A Pragmatic Approach to Social Data

Next week, at our next domestic CRM Acceleration event in NYC (May 5) I will be giving a refined version of my Social Customer presentation. Leading up to the presentation, I caught up with co-presenter Arkady Kleyner, Vice President and Co-Founder, Intricity . The theme of Arkady’s talk is data; both the sheer amount available in the social web and how not to get a ‘deer in the headlights’ feeling while trying to figure out what to do with it.

I started by first asking Arkady his thoughts regarding the value of both current and past behavior (you know, traditional CRM and ERP type data) with that found on the Social web. I like Arkady’s approach, and line of thinking:

Anyone who truly wants to understand their customer will get the insight from any available source as long as it’s reliable. Any company that ignores it’s customer whether it be by not paying attention historical buying patterns, or feedback on a recent transaction posted in blog, will be denying themselves an opportunity to be more effective.   A wise person once said, “To measure is to know”.

But, that said, I am unclear whether this approach can be taken for all industries. There are certain industries, say Financial and Pharmaceutical where Social Data is not as easy to come by, or is protected. Because of the industry type, do we need a different approach? Arkady suggested that despite the growing interest in leveraging new Social media channels many large organizations are still banning access to social sites on their corporate networks for purposes of both security and employee productivity.  adding “security and confidentiality are of particularly great concern”. This might be true, but the customers, or even the population at large is still talking, no?

So while they may be slow in opening those channels for employees, even in the ‘protected’ industries we are seeing increasing interest in how to incorporate social (media, networks and CRM) on the retail, and marketing sides of the business.  For example, Social media is a very effective channel for pharmaceutical research organizations to recruit new study participants, or for mortgage brokers to become aware of individuals that are looking to buy a home, as Arkady points out.

Getting to the heart of the matter, what approach can organizations take to offer filters, insights and guidance given the sheer volume of available data? As we discussed, this is not really a new problem, but it might be getting worse. I like Arkady’s thoughts here “It’s great to jump on the bandwagon and “embrace the web”.  However, like we learned during the dot com bust, new channels need to be backed by traditional business processes for handling the response.” He goes further, and suggests the following:

“Business Intelligence tools are as important as ever for taking the mountains of data that we accumulate in our organizations and translating them into simple performance measures that we can make day to day decision based on. It is wise to remember that social media channels provide new valuable data to work with, and may constitute a new way to communicate but you will not be changing the way your salespeople are measured to be based on tweets, rather than sales.”

I am hoping you will have a chance to come join us on the 5th. The event is at New York Helmsley Hotel, breakfast is at 8:30am. You can register here, if you are interested in joining the Acceleration Event.