Social Media CRM Strategies
Social Media is a more and more popular term in business environments, generally referring to information freely created and spread by means of social interactions. Online social platforms have experienced within the past few years a boom via the Internet, becoming an interaction catalyst both on an individual level, and for business communities. Software systems profiling the users of these platforms, and which analyze the history and interaction between potential customers, have become more and more popular, being already included in the more advanced CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools.
Social platforms can have a significant contribution in getting to know potential customers, profiling and segmenting them, as well as developing efficient communication channels with them, avoiding traditional ways of promotion.
1. Gathering Information on Consumers
Most social platforms users publicly provide primary information about them (age, sex, location, hobbies, interests, and even favorite movies and music genres). Within the past years there have been more and more debates on the necessity of having personal information security systems, as most people decide to make their personal information public via online environments, just for interacting more easily with other people. Consumer profiling based on preferences or casual chats becomes extremely easy for a company that uses profiling specialized tools integrated with CRM systems. And as social platforms already have global coverage, they become a gold mine for global marketing strategies optimization, for which market segmentation or adapting solutions based on various cultures specific is critical.
2. Quick Promotion
Via social platforms, everyone can promote all kinds of events, products or services, or recommend all kinds of brands within the online community they are part of. For a provider, this means promoting with the speed of light. When a group accepts a new member in a community initiated by a company, each "connector" (the individuals linked with the new member and friends already connected to the new member) shall be immediately notified. This action leads to an instant company promotion, whether we talk about company products or services, or its brand. We can say that social platforms work like a personal recommendation, but multiplied with the number of network members.
3. Access To a Huge Audience
Social media platforms provide the companies with the possibility of accessing millions of people involved in discussions on different topics, personal or professional, and who freely express their opinions in the virtual environment. Platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing or Plaxo provide the companies with the possibility of addressing hundreds of millions of users. And social media tools make this addressing so easy that various services, products or brands can be brought to the attention of a huge audience within minutes. Companies are already aware of the importance of a captive audience and integrate social media tools within online marketing strategies.
4. Better Interaction with Customers
Social platforms provide a direct and personal way of interaction between companies and the customers of their products and services. Probably the most important aspect of being online, often neglected or treated superficially by traditional companies, is the possibility of listening to the wishes or minuses perceived on a private, individual level of discussions between different social categories. This information is extremely valuable for marketing teams that are responsible for developing solutions to meet these needs. For several years, major CRM systems providers have been offering Social CRM capabilities, providing access to important potential customers databases based on predefined profiles, providing companies not only with agility, but with a very good understanding of the real consumer needs, as well.
5. A Platform Open for Discussions
Altogether, social media is an online platform by which people can freely express their points of view, options or complaints. It is critical for a company to track and centralize discussions addressing their own brand, as well as to follow consumers' opinion on competitive products. The most important advantage offered by these platforms is probably the possibility of directly collecting feedback. A company may address questions in specific professional groups, receiving answers both from current customers and potential customers, customers that use solutions from competitors or even directly from the competitors. By regularly collecting, centralizing and analyzing this information, an important support is provided for eliminating flaws, for deciding upon new functionalities or for re-positioning products based on consumer needs.
The popularity of social CRM tools is increasing and they provide far higher possibilities of connection with current or potential customers, of attracting new customers, and of developing stable, long-term relationships. Companies that are aware of the value of close, personal relationships with potential customers have already extended their online presence to understand these needs.
On the other hand, companies need to establish online strategies which are completely separate of offline strategies, to not affect traditional resources or action plans. Social platforms provide additional information and opportunities, but in no event should they replace offline and customer relationship management strategies.