Making Use of Social Media Data

Businesses place significant value on the role of social media when it comes to supporting sales, marketing, and customer support goals. An organization's social channels allow it to reach customers instantly, understand customer needs, gauge brand sentiment, determine how it compares competitively, and much more. Many business professionals are gaining greater access to their company's social data but are not quite sure what to do with it. If you are among them, implementing social CRM processes can help you organize, analyze, and act upon social data to achieve revenue-generating benefits.

A social CRM or contact management system can function as your business command center, supplementing contact, company, and industry information with social data, including profiles and comments. Integrating your CRM database with Microsoft Office, Gmail, email marketing, and other Web services can help you better leverage this customer intelligence.

With these essentials in place, you can begin building processes that aid business development. A sales representative, for example, may view a customer's LinkedIn profile inside his or her contact record to identify similar prospects who previously viewed the profile, then send those prospects a connection request or a private message or include them in an industry-specific email campaign.

Social CRM systems also let users proactively communicate with individuals or groups of customers and prospects using specific social channels right from within the system. An intuitive system can set hashtags to manage Twitter communications with a particular set of customers, such as a user group—broadcasting relevant information just for them, and receiving feedback just from them on any topics of choice.

Social process integration

Taking inventory of your company's core social media channels will help you identify which communication processes are most vital to your business. Examples include:

  • Establishing processes that connect customers who "like" your company's Facebook page with sales reps who can contact them directly. A process could also scan for negative comments about your product and automatically open a support ticket for someone to reach out to that customer.
  • Finding new leads by searching social profiles for connections through your best customers, with the rationale being "a business friend of a business friend is a potential friend of my business."
  • Sending welcome letters to customers via their social profiles that let them know who you are and that special Facebook friend offers are available.
  • Engaging people in their preferred social networks where they might also share referrals about their positive customer experiences.

Such activities develop warm leads for your sales team and create groups you can nurture with content marketing campaigns. Meanwhile, your CRM application tracks all customer interactions—social and otherwise—plus cross-functional employee actions that occur along the way.

Social business analytics

Feeding your social data into analytics engines can provide data visualizations that help you recognize and drill into trends regarding your best sales influencers, brand or product sentiment, and who is or isn't being engaged properly within your customer base. These processes combine elements of social, mobile, and analytics to fully leverage the multiple customer data sources in your contact and customer management system.

Parsing through social media feeds to identify actionable keywords or phrases is another valuable process. For example, searching customer and prospect profiles for words indicating merger and acquisition activity can help a change management consultant identify new business development opportunities, since M&A activity suggest his or her services may be applicable.

Social CRM systems are expanding their value by better applying the insights people share via social networks to sales opportunities. It is ultimately the responsibility of businesses to leverage social tools within their existing systems, or implement new systems that best support sales and customer support goals. Keeping these kinds of social data integrations in mind can aid your business in either case.

Benjamin Lederer is senior product manager for the Sage ACT! contact and customer management system at Sage North America, supporting more than 3 million individuals and 60,000 additional business work groups, His group creates automation systems that help small and midsize businesses achieve their sales, marketing, and customer experience goals.

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