MediaVantage - The premier web-based application for media intelligence and public relations management
 

Tag: Social CRM

We keep coming back to this idea of Social CRM and its unstoppable momentum, not just because of its enormous implications on our industry, but because it is profoundly changing the factors that drive successful enterprises across the board. That’s why, when we came across this graphic from Chess Media (courtesy of an article posted to Mashable), we had to pass it along:

The snapshot is comprehensive in that it acknowledges the necessary interplay between both digital and traditional communications tools, as well the relationship between “man and machine”-i.e., human actions/reactions working in tandem with automated monitoring/response mechanisms.

But in looking at this graphic, we’re can’t help but wonder if, in our fascination with Social CRM, we have overlooked the underlying heart of the matter: That the concept of “social media” as we know it is becoming increasingly irrelevant as that of “social engagement” takes its place as the driver of successful communications with consumer audiences.

This evolution from thinking in terms of social media to thinking in terms of social engagement is a natural one if you think of the former as, say, an adjective and the latter as an adverb; one just describes a thing, while the other describes an action. And, ultimately, aren’t the “actions” what generate the data that fuels the Social CRM engine in the first place?

 
With new integration tools popping up left and right, Facebook appears to be further infiltrating every corner of the social Web. In doing so, it’s also challenging the school of thought that the most effective social media strategies are those that leverage different platforms for different means while collectively working towards the same end.  With this model, organizations might use Facebook to cultivate a community of brand ambassadors, YouTube to optimize video content, Twitter to triage customer service issues, and so on. Then, they will use available tools to cross-promote these various embassies and, in turn, create seamless online visibility.
 
This is the premise on which social CRM is based, where executives from across the organization, each armed with data that corresponds with their specific activities, come together to form an integrated strategy incorporating insights gleaned from various consumer touchpoints.  But, with Facebook (and Facebook-centric apps/services) taking over the social Web, will this platform end up serving as the ultimate backend for social CRM activities?
 
We’ve already contemplated the implications that using Facebook as a customer service tool could have on reputation management (on that note, here’s another similar tool, courtesy of Parature). Based on the aforementioned separate-but-integrated social media approach, we were inclined to think this wasn’t such a good idea; after all, do you want to draw attention to customer service issues in the same space that you cultivate and engage brand advocates?
 
However, it’s looking more and more like it doesn’t matter if you want this or not: Facebook’s new social graph makes it “so all websites can work together to build a more comprehensive map of connections and create better, more social experiences for everyone,” according to a blog post from Mark Zuckerberg himself. Right now, this means “liking” and tagging things outside Facebook’s domain, and transferring data so openly that many believe it’s the end of privacy as we know it. But will this ultimately lead to Facebook eliminating the need/absorbing the functionalities of other consumer-facing technologies? Only time will tell, but we’re hedging our bets now—are you? 

Let’s face it: We’ve been obsessed with social CRM lately, and the deluge of recent Facebook announcements hasn’t helped to distract us-largely because these announcements play directly into social CRM’s warp-speed evolution, of course.

Last week, we noted three intertwined Facebook developments-the switch from “Become a Fan” to “Like,” the introduction of Community Pages and the new option for users to link “liked”/Community pages to their profiles under the “Likes and Interests” section-and contemplated their possible impacts on customer relationship management. Since then, we’ve been following the various applications that have sprung up around the Facebook’s recommendation widget and the idea of a public “Like” stream-that is, real-time data that shows what’s popular in your social ecosystem right now.

One such application is LikeButton.me, a “collection of links shared by your Facebook friends from most popular sites” (see image below). It’s a robust, real-time content aggregator that rivals Twitter-focused services like Tweetmeme, which lets users know what’s hot on Twitter in any given moment.

