Many times at conventions or other industry events I meet or talk with people that I would consider influencers in our industry. Keeping track of them for future engagement though seems to be a problem for me. While I was looking for a solution, I came across a term I hadn't heard of before: Social CRM
Social customer relationship management (SCRM), to put it briefly, is a strategy that is based around customer engagement, basically a place where you manage your current and future contacts.
Social CRM (unlike traditional CRM) actually revolves around the customer. In fact, I would say they are the primary focus. Companies actually talk with and maybe even collaborate with customers to build relationships, solve business problems and potentially convert them into brand advocates.
Customers aside, can all of this be applied if you want to use social CRM for networking purposes? The answer is yes. Social CRM strikes me as especially important in the B2B sector, where you want to keep contacts that can help benefit everyone involved. It can potentially be a very important method of developing collaborative businesses. Imagine if I had a Twitter conversation with you and we hit it off. Months later, we magically connect again, and you realize that your business goals really align with mine. Is there a way for you to recall the conversation we had before without spending hours going through your Twitter feed? The answer again is yes, with the right social CRM solution.
If brands can use social media to convert customers, they too can use these tools to collaborate on business ventures together. If consumers are glued to their smartphones, I'm pretty sure business executives are too. They're just as hyper-connected as you are, what with Twitter and LinkedIn as important social media platforms for professionals.
So where to start?
First and foremost, listen. Its important to listen so you know what potential contacts are saying about your industry, competitors, and even your own brand. I bet you'd be surprised to know that many of your potential contacts already talk about you. Listen to these people and you can get that be that much more informed in your efforts.
- See also: Commun.it – Twitter's Only Real CRM Tool
Like I said before, you can track all contacts manually, but you might be wasting more time that could be instead spent on other pursuits. The real value of social CRM lies in using new types of software and services that can help you track comings and goings. You can even use it to help you automate the process of searching for prospective contacts (like on LinkedIn) and compile a list for you.
Here is just a sampling of the numerous tools out there that you can use:
- Batchbook -This service is geared toward smaller companies who want to build relationships. It allows you to create relationship histories, so you can keep track of conversations that happen in social media. You can also create to-do lists assigned to specific users. You can save tweets, reply to tweets, retweet, and post on Facebook walls. Even better that Batchbook can integrate with Yesware, MailChimp and a host of other apps.
- Engagor – You can analyze and monitor what is being said about your company, competitors and anything you want on social media, news sites, forums, and blogs. It allows you and your team to engage with people who are saying these things.
- Nimble – This service helps you centralize all contacts and communication by merging information from accounts such as IMAP, Google, Skype and other social networks. They can also rank analyze relevant conversations about your company and rank them according to how relevant they are.
- Jive Engage Platform – Jive Software's Jive Engage Platform brings social collaboration technology to the enterprise. Jive's cloud-based service allows enterprise users to create viral communities that connect employees, customers and partners via social media, creating new opportunities for internal collaboration, customer care, social marketing and sales.
- Lithium Social Customer Suite – Lithium Technologies' Social Customer Suite was designed to help companies improve customer engagement. The suite is made up of four components: the Community Platform, LevelUp for Facebook, Social Media Monitoring and the Customer Intelligence Center. The Community Platform uses social conversations to turn customers into extensions of the company's workforce.
- Meltwater Buzz Engage Module – The Meltwater Buzz Engage Module is a social CRM application that blends social analytics, CRM and digital marketing to provide a comprehensive social engagement tool for businesses, brands and agencies.
Social CRM isn't going away anytime soon. Given how useful it is, don't fall behind. Get started using any of the above tools today and you'll see how easy it is to keep track of contacts, and even potential collaborators.