Social CRM Relies on Loyal Advocates and Social Influencers

Today’s customers demand to be heard. Loyal advocates and social influencers are central figures in Social CRM. Listening to them and reacting to their requests can build loyalty not only among the respondents, but also among those who see that response. That’s one of the true benefits of responding to your customers on a social platform. Others can see and appreciate your engagement.

The loyal advocate is the customer who will aggressively share your message with others. To understand the value a loyal advocate brings to a business, analyze the difference between the social influencer and the true advocate.

Influence the influencer

Social influencers play a key role in your ability to reach customers. A social influencer is a trusted person with a large faithful following. A social influencer’s endorsement of your product or service can help your business acquire new customers. Your loyal advocate uses word of mouth to reach her circle of trusted friends and has the potential to reach a large number of people you might never reach.

To find the people who influence your customers, you can look in several places. Here are some data sources to consider monitoring to find influencers. If your CRM doesn’t collect social platform data, you may need to integrate it into your data:

  • Traffic sources: If you see that you’re getting traffic from specific websites, you should investigate. Websites with high referrals to your website may already be mentioning your company or products.

  • Social media sites: Use the search tools on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ to see who has major influence in your industry. Each of these platforms has a search function that allows you to hone in on your topic of interest. General feeds are useful, but you want to get directly to the people who are interested in you. To get started, try the search function on Twitter.

    For example, if you provide financial consultation services, you might begin by searching broadly, with the term financial information. In the search results, you’ll see the following:

    • Questions that people are asking

    • Specific influencers who are providing information

    • Links to sites that provide services

    Using that information, you can learn a lot about what customers want to know and who offers consultations.

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  • Forums and blogs: These tools provide a great way to find influencers. If you find forums on topics that relate to your business, you’ll quickly be able to see who is leading the discussions. To get started, check out BoardReader. BoardReader is an online search tool that allows you to search across forums and boards to find the ones that interest you, rather than having to individually search them.

Understand the needs of the loyal advocate

The true advocate is the customer who loves your brand and lets his family and friends know it. How can you spot a true advocate? Fred Reichheld, in his book The Ultimate Question 2.0: How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World, thinks he knows.

The ultimate question for him is, “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” If your customer won’t recommend your company to her trusted inner circle, she isn’t a true advocate. (This kind of advocate is also commonly called a customer evangelist.)

To encourage and cultivate customer evangelists, examine what makes those customers respond to your brand in a way that others don’t. Do they look to you to provide information about how to use products like yours?

If you sell wedding dresses, do potential customer evangelists look to you because you provide great information and advice about how to host a cost-effective wedding? When you solve customers’ problems, do you make them feel valued? With the downturn in the economy, customers are looking for more custom shopping experiences. One way to do this is to team up with like-minded companies who can make your sales experience unique.

A great example of this is the iOS app created by a company called SnapShop. From an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, a furniture shopper can see how furniture looks in his own room. Here’s how it works: As the app user, you snap a photo of your room and place the virtual furniture in it. If it looks good, you can buy it directly from the brand.

Think about how you can make the purchase of your products a unique experience that will keep your customer coming back.

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