Our interest, not surprisingly, lies in the public “Like” stream’s implications on the ability to measure sentiment and, in turn, to funnel this data into the social CRM pipeline. A new report from Altimeter Group, entitled “Social Marketing Analytics: A New Framework for Measuring Results in Social Media,” addresses sentiment measures in the context of innovation key performance indicators, saying:
“Sentiment is only possible to attain using automated analysis available from commercial social media monitoring technologies. Obviously all brands hope for positive sentiment, but marketers and PR professionals should be able to harness and learn from any type of sentiment especially when it comes to seeking feedback for new product or service ideas. Expectations should be adjusted according to a baseline of consistent results. However, sentiment can change quickly”-hence the importance of real-time monitoring.

Our question, then, is what value a “Like” has in analyzing advocacy and engagement. Is this a metric that can inform social CRM strategies? If so, how, and at what point? We’d love to hear your thoughts …

Digerati are all a-twitter over Facebook’s slew of recent announcements, all of which have major implications-not only for the ongoing socialization of the Web as we know it, but also for the way brands interact with consumer audiences.

The first such announcement came at the end of March, when the company began alerting advertisers that it would be changing the language on Facebook pages so that users will connect by clicking “Like” rather than “Become a Fan.” The reason, according to Facebook (via Mashable):

“‘Like’ offers a light-weight, consistent way for users to connect with the things they are passionate about. This lighter-weight action for connecting to a Page on Facebook means that users will be making more connections across the site, including your Facebook Page … in fact, people click ‘Like’ almost two times more than they click ‘Become a Fan’ everyday.”

The announcement was met with skepticism, as it confuses the widely understood notion of what becoming a fan really means: that you’ll receive the page’s status updates in your newsfeed (this is still the case with the switch to “Like”). Beyond that, though, it also begs the question of how it will change the relationship between brands and those who “Like” them. After all, the act of fanning a page had an automatic barrier to entry for brand haters, as doing so resulted in an automatic update that showed up in all their friends’ newsfeeds-i.e., “Kevin became a fan of dna13 (which we encourage you to do!). This proclamation would have likely discouraged a passive critic from fanning the page for the sole purpose of being a heckler. With this barrier now gone, brands should pay extra-close attention to any such hecklers who might relish this newfound anonymity.

Immediately following the switch from “Become a Fan” to “Like,” Facebook added a new category into the fold along with profiles, pages and groups: Community pages, which are meant for the non-brand-owned, unofficial Facebook pages that represent a topic, not a company, celebrity, etc. (see image below).

The main difference between traditional pages and Community pages comes with scale: once the number of fans-er, “likes”-of a Community page reaches a certain threshold, all users will have administrative rights, much like with a wiki. This gives users the ability to “like” topics in addition to brands. Plus, instead of pushing status updates out to users’ newsfeeds, these Community pages pull IN public content from relevant status updates from around the platform.

Now, fast-forward to yesterday, when Facebook added another yet another layer to the “Like” change with the news that “liked” pages and Community pages can now be liked to profile pages and displayed under the “Likes and Interests” section. This is yet another amplification of the “socialization of the Web” trend, with Facebook’s integration capabilities continuing to extend beyond the platform’s proverbial walls (no pun intended). Case in point: The Taggable bookmarklet, which debuted on April 20th, gives users the ability to tag their friends in photos that live on other Web sites outside of Facebook through the Facebook Connect plug-in.

We know this is a lot to digest all at once, but we’re interested to know what you think of these changes. Will changing “Become a Fan” to “Like” introduce new threats from brand detractors? What do the change’s implications for measuring sentiment have on the evolution of social CRM? Let us know what you think, and we’ll keep you posted as we process the developments as well.

In the meantime, for more thoughts on social CRM, check out dna13′s newest white paper, “Social CRM Changes the Game for Sales, Marketing and Communications Professionals.”

Digerati are all a-twitter over Facebook’s slew of recent announcements, all of which have major implications-not only for the ongoing socialization of the Web as we know it, but also for the way brands interact with consumer audiences.

The first such announcement came at the end of March, when the company began alerting advertisers that it would be changing the language on Facebook pages so that users will connect by clicking “Like” rather than “Become a Fan.” The reason, according to Facebook (via Mashable):

“‘Like’ offers a light-weight, consistent way for users to connect with the things they are passionate about. This lighter-weight action for connecting to a Page on Facebook means that users will be making more connections across the site, including your Facebook Page … in fact, people click ‘Like’ almost two times more than they click ‘Become a Fan’ everyday.”

