Five Keys for Using Social CRM with Your Startup

Five Keys for Using Social CRM with Your Startup

There’s a good chance that you know social media matters; every startup has social media marketing high on its priorities list. However, there’s also the high probability that you’re taking an undisciplined social media approach that’s based primarily on posting updates and acquiring as many followers as possible.

This is a mistake, especially for the time-strapped startup. While winning at social media certainly requires content and a following, most startups won’t find social success until they master the art of deeply connecting their social media presence with their marketing, sales and customer service efforts.

Social CRM can help, because it serves as the glue that brings together social media interactions with these core business functions. When social connects with your CRM, you can tie specific social interactions to your marketing campaigns, your sales efforts, and your customer support.

Here are five keys for effectively using social CRM with your startup.

1. Know Your Objectives

Social media is great for wasting time, and so is social CRM unless you know how to use it. One of the biggest social CRM mistakes that startups make is outlining an amorphous goal such as “increase engagement” or “broaden reach” without tying it back to business impact.

Using social CRM properly starts with defining objectives against business goals and looking at the value exchange that your startup is giving customers in exchange for data.

Knowing how social media ties into your goals, what data you should collect and how it will be used is instrumental in not wasting your valuable time with a haphazard social CRM strategy.

For instance, you might use product category mentions on Twitter as a way to stock new sales leads and also for tracking the effectiveness of specific marketing campaigns.

2. Focus on Metrics

Tweet “@agilecrm More than 80 percent of small businesses use social media for #growth, according to a 2014 study by research firm, TNS Global. Yet, only 44 percent tried to measure it.”

Your startup should take a more scientific approach because social CRM success starts with knowing what is working and what is not. That means focusing on metrics.

If knowing your social media objectives is the first step, minding metrics against your desired outcomes is the second one. You should set up a robust measurement framework that connects with your business objectives and lets you track progress in real-time for meaningful adjustment.

When you reply on Facebook, for instance, you might track how these interactions influence sales conversion rates. Or if you promote your blog via Twitter, you might track how many new visitors each tweet yields.

3. Take a Holistic Approach

Even with a startup, there’s the tendency to compartmentalize marketing, sales and customer service as distinct business functions. Yet, all parts of a business are engaged with the customer and interface with them through social media. Making the most of social CRM requires a holistic approach where all three business functions are talking together and sharing social data.

Your CRM system is most effective when it is the focal point for the entire organization, so make sure that marketing, sales and customer service are all using the CRM and the social data you collect and interface with is shared across these business functions.

One sign that your startup is taking a holistic approach is when all business functions are using and adding to the same data records.

4. Don’t Expect a Unified System

The holy grail of social CRM is a system that brings together all customer data, social signals, interactions and campaigns, and products like Agile CRM do a pretty good job at realizing that dream. However, changing technology and self-interest from the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and others mean that it is almost impossible for a single CRM system to encompass and work with all the data. Some social media data is walled off, and some vendors don’t play nice with others.

Your social CRM, even Agile CRM, will not be an island unto itself.

Instead, make your social CRM a hub for several systems and data sources that come together in aggregate to present a full customer picture. You can build this hub with connecting services such as Zapier and smart import/export routines that connect the various data pools. What data you should connect comes back to the specific objectives and data use you have set.

5. Experiment and Adjust

Perhaps the one thing that changes faster than a startup is the rules of social media. From new communities that emerge to policy shifts such as those made by Facebook, the social media landscape is constantly evolving. So, too, must your social CRM strategy.

Effectively using social CRM requires constant experimentation and adjustment, so don’t build your social CRM processes and then leave them on autopilot. It is important that you continually refine and realign your customer-facing processes so that your social CRM stays useful. As your business grows and evolves, so too must your social CRM strategy.

For instance, you might periodically comment on trends but find that it rarely results in new sales or more leads. This would be the time for adjusting what you push to your social networks so marketing efforts stay relevant.

Having a social media presence is easy. Making it useful takes a little more thought and effort.

Social CRM can help make social useful in a big way by tying interactions to your marketing, sales and customer service efforts. Getting there, however, requires clear objectives, a constant focus on metrics, holistic thinking, a little integration effort and constant adjustment. Put these concepts into practice and start seeing actual real-world benefits from your social media effort.

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Peter Kowalke

Peter Kowalke is a journalist and editor who has been covering business, technology and lifestyle trends for more than 20 years.

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