Social CRM Fundamentals - dummies

By Kyle Lacy, Stephanie Diamond, Jon Ferrara

The definition of social CRM is complete only if you consider the fundamental elements of a successful social CRM strategy. Social CRM includes two main elements: influence and community.

The influence of the customer is extremely important to the success of any social CRM strategy. This is important when managing customer expectations and building the strength of customer advocates within their respective communities.

Employee and customer influence within communities are truly a fundamental part of a successful social CRM platform, which plays on the elements of community and influence between your customers and employees.

Focus on community building

In order to build a successful social community, a business must first understand how and why consumers engage with their brand through social channels. Studies have shown that a vast majority of Facebook Page fans are either current or past customers. This means that your fans have already interacted with your business through another channel — your storefront, website, e-mail, telephone line, and so on.

All this indicates that the social media ecosystem is a breeding ground for community building between fans and past fans. It’s the perfect mix of people! The following are examples of community building:

  • Posing questions: People are more apt to respond to a question than comment on a statement. Giving fans two options in a question can elicit responses, too. When you’re trying to engage the social community, you can ask questions that may generate ideas for future content.

  • Repurposing content from fans and followers: Fans and followers are part of the community element of your brand. The content they create on social media sites can help fuel the content for your brand. After all, your customers are your best salespeople, right?

  • Promoting contests: Photo contests have gained great popularity on Facebook. Many people are proud of their photos and are more than eager to share them.

  • Creating cross-channel marketing: If a certain piece of content is gaining engagement on Facebook, it’s a good bet that it’ll catch e-mail subscribers’ attention, too. This idea works in reverse. Listen to what your customers like and use that content to help fuel other avenues of your marketing initiative, such as e-mail.


Now, if you get a transaction somewhere in that mix, bonus! However, with community building, transactions can’t be the main aim, and that’s a tough pill to swallow for much of enterprise that clings to the way things used to be.

Give influence to your customers

This doesn’t mean you have to turn your entire business over to them. Customers own and define their own personal experience with a brand, and companies can learn to optimize these experiences. You determine who you are as a company — your mission, your philosophies — but each customer has a personal and individual experience with your brand.

Customers are telling businesses when, where, and how much they will purchase and have embraced a variety of channels to do so. Social sharing sites like Pinterest and social shopping sites like Glam exemplify the idea of community building around commerce.

Glam Media, which proclaims to be “the leading curated social media platform company,” is a content promotion company that focuses on lifestyle topics like fashion, food, and parenting. Glam helps brands build a loyal base of writers who enjoy the brand’s products.

Glam’s blog writers are paid based on the advertisements attracted to their pages, and advertisers become attracted to a blog after an audience (consumers) is generated. So the consumers determine where the advertising dollars will go and distinguish what content is actually valuable.

Collaborate with customers

Fundamental to the social business is collaboration with customers. This is about creating a place where customers can define the conversation and start building and deepening an understanding of the brand. Your best salesperson is your happy customer. Use it to your advantage.

Determining the value of a customer goes beyond loyalty. A repeat customer can drive profits but a repeat customer who also sends your brand referrals can more greatly affect your bottom line. Who doesn’t love raving fans?

A customer’s value goes well beyond just what she buys. Companies need to take into consideration that customer’s potential to generate profitable new customers. What a customer may say about your brand and his or her willingness to refer new customers to you definitely holds value and expands upon customer loyalty.

Incentivizing your socially engaged customers is great way to turn them into brand advocates. Here are few examples of incentives that you can offer to customers:

  • Earn a $20 credit to your account when your next referral subscribes.

  • Refer three friends to buy the same deal you just did, and your purchase is free. That’s how LivingSocial encouraged its customers to promote a deal.


Wherever your customers are talking is where you should be listening and collaborating. With review sites, social media, and search gaining popularity and usage from customers, it’s critical for you to be listening to what your customers are sharing on these sites. Many consumers turn to review sites for recommendations on just about any type of service on the fly.