The announcement was met with skepticism, as it confuses the widely understood notion of what becoming a fan really means: that you’ll receive the page’s status updates in your newsfeed (this is still the case with the switch to “Like”). Beyond that, though, it also begs the question of how it will change the relationship between brands and those who “Like” them. After all, the act of fanning a page had an automatic barrier to entry for brand haters, as doing so resulted in an automatic update that showed up in all their friends’ newsfeeds-i.e., “Kevin became a fan of dna13 (which we encourage you to do!). This proclamation would have likely discouraged a passive critic from fanning the page for the sole purpose of being a heckler. With this barrier now gone, brands should pay extra-close attention to any such hecklers who might relish this newfound anonymity.

Immediately following the switch from “Become a Fan” to “Like,” Facebook added a new category into the fold along with profiles, pages and groups: Community pages, which are meant for the non-brand-owned, unofficial Facebook pages that represent a topic, not a company, celebrity, etc. (see image below).

The main difference between traditional pages and Community pages comes with scale: once the number of fans-er, “likes”-of a Community page reaches a certain threshold, all users will have administrative rights, much like with a wiki. This gives users the ability to “like” topics in addition to brands. Plus, instead of pushing status updates out to users’ newsfeeds, these Community pages pull IN public content from relevant status updates from around the platform.

Now, fast-forward to yesterday, when Facebook added another yet another layer to the “Like” change with the news that “liked” pages and Community pages can now be liked to profile pages and displayed under the “Likes and Interests” section. This is yet another amplification of the “socialization of the Web” trend, with Facebook’s integration capabilities continuing to extend beyond the platform’s proverbial walls (no pun intended). Case in point: The Taggable bookmarklet, which debuted on April 20th, gives users the ability to tag their friends in photos that live on other Web sites outside of Facebook through the Facebook Connect plug-in.

We know this is a lot to digest all at once, but we’re interested to know what you think of these changes. Will changing “Become a Fan” to “Like” introduce new threats from brand detractors? What do the change’s implications for measuring sentiment have on the evolution of social CRM? Let us know what you think, and we’ll keep you posted as we process the developments as well.

In the meantime, for more thoughts on social CRM, check out dna13′s newest white paper, “Social CRM Changes the Game for Sales, Marketing and Communications Professionals.”

United Airlines is no stranger to the damage that can be done when a customer complaint goes viral in social media-the “United Breaks Guitars” YouTube trilogy has been so widely cited by social and traditional media alike, it doesn’t bear repeating here. However, it appears as though the behemoth airline brand has learned from past debacles, having committed itself to proactively monitoring online channels and, in doing so, intercepting a customer issue before it reached critical mass.

In this instance, the unhappy customer was Rachel D., a disabled woman who used her LiveJournal page to describe the poor treatment she received from airline employees upon landing in San Francisco on April 10. According to the post, she asked an attendant to help her retrieve her luggage because her disability-the result of a spinal injury-precluded her from doing it herself. The employee’s response, according to Rachel’s post:

“If I helped everyone do that all day then MY back would be killing me by the end of the day!”

Needless to say, Rachel’s readers didn’t take kindly to the response. Within 48 hours, the post had more than 700 comments and was even picked up by Consumerist.com. But someone else had picked up the story, too: United Airlines itself. Company reps posted the following tweets on its Twitter feed:

  • “What the customer describes is unacceptable. We are working to reach her to offer apology, & identifying the employees involved.”
  • “We take serving customers with disabilities very seriously. Trying to contact the customer to apologize & resolve. Thank you for feedback.”

Granted, the laudability of response time is all relative. Real-time (or as close to it as possible) responses are becoming the rule rather than the exception thanks to today’s hyperactive flow of information, with the best-in-classes examples of online crisis management being those that never became public. But United’s response-which came within 48 hours, despite the fact that the LiveJournal blog wasn’t a highly trafficked/influential source-demonstrates a new, proactive approach to monitoring digital channels. Plus, their use of Twitter to address it underscores an openness to social media that appeared to be absent just a year ago.

