Ten Ways Social Media is Changing Sales and CRM

by Jennifer Schiff

Social CRM experts from BatchBlue and JitterJam provide tips on how businesses can monitor and use social media sites to improve customer relationship management and the bottom line.

More and more businesses of all sizes are using social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter and Foursquare, as a way to better engage customers and increase sales. However, just having a Facebook page or a Twitter account is no guarantee of success.

So eCRM Guide asked Pamela O'Hara, the co-founder and president of BatchBlue, the maker of BatchBook social CRM software, and Margaret Donnelly, the vice president of marketing and business development at JitterJam Social CRM, how companies can leverage popular social media sites, as well as YouTube and Flickr and blogs, to enhance and improve their customer relationship management (CRM).


Social Media Monitoring and CRM Tips

Herewith are 10 ways social CRM can benefit your business.

1. Social CRM can help you target your marketing to key segments. "Brands are looking to see ROI from their social marketing activities," said Donnelly. "By using customers' interests, conversations, location, demographic and other data gathered from various social media sites, marketers can capture and utilize that intelligence to create very focused messaging and offers to motivate their contacts to act. This enables the brand to see the entire cycle of customer development from their social marketing efforts, from initial discovery to transaction and beyond."

2. Social media monitoring can help you uncover potential customers and find out which customers are influencers. "People are talking about products, brands, product categories, wants and needs at a staggering rate [online]," noted JitterJam's Donnelly. Monitoring the social web enables businesses to monitor the chatter and sentiment about their products and services as well as the competition's, she said. "More importantly, social CRM enables businesses to identify current customers — including the ones who are potential influencers and advocates for your brand — as well as prospective customers," said Donnelly.

That's why Donnelly advises business owners to monitor conversations around their brand, their products and services and their competitors, using appropriate keywords. "For example, a backpacking products company could search for people talking about backpacking and hiking trips," she said. "Gathering these social conversations [in one place like your CRM system] enables you to track the volume of conversations about your brand or market over time," and then use that information to better engage and interact with your customers.

3. Social CRM can help you monitor what customers are saying about your brand and your products (for better or worse). "Monitor your product name, your company name, or just keywords for your industry, and then pull those bits of information into your CRM system," said O'Hara. That will help you get a true sense of what customers (potential and existing) are saying about your products, services and business, so you can adjust or target your marketing and development strategies accordingly.

4. Social media can be a wonderful customer service tool — especially for countering negative comments. Monitor those sites where people can leave comments about your business, products and service, advised O'Hara. That way, if or when someone has something negative to say, you will know right away and can respond immediately. Responding online, in a public forum, in a sympathetic and helpful way "goes a long way to showing that person that you're listening, that you care — and it also shows everyone else who's privy to that conversation that you're there and you care and you're taking the time to reach out to someone who had a bad experience."

5. Social networks are like having a free focus group. When Kent Krueger, chief dog spoiler at SitStay.com, a maker of "good for your dog supplies," needed help picking a label for the company's new line of SitStay-branded dog treats, he turned to Facebook. Specifically, he turned to the (then) over 21,000 dog lovers (that number has since risen to over 25,000) who "liked" SitStay.com's Facebook page to help him choose which one to use. Not only did SitStay.com's Facebook fans quickly identify a favorite, they made the label even better by pointing out that "Made in the USA" was missing, "which is very important to our demographic and dog treats," Krueger said.


Social Media Monitoring and CRM Tips

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6. Social media can build community and lead to new opportunities. "We've run a Twitter chat for the past couple years (we're actually evolving it shortly into a video chat), where we invited small business owners to come once a week," said O'Hara. "We talk about different issues for small businesses — how to use social media, what virtual collaboration tools people are using, how to manage your finances," and other topics of interest to small business owners. As a result, there are now more than 20,000 people following that Twitter account, and it's been a great way for O'Hara and BatchBlue to connect with business owners and has even led to several business opportunities the company might not have found otherwise.

7. Social media can be a great promotion and sales tool. JetBlue set up @JetBlueCheeps on Twitter to promote "great deals on last minute flights every Tuesday." And the account has amassed over 150,000 followers (who have helped fill up planes). Similarly, many bricks-and-mortar businesses are using Foursquare, a mobile social tool, to engage their mobile customers, offering them discounts and prizes like a free cup of coffee or a coupon for 10% off their next purchase when they check in on Foursquare at their store or restaurant or business, which often leads to actual purchases.

8. Social media can help establish you as an expert people want to buy from. For example, one real estate agent O'Hara worked with set up a Facebook page where she posted pictures, videos and information about events in her community, giving prospective home buyers a real flavor of the community and establishing herself as a kind of trusted friend and guide — someone who people would want to buy a house from.

9. Use Facebook to let customers get to know your business and the people behind it. Use sites like Flickr and Facebook to post pictures of your products, either on their own or being used by customers, fun events sponsored by your business, as well as employees — images that accurately portray your company culture and give people a true sense of who you are and what you do. People tend to trust and buy from companies they feel they know and have a relationship with.

10. Use YouTube to educate your customers. Use video networks like YouTube or Vimeo to post helpful how-to guides that show your customers how to set up or use your products, advised O'Hara. This form of outreach and customer education engenders loyalty — and can help you attract a wider audience for your products and services.

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff is a regular contributor to Internet.com and runs a blog for and about small businesses.


  This article was originally published on Wednesday Dec 15th 2010
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