Transforming into a Social CRM Enterprise: Being Successful at Social Media Often Requires Organizational Change Management. Here Are Some Tips to Follow

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It's no secret that the power of social media lies in the connections it creates. More companies, however, are also realizing that good social CRM connections can improve their bottom line as well.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is a case in point. The company's Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program provides various ways for hotel guests to share their travel experiences and photos with family, friends, and other hotel guests on social media networks. As an added benefit, guests who check into one of its hotels with their Facebook or Foursquare account can receive "Starpoints," which can be applied toward free breakfasts and room upgrades.

Such social media efforts have helped to double the loyalty program's membership over the past five years. But, perhaps, more importantly, members are spending 60 percent more than they did five years ago.

These results would understandably whet any customer strategist's appetite. And, in fact, the promise of social CRM has done just that: Gartner is expecting social CRM sales to exceed $1 billion by the end of this year, up from $820 million last year.

However, whether your organization's goal for social media is to improve sales, marketing, and/or customer service efforts, one thing is clear--success does not happen overnight. To fully harness the power of social media to engage, interact with, and sell to their target customers, organizations must be willing to embrace collective change. And that takes proper planning and patience.

As with any disruptive technology, one of the biggest bottlenecks to success is changing employees' attitudes and behaviors regarding innovation. In Community Roundtable's "State of Community Management 2011" report, 28 percent of survey respondents said organizational culture was the greatest barrier to social technology usage.

"Enterprises are large and their cultures are well-defined," observes Paul Greenberg, president of The 56 Group and author of CRM at the Speed of Light. "They are legacy cultures--cultures of habit. And breaking habits, when the world is changing as dramatically as it is in such a short period of time, is not easy."

With the proper oversight, there are ways to overcome this hurdle. Read on for some tips for creating a social media culture within your organization.

KNOW THE RISKS

In "Social Media and Its Associated Risks," a report issued by global audit, tax, and advisory firm Grant Thornton and the Financial Executives Research Foundation, a staggering 42 percent of the 141 public and private company executives surveyed admitted that no one in their organization monitors compliance with social media policies. About 21 percent said marketing and public relations were tasked with the job, and about 7 percent pinned it on IT. When it came to overall responsibility for social media, 54 percent of respondents said marketing and public relations were in charge. About 19 percent report not even using social media, and about 11 percent said that no specific group takes the lead on social media management. Some 7 percent look to business development and sales teams to take charge.

The reality is that legalities and corporate governance are key elements in an enterprise social media strategy. Government and financial services are strong adopters of social media, and both face stringent regulatory processes that add complications to social interactions. In the Grant Thornton report, 61 percent of survey respondents said their company does not have a fraud management plan. Some of the identified risks in developing a compliance or fraud management plan include negative comments about a company, out-of-date information, disclosure of proprietary information, exposure of personally identifiable information, and fraud, the report indicated.

Any company with a high volume of proprietary assets or information would naturally be more vigilant about sharing sensitive information in a public setting. …