Do you agree that this example shows United moving in the right direction?

Facebook is continuing its trajectory toward total market domination, recently making big moves to overtake longstanding search leaders and become a top traffic driver. According to a report by Citi Investment Research, Facebook’s U.S. search queries grew by 48% last month, bringing the company to 2.7% market share (to put that in perspective, the social network topped AOL’s 2.5% share). 

This surge in Facebook’s search queries comes in the wake of its most recent redesign, which put a spotlight on search and user-friendly sorting capabilities directly on the home page (see image). Of course, it doesn’t come as a shock that this “non-search engine” is becoming just that; the emergence of social search technologies has made real-time data a focal point for online users, and platforms like Facebook and Twitter are ideal conduits (Facebook introduced its own real-time search functionality in August 2009).

There’s no doubt that the socialization of search will continue as unexpected destinations compete for market share. What is in question, however, is how companies will adapt their CRM strategies to accommodate this new search environment. As we’ve noted in multiple blog posts recently, the ability to leverage social technologies for customer service has completely upended traditional models. The challenge comes when social search pulls these conversations into search results, or when users completely bypass traditional search engines and instead begin (and end) their search experience on Facebook.  

Consider this in the context of the now-infamous @ComcastCares Twitter case study. The brand’s use of Twitter to manage customer service issues was universally lauded, but imagine typing “Comcast” into Google and seeing a list of tweeted complaints among the top results. To avoid muddying your brand’s search visibility it’s important to:

  • Monitor conversations among influencers as they happen to identify issues before they escalate; and
  • Triage said issues in non-searchable sub-channels—i.e., direct messages on Twitter, direct emails/chat on Facebook email, etc.

What about you—do you have any anecdotes where you effectively managed a customer issue through social media while maintaining minimum visibility?

The rate at which social technologies emerge and rise to ubiquity is more akin to a full-force fire hose than a gentle ebb and flow. Suffice it to say, tracking the development of new tools on a granular level is all but impossible. However, every so often, a new technology’s trajectory from introduction to widespread adoption is so steep, it commands the full attention of everyone who’s tuned into the digital landscape.

This has been the case for location-based social networking services like Foursquare and Gowalla, whose meteoric rise in popularity has piqued the interest of everything from corporations and media brands to established social media powerhouses.

The advantages for organizations across the board are compelling: these social services allow users to customize their interactions based on their location and their personal activities. By checking into specific venues-a coffee shop, airport, hotel, retail outlet, etc.-they are communicating with their network of friends, establishing their influence over a specific brand (“superusers” are awarded elite status based on the number of times they check in) and collecting rewards, from badges to coupons and freebies. These services present huge opportunities for marketers to identify, reach and reward their most influential consumers in the most tangible way possible: in real time, on their mobile phones, when they are at the point of purchase.

Now, based on how enthusiastically location-based services have been embraced by consumers, other digital behemoths are following suit. Case in point: Last week, Twitter activated geolocation capabilities within its platform to enable users to pull up location-based information from individual tweets. Likewise, according to reports, Facebook is expected to launch a location service in the very near future. Not only would this give users a way to share their physical location through status updates, but it would also give developers the ability to activate the service in their own applications by making the necessary APIs available.

What does this mean for the evolution of social CRM and everything that goes along with it, from monitoring conversations to managing customer service? It has enormous potential to change the game (yet again): Imagine expressing dissatisfaction with a product while engaging with it in a store and then having an employee approach you moments later to address the issue directly.

Is this the future of customer service?

Lately, we’ve really homed in on the booming social CRM trend, which is further underscored by Get Satisfaction‘s recent integration with Facebook. The “instant-on support community for sharing answers, ideas and solutions” just announced that it is bringing its popular social CRM tool to Facebook with the Social Engagement Hub, a new app that enables brands to integrate the entire customer support experience into their Facebook fan pages.

