There are a number of potential opportunities available when using social media to manage business relationships.
How to use social media to manage relationships
The term “customer relationship management” (CRM) has become slightly outdated. We’re no longer managing relationships with customers only. Many of the people now exposed to and interacting with your brand are yet to become customers – social media has played a large part in this shift.
Social media subjects brands to the public forum – anyone can talk to you or about you and everyone can see what your brand says. All of these conversations can be seen by everyone, so even if I’m not a customer, you’ll still want to manage my perceptions and possibly rope me into a relationship with your brand.
Now the relationship often precedes the purchase. Any person who interacts with your brand, be they an existing or potential customer, is worth building a relationship with.
How does social edia fit into CRM?
Social media is a viable marketing tool, specifically when it comes to growing communities and brand awareness. However, while it’s often hailed as a strong acquisition tool, many brands don’t take it further into the CRM lifecycle. Social media is a mass communication tool and very effective when applied to the aforementioned marketing objectives, but in the words of Joan Baez: “The easiest kind of relationship is with ten thousand people, the hardest is with one.”
To use social media to build brand advocates and develop one-on-one relationships, we need to focus more on relationships with individuals and tailor our social media communications more carefully. The weird thing with social media is that you’re essentially building a public forum and community in order to build personal relationships.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Leave channel choice to the customer – they appreciate options. Often customers have preferences as to what kinds of communication they’d like to receive on which medium, ie mobile, social network, email, in person, etc. Social customers expect you to be present and available on their channels.
- Consider what kind of relationships you want to build on each of your communication channels. For instance, you might want to use social media to extend invitations to a private party, but the VIP guests might feel more valued if they receive a hand-delivered invitation.
- If social media is the only way you have to contact them, consider sourcing more contact details and add them to a profiled database of customers. Remember you must request their permission first! Once you have these details, you can move the conversation more into one-on-one channels, or even in person. Personalised communication will make your customers feel valued – a good starting point for a long-lasting relationship.
Why should brands make a point of collecting social customer data?
It helps you get a 360° view of the customer. Social media is a great source of customer insight – you can see the connections between customers and their interests. This makes it easier for the brand to personalise campaigns, or plan engagement points and rewards.
Loyal customers are your best source of word-of-mouth referrals. In identifying your best social engagers, you create opportunities for public rewards and conversation. It further gives you a group of people who could possibly collaborate with you to ensure that word about your next promotion, competition or campaign will spread.
Carmia Lureman is a rapidly evolving online geek. A writer from a print media background who stumbled into the online industry by chance, she is embarrassingly enthusiastic about email marketing, relationship management (CRM), social media marketing and online reputation management. She currently works for Quirk as their Email Champion.