The rise of social media has forever altered the way people and businesses communicate. The explosion of social has been tremendous, as Facebook closes in on one billion consumers and Twitter approaches 200 million, not to mention emerging platforms like Google+, Instagram and Pinterest.
The value of the social web for brands and other organizations is the idea of adding another channel to reach audiences through paid, owned and earned media. Twitter and Facebook Pages are today what websites were in the Nineties … if you don’t have one, you don’t even exist. And with that thought comes a bevy of opportunities for brands to access another medium to reach their digital audiences—only this “medium” allows for consumers and brands to interact and engage in two-way, personal relationships. That’s something no other marketing channel before has allowed.
We want people talking about and interacting with our brand. Social is great for that, and marketers have led the charge with social. But why let this medium that’s perfect for managing one-on-one relationships be confined to those heading up the marketing department? Social’s unique functionality lies in its ability to give consumers a voice and equal footing with brands. It’s not a one-off campaign or “push” marketing channel; it’s a two-way conversation platform that gives consumers the power and ability to be heard, answered and engaged. That is extremely powerful for brands if harnessed and used correctly. And this applies across the entire consumer experience—not just marketing. It’s an excellent customer relationship tool.
No question, social is an invaluable platform for brands. I’ve been preaching that message since 2006 – and I have yet to tire out. Hundreds of brand marketers “get it” and have already seen ROI from marketing efforts. Because of this, however, social has commonly become something that is bound by the limits of marketing departments. However, if that’s the approach, are you really getting the full ROI from your efforts?
Think about it: companies invest time, resources and staff to manage their presence on the social web, building one-on-one relationships with their social audience in hopes that they’ll turn into brand loyalists or even promote their brand via word-of-mouth or other type of share.
The beauty of it all is that social should be something that breaks down the silos within organizations, providing solutions to maximize ROI across several different departments and across all consumer touch-points. Understanding the benefits of leveraging social as a CRM tool just might open some doors for sales, customer service departments and beyond.
Using Twitter as a customer service channel is probably one of the most obvious use cases. Intuit, for example, uses their Twitter handle @teamturbotax to support customers for tech and tax help. A consumer tweeted before last year’s April tax deadline “just failed MISERABLY at http://turbotax.com ... better luck next year” and @TeamTurboTax immediately responded in real-time: “Hi. Saw your tweet. What’s happening? We are here to help, just let us know.” Talk about top-notch, timely and personal customer service.
The social web also offers sales forces the ability to manage their own relationships as well. State Farm allows each agent to have their own branded Facebook Page to manage their specific relationships with their clients. This is the dream: managing one-on-one relationships, at scale … and the social web makes it possible. Are you knocking on your marketing departments door yet?
Furthermore, social brings companies a new wave of data. From simple demographic information to understanding engagement and share frequencies, trends in specific locations or times of day – all of this can be gold to someone who touches CRM. While there is no question that this information is of value to the marketing department, it’s clearly possible that it could also be of use across the enterprise.
We need to think about the way we view social. Understanding that social is not just a marketing tool is vital to those with the keys to the system so they can offer access to benefit the greater organization. Social as its own medium can be even stronger – providing even more value to an organization – if it’s used in all of these capacities. Department initiatives can be intertwined to create an even better brand experience across the social web and at all consumer touch-points.