Getting started with Social Relationship Management

It’s clear that Social Media and it’s associated impact on business has changed the way we do business. However, applying business processes to what can be seen as the “wild west” of business, can be a challenge. We came across an interesting blog post from Eloqua and The Social Media Examiner.

What’s the Greatest Challenge?

There’s no denying we talk social with all of our clients, usually at their request. While many are still battling with their Customer Relationship Management (CRM), the idea and discussion of Social Relationship Management (SRM) is another hurdle to jump. In his blog post, David Johnson discovers the following as the greatest challenges for CMO’s and their teams:

  1. What social tactics are most effective?
  2. What are the best ways to engage my audience with social media
  3. How do I measure the return on my social media investment?
  4. What are the best social management tools?
  5. How do I create a social strategy?

It’s fair to say that in the world of SRM, these are the basics. So what can be done to get some answers to these challenges? If we take each of the points above and break them down we can start to get some insight.

Tactics

“Tactic |ˈtaktɪk| noun an action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end. • (tactics) [ also treated as singular. ] the art of disposing armed forces in order of battle and of organising operations, especially during contact with an enemy. Often contrasted with strategy.”

Most marketers are very aware of tactics and use them in all campaigns. Social is a ‘newish’ medium and the execution of tactics needs to be thought through carefully. In the Australian market we’ve seen some of our biggest brands make blunders with various social campaigns. The response can be swift and sometimes harsh. In the world of SRM we know that Listening & Analysing is a fundamental part of social engagement. It’s easy to dive in and market to people via social, however understanding your audience is key before you possibly make blunders and damage your brand.

The Oracle SRM platform is sold in two components. 1. Listen & Analyse and 2. Marketing. There’s a good reason for that. The Oracle sales rep will encourage a prospect to consider the Listen & Analyse component of SRM first, before they purchase the Marketing component. This is a best practice approach. When you understand your audience you can then become smarter about the tactics you want to use.

Engagement

Success with engagement depends more on process and procedures than it does software platforms. The idea of a Community Manager is also key to the engagement component of social. If your company has one or many social properties i.e. Facebook, Twitter or a LinkedIn Company Page you need to manage these communication channels and have community managers facilitating discussions.

If we step back a minute from the technology, it’s really a PR type of role, or perhaps a Customer Service type of role. However you look at it, engagement requires warm bodies who have the skill set to communicate in complete sentences while being conscious of the impact of what they may say when engaging with people. Relegating this role to a junior team member may work well, however don’t underestimate the influence this person can have and the impact of poorly constructed responses. The world of social moves in seconds and minutes, not days and weeks.

Measurement

It’s hard to gauge success if you’re not measuring what you’re doing. Facebook have had analytics for some time. Twitter recently opened their analytics to everyone, it was previously only available to advertisers. However these analytics sat alone, apart from your enterprise systems. Viewing your social analytics through your CRM or at least in some way associated with your other enterprise data is key if you’re looking for a single view of customer e.g. the nirvana of CRM.

Read further below about tools to learn how this data can be better accessed. Measurement for social has to move beyond the number of “Likes”, “Followers” and “Fans”.

Tools

Two years ago this topic meant looking at disparate systems, poorly integrated data and silo’s of information. The two biggest players in this space who have each built (both through acquisition) enterprise standard solutions is Oracle Corporation and salesforce.com.

Oracle Corporation acquired a few specialist social firms and integrated them to create what they call Social Relationship Management. It makes sense to call it that in the context of Customer Relationship Management. SRM provides you with the ability to “Listen” to what’s happening in the Social world, “Analyse” the data and then “Engage” with people via the SRM platform which is a conduit between your social properties i.e. Facebook, Twitter etc and the SRM platform. In addition, there’s a “Marketing” section enabling you to push out specific marketing campaigns to your Social properties. You’ve probably seen these campaign on your own Facebook.

Salesforce.com acquired Radian6 and Buddy Media to create what they call the Marketing Cloud. It performs essentially the same functions as what Oracle has built, however the integration between the two is probably not as tight as what Oracle has produced.

Creating a Social Strategy

Strategy |ˈstratɪdʒi| noun ( pl. strategies ) 1 a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim: time to develop a coherent economic strategy | [ mass noun ] : shifts in marketing strategy.”

I think this is the hardest part of the Social game, largely because it’s hard to look in the market and find someone who’s done an outstanding job. The B2C marketers are probably further ahead than the B2B or B2P marketer. There’s certainly some excellent case studies from a range of companies who have had success, but these usually relate to specific campaigns or tactics.

As far as a social strategy goes, don’t create one in isolation to the rest of your business or marketing strategies. Social is essentially another communication or engagement channel and should be viewed as such. It should be viewed in the context of your overarching strategy and tapped into as a channel when appropriate.