Every day, 24/7 and 365 days a year, consumers voice their opinions about your brand. They review your product and/or service either explicitly via sites like Yelp or share information in comment feeds, updates, posts and tweets.
If they are looking for product support or answers to your technical capabilities, they also may comment directly on your social pages. These customers are not the only ones evaluating your company based on your response – their friends and subscribers are also developing a relationship and can see the public interactions as well.
In today’s increasing social world, social media management (SMM) encompasses more than single-source authoring or in-depth analytics. At the root of SMM is the aggregation of all social aspects to create prospects and support customers through an informal line of communication. Today, consumers opt for reaching out on social media rather than through a “Contact Us” form or 1-800 number, as these methods take too long and users are never really sure if someone has received their information. Social media, conversely, provides an additional, direct platform for connecting customers with enterprises, bridging a gap between social media and customer relationship management (CRM).
World of SMM
In the world of SMM, there are a few core features that are necessary for businesses of all sorts and sizes when looking to merge with their CRM efforts. Let’s break down the importance of monitoring, analytics, and publishing.
Monitor: When consumers update, post or comment about your product/brand on their social networks, you want to know about it, right? After all, social media is a ripe stomping ground for unfiltered, honest and candid opinions. Monitoring the social web enables you to discover these posts that may not be outwardly directed to your company networks or representatives.
For example, say Todd, a marketing professional for one of your high-profile clients, tweets that he is having trouble contacting your brand’s customer support. His tweet does not include your company’s Twitter handle but he has hashtagged the name of the product and your company. Your SMM platform should then be able to pick up on these hashtags because you identified these keywords as phrases of interest.
Ideally, you take this information and pass it along to one of your account managers and/or CRM specialists. This is an issue that might have been overlooked or bypassed had it not been picked up through your SMM tool. The best of breed tools integrate with your CRM platforms, which allows you to take this particular social mention and directly assign it to the appropriate CRM representative. This type of integration helps keep track of the entire process, ensuring that Todd’s issue is in the right hands and ultimately resolved.
Analyze: As you invest your time and marketing dollars on developing and rolling out a social media strategy, it’s important to look at the numbers to ensure your efforts are successful. Taking a look at the analytics gives you that answer.
With over one billion people using the platform, a Facebook page can serve as a great channel of communication between your business and prospects. SMM platforms provide analytics to explain which of your posts were most popular by likes, comments and shares. For example, your customers may respond better to images versus text or video. You can use this information to analyze your social media marketing strategy and tailor your posts. When a user likes, comments or shares one of your posts, you amplify your reach by sharing this information with your users’ friends, followers and subscribers.
If you’ve invested in a marketing campaign, then you’ve poured resources, manpower, time and effort hoping the campaign will result in some quantifiable success. But how do you track its progress? How do you measure whether or not you’re on track? Well, most SMM platforms can track the frequency of posts around a keyword or brand page, the sentiment of these posts, and who the major influencers are. Your platform should also be able to track the number of clicks a post receives. Use this information to measure your campaign progress and make the appropriate adjustments.
As your audience continues to reach out and engage on social networks, make sure your social team is on the look out for particular posts or users who may need to be patched through to support or sales. Perhaps a user has been engaging with your content more than any others – is it time to send him over to your CRM system for proper relationship building?
Publish: Gone are the days of logging-in and logging-out of individual social media accounts to publish to your company pages. A marketing suite is an SMM staple. You should be able to publish to most, if not all, social media networks through a single platform simultaneously. When picking out a marketing suite, look for features such as media integration, post scheduling and a link-shortener tool. Additionally, there should be a review/approval process built into SMM permissions. This is to prevent un-reviewed posts from making it out of your office. Use data from your analytics to target posts to your different customer demographics.
Intersection of SMM and Customer Relations Management (CRM)
Now that you have a feel for what SMM is, let’s move to how it can manage your CRM workflow.
In the above Monitoring section, we covered why monitoring is important to CRM: social serves as an informal line of communication between customers and enterprises. When Todd says he is having trouble contacting your customer support, he is really saying, “I need help … now.” If you fail to reach out and address Todd’s concerns, chances are, he will not be a return-customer or give a positive review.
Word of mouth recommendations are the most trusted forms of advertisement so it’s especially important to keep positive relationships. SMM monitoring enables you to extract this information and assign it to a member of your team. Additionally, some platforms integrate with Zendesk so that you can create tickets and assign these to your customer support. Integrations with Zendesk and SugarCRM help to automate the CRM process. However, you will need an SMM platform to pick up on unsatisfied customers who express their concerns outside of your social pages (i.e. in personal comments and posts made available only to the customers’ friends and family).
So what about sales? Several SMM platforms integrate with Salesforce. This enables you to track the web activity and clicks generated from marketing. You can track clicks and impressions while also identifying trends generated by your social pages. An SMM platform will then take this information and integrate it into your analytics, helping you better understand what content and activities attracts the most prospects.
These are the core features of the SMM space and you have a variety of options to choose from. When looking into vendors, consider a tool that enables you to publish to multiple sources from one dashboard but that also includes monitoring and analytics across the social and general web. You will be able to access analytics across social media, measuring the sentiment and potential leads of individual posts. This information can be used to adjust your marketing strategy and maximize your social-generated sales pipeline.
However, if you lack the actual platform, how are you going to be able to know what your customers are saying? How best to support them? How to improve your CRM workflow? You won’t. So get out there, decide on an SMM platform that fits your needs and start your customers’ experiences.
Author bio: Trevor is on the Viralheat marketing team, where he spends the day perusing YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, TechCrunch, Wired, and Mashable for the latest social and general tech news. Despite his published work in Wired and across the web, Trevor will not consider himself a real writer until he has published a novel and wakes up in the morning forgetting to remind himself that he is a writer. You can reach him at trevor [at] Viralheat [dot] com.