As we know, there has been a lot of news coming out of CRM vendor’s marketing machines these days around social CRM. Oracle made a lot of noise during its OpenWorld event a few weeks ago. And now both SAP and Salesforce.com are re-upping their social CRM antes.
SAP made some financial moves to aid the development of LinkedIn as a strong tool to further social CRM in terms of relationship capital mining. And this week Salesforce.com announced that it was working more closely with Facebook to add social capabilities to its CRM tools.
Between the two decisions, I think that SAP made the better choice. I am not saying this because I see SAP as less of a competitive threat to SugarCRM than Salesforce.com. Rather, I think that LinkedIn adds more definite business value than Facebook. LinkedIn grew up primarily as a resource for recruiters and people looking to network. Facebook’s roots are in college kids posting pictures of themselves doing keg stands. That fundamental difference means a lot. LinkedIn is about business from the get go, and the data inside that property can provide strong business connections, unearth relationships to prospects and offers a messaging system to create introductions etc.
Facebook does have some of these aspects. But the platform is almost too open – LinkedIn has a driven business purpose while Facebook has a lot of frivolous end-user value. The “networking” side of Facebook allows for too much segmentation, I would argue. The business paths and associations in LinkedIn are more direct and meaningful in my opinion. For example, it is easier for me as a CRM administrator to map relationships between a single employee and, say, four companies they may have worked on than to map the inter-workings of an individual with their myriad networks listed in Facebook: work, school, friends, geographies, sports allegiances, etc. The low hanging fruit of valuable information lies in LinkedIn, I would argue.
As social CRM management becomes more sophisticated and the concepts more understood, best practices revealed, etc., then I believe properties like Facebook will provide more marketing and segmentation value to all kinds of CRM initiatives. But for now, in the core B2B CRM world, LinkedIn adds more of a true business value.