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How social media adds value to CRM

Bruce Harpham | March 24, 2016
If CRM platforms want to connect with front-line sales and marketing staffers, tapping into social signals is not a ‘nice to have,’ but a ‘need to have’ feature.

Distinguishing between signal and noise in social media is becoming easier. Applications such as Relevance Logic categorize social media content into categories such as favorable or unfavorable. Consumer products company Unilever used CrowdFlower to monitor the effectiveness of marketing and advertising for the launch of its Dove Men+Care line of products. In Unilever’s case, CrowdFlower successfully identified positive and negative sentiment for 95 percent of consumer content.

Evaluating social media content for action is an emerging best practice for CRM. Barclays, a large UK bank, used Sentiment Metrics, to monitor the launch of PingIt, a mobile banking app to transfer money. Barclays took the process a step further: diagnosing the reason for negative comments. Customers complained about the inability to transfer funds to users under the age of eighteen. These complaints highlight a process improvement opportunity and allow the company’s customer service division to swing into action.

Additional improvement opportunities may be found by understanding the sales process. Many sales professionals are already using social media to do their work. That prompts the question: how can IT make that process easier and more productive? Time spent manually updating spreadsheets, managing status updates by hand and other processes take away from direct engagement with prospects and customers. Using business process modelling and business analysis methods offer an excellent starting point for IT managers getting started.

Managing CRM effectively: governance considerations

Managing social media from a governance standpoint still matters when in the CRM context.  The best approach is to simply reiterate that existing codes of conduct and professionalism apply across the board. Building on that starting point, what else is needed? Armed with a process and systems view, IT leaders have several points to contribute including data quality and information security best practices. High profile data breaches such as Target’s 2013 incident show that protecting customer data in all locations remains important. 

Building the CMO and CIO relationship

In 2015, Fortune reported that marketing technology is expected to become a $100 billion plus category by 2025. Known as martech (marketing technology), this growing set of services has great potential to increase revenues and profits. Reactive CIOs and IT managers may find themselves left out of the conversation if they do not engage their marketing peers early and often.

Developing a relationship with the organization`s chief marketing officer (CMO) or equivalent leader is the next step forward. This connection will ensure that IT is involved in martech discussions at an early stage. After all, internal IT departments have great insights to offer when it comes to integrating CRM and other technologies into an organization`s technology portfolio. If IT is left out of the picture, there is potential for inefficient spending, technology governance problems and poor implementation.


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