Magazine article CRM Magazine

Gather the Tools for Customer Engagement: Social Media Is Changing the Face of CRM. Are You Prepared?

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Gather the Tools for Customer Engagement: Social Media Is Changing the Face of CRM. Are You Prepared?

Article excerpt

SOME FORMS of social media are tools--blogs, wikis, podcasts. Some are user-generated content (UGC)--comments, reviews, social tags and bookmarks, rankings, ratings, photos, and videos. (There are also more-sophisticated examples, such as social tags used in the creation of folksonomies, organic groups that simplify categorization.)

In early 2008, Forrester Research studied spending levels among 333 interactive marketers at midsize and large corporations. Despite a poor economy, a significant share planned to increase investment in several areas (see chart). Yet in terms of display ads, only 10 percent are increasing spending and 40 percent will actually cut back. You could infer that we're in the early stages of an exodus from traditional marketing--and to some extent you'd be right. But this only means that companies are becoming aware that they have to change how they're interacting with customers. They aren't necessarily doing it.

In fact, most of them aren't. In February, IDC reported that only 14 percent of enterprises polled had social networks; by year's end, though, that number was expected to reach 41 percent--meaning that white-label social networks (and communities) will be entering the mainstream. Well, maybe: In May, Kathleen Reidy of the analyst firm The 451 Group polled 2,081 technology and business professionals and found only 24 percent had the tools to build or use social media (which the report defined as blogs, wikis, and social networks).

First, don't be fooled by that number. If 24 percent were using social media, that's about 24 percentage points more than three years ago. And Forrester's research indicates a willingness to spend on social media--but not by technology departments.

These social tools can be confusing, and they're not a clear part of a traditional CRM strategy. The idea is to get acquainted with them first. The social tools most important for CRM (i.e., blogs, wikis, and social networks) deserve more explanation, but suffice to say you need to incorporate them into your engagement strategy.

Remember: These are tools--not substitutes for strategy or for engagement with customers. They have their own benefits and problems and should be used judiciously.

Think that's an unnecessary reminder? A little history, maestro: The biggest battle CRM vets have had to fight was with our clients. …

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