FACT #1 – Social technology has disrupted how people communicate all over the world. It’s been used to ignite revolutions in Libya. Parents use it to evaluate safety features of children’s products within their circle of friends. Sales professionals use their circles of influence to establish trust with new relationships. Social collaboration with the youth generation has replaced email altogether. Technology Goliath’s (Microsoft, Oracle, Google, Salesforce) have been forced to rethink everything they know. You know its mainstream when IBM presents its social enterprise strategy on a promotional roadshow.

FACT #2 – The hype is incredible. Everyone has jumped on the bandwagon with narrow use cases and experimentation. Startups litter the social vendor landscape, while finding methodologies to actually implement this into the enterprise is as scarce as water in a desert. By methodology I mean more than a strategy to increase marketing brand awareness and SEO. So it’s okay to not have all this figured out. Join the club.

But business leaders cannot ignore one simple premise —

Social CRM and collaboration is not about helping to control and manage one’s customers. It’s about helping customers manage their relationship with you the vendor, partner, and/or supplier. This is the one fundamental difference between CRM (managing relationships) and Social CRM (enabling customers to manage you in their relationship). Increasingly this is happening to business whether or not a social enterprise strategy exists. Customers can research vendor products and reputation among their social circles (business or personal). They can find answer to their questions online from sources other than yours. They can research your online presence and employees without referencing your website or employee directory. They can vent frustration or promote your company online without your control.

So this leaves one question for your business: Does my business want to engage in these online conversations? If not, you may be ignoring your customers and how they choose to communicate. If yes, how do you do it? I would suggest to first listen to the conversations happening before engaging and analyze the impact and what to do with them.

Below is an excerpt from a Gartner Group report on the differences between CRM and Social CRM; as well as a link to an article from Destination CRM regarding the building blocks of CRM.

GARTNER Magic Quadrant for Social CRM

Publication date: July 25 2011; ID Number: G00214507

Social CRM applications need to be far more customer-centric than more-traditional CRM applications. Without benefits for the customer, communities and social networks die, resulting in no benefits to the organization using the social CRM applications. To be successful with social CRM, organizations need to be much less focused on how an organization can manage the customer, and much more focused on how the customer can manage the relationship (see “Applying the Eight Building Blocks of CRM to Social Media”). Therefore, social applications must incorporate a range of customer engagement levels, from low (customer and prospect voting mechanisms) to high (customer brand or product creation through rich media).”

Below are some thoughts about how to formalize a business social strategy.

Applying the Eight Building Blocks of CRM to Social Media

http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/Web-Exclusives/Viewpoints/Applying-the-Eight-Building-Blocks-of-CRM-to-Social-Media-74541.aspx

If you are interesting about hearing more about how to implement Social CRM using Salesforce, SugarCRM, Dynamics CRM, or Nimble — go ahead and follow that impulse and reach out and contact us.