According to Mashable, the app will exist as its own Facebook page tab that includes Ask a Question, Share an Idea, Report a Problem and Give Praise functionalities, which can be leveraged by brand representatives to address consumers’ needs directly on the platform. Plus, Get Satisfaction offers brands the ability to customize the app to meet their individual needs.

From a data and CRM standpoint, the marriage of Facebook and Get Satisfaction’s Social Engagement Hub sounds like a match made in customer service heaven, reminiscent of another “ah ha!” moment in social media history: the realization that Twitter was the new customer call center.

However, from a reputation management standpoint, it’s arguable whether companies should air their potentially dirty laundry in a highly social, highly searchable public forum (after all, customer service is often a mechanism for identifying and mitigating potential crises). Social media best practices tell us that every tool/platform serves a specific purpose for individual brands and their target stakeholders, and the best strategy is an integrated approach that effectively leverages each technology’s unique advantages. If your Facebook page serves to engage consumers through an interactive experience, do you really want to throw customer service into the mix? Do the CRM benefits outweigh the potential risk of a full-blown customer service crisis unfolding directly on your brand’s fan page?

What do you think?

As social media’s proliferation added new dimensions to standard customer relations practices, companies began responding accordingly, even going so far as to appoint “Community Managers,” people whose sole (a deceptively understated descriptor, given the complexity of the job) responsibility was managing these online conversations. By 2010, the number of companies with Community Managers titles was high enough to officially make this a mainstream corporate position (as evidenced by this list, compiled by the Altimeter Group’s own Jeremiah Owyang).

The Community Manager role’s formalization is a step towards bridging communications, marketing and even sales, as the conversations these executives moderate have implications on each business function. Likewise, the increasingly robust analytics they can access through an array of online tools are capable of advancing each of the threes’ strategic direction. In essence, Community Managers embody the new generation of customer relationship management: social CRM.

Customer relationship management, or CRM, became popular in the 1990s following the emergence of database marketing in the previous decade. Borne out of the need for a scientific approach to automating sales activities, CRM matured over time to encompass other consumer-facing business departments, including marketing and customer service, but sales data remained its primary engine.
As we all know now, social media and digital technologies would ultimately upend such standardized processes by shifting the balance of power from organizations to their consumer audiences. At the same time, the elements that defined its three core pillars-customers, relationships and management-changed drastically:

  • Customer: from people to communities
  • Relationship: from processes to conversations
  • Management: from data to content

Suffice it to say, CRM underwent major recalibrating to transition from analog to digital, which brings us to its present, “social” iteration. However, with newly adjusted organizational structures (hence the normalization of Community Manager roles) and digitized CRM to match, who owns the ever-growing pool of data? And, perhaps more important, what needs to be done with it to maximize the new opportunities it can create, and the bottom-line results it can deliver?

The short answer, unfortunately, isn’t so short. From an outside-in perspective, who owns it-sales, marketing or communications-doesn’t really matter because, as Owyang put it, “Customers do not care what department you are in.” However, from an inside-out perspective, we know that unaligned, out of sync or feuding departments don’t translate to positive results in the modern business environment.

More than that, though, is the realization that, for the first time, CRM data actually stands to close the proverbial loop and ensure the sales, marketing and communications functions are all working within the same pipeline. Indeed, as consumer data collected on the marketing side becomes more sophisticated and, in turn, can analyze characteristics like influence and intent to buy, there will be a major push to actually sync up with the sales pipeline to identify, monitor, prioritize, triage, engage and report on individuals’ brand interactions. Likewise, the communications activities taking place in social media generate robust metrics that can assess consumers’ preferences and consumption habits, and inform engagement strategies at their moment of interest.

As far as HOW social CRM will bridge communications, sales and marketing, the complete answer remains to be seen. However, communications management vendors are taking steps in the right direction with real-time monitoring services and workflow synchronization capabilities. At the same time, sales solutions are integrating collaboration tools directing into their CRM systems, as evidenced by Salesforce’s recent roll out of Chatter. The key will be finding a meeting point where both data sets can be merged and applied to holistic solutions-surely the new “Holy Grail” of the modern communications era.