Things I Think I Know About Social CRM…

It is amazing how quickly the marketplace around “social” fragmented into different focus areas. I guess this is to be expected. I mean, the nature of social media is pretty darn fragmented as it is. So it follows suit that the supporting market break off into several directions. I have had a lot of mildly random thoughts ruminating in my mind around where all this is going. I hope some of the social CRM track speakers at SugarCon help illuminate some of these issues and ideas.

So here goes…(I apologize in advance for the parts that don’t make sense.)

…If you are a B2C company, and you are getting excited about being “social” with your customers, you are 200 years too late. You should be excited about being able to better manage and measure the results from the fact that you (hopefully) already interact with your customers in various channels, and for various reasons.

I’m seeing that a lot of the “social” companies that have a good footing right now – Jive especially – stem from internal social collaboration concepts. This needs to be pushed outward. I think they get that and I look forward to seeing how that progresses. Lithium does a good job of creating a manageable customer community – so it will be need to see how those two drive each other’s innovation.

Social monitoring and “listening” tools are great. But we need these to be simple enough to plug in to platforms and channels/networks to inform active decisions, or at least let us know that something might be “about to happen.”  Radian6 – I believe – is on top of this, but frankly I am too socially illiterate to really know right now.

From a B2B sales perspective – how does social media and other web 2.0 data make a sales person’s life useful? I look at tools like Insideview’s SalesView and that makes a lot of sense – showing me aggregated data, but also the hot spots (so to speak) in my networks as they pertain to my contacts, prospects and accounts. Of course, all of this stuff is best viewed from inside a CRM system. While that is great news for companies like SugarCRM, I hope that doesn’t make companies like InsideView too dependent on CRM systems (which are so moored to relation databases and static data) for distribution and relevance. Or it gives InsideView a huge ace in its hand – bringing crappy old CRM products like Siebel up to date.

Back to B2C – when it comes to “social CRM” you have to think about your goals, not just “metrics” in a generic sense. Are you trying to create communities?  Or, are you trying to glean feedback from people “out there” and then aggregate that for valuable use? Just “getting people together” is kinda useless. I wrote a few weeks back about beRelevant. I just met again with their CEO Randy Hamilton and they really understand the concept of generating value among the social consumers in the world – creating either endless or purpose-driven feedback loops for brands in a very cool user format. They have a ways to go in really launching that concept, but it’s a very compelling place to start.

Ok, glad I got those out of my head…I’ll probably completely disagree with myself by the end of the weekend…but please, I invite you to comment and help me get some more grasp on a lot of these concepts…

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