurance solutions, benefit from direct communication with customers via social media as part of social CRM. By doing web monitoring, companies can identify customer needs and, at the same time, convert them into sales with direct sales consultations.

An example:

A customer obtains information on real-estate investments from a number of Facebook pages. Not only can a bank now show her specific advertising offers related to home buying, but can also provide immediate advice by chat if requested to do so. What is important is this: The contact must initiated by the customer, as companies are prohibited by law from contacting customers by direct messaging in Facebook.

Conclusion: Social CRM software has a lot to accomplish

Like other digital marketing activities, social customer relationship management can only be truly effective when it is supported by intelligent software. The extent of the information to be analyzed in itself is too massive to be processed manually. Therefore, every sound CRM system has to incorporate social media at least partially.

Above all, in a promising social CRM software solution, each communication between company and customer, across channels, ought to be logged, thus making it analyzable. Documenting this information is the only way to create the necessary database for a successful long-term strategy. Also needed are easy-to-use functions so that companies can stay in touch with their customers on many channels.

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