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Social media mesh with conventional CRM- Part 2

Slave to metrics? Is that bad?
As I was sitting down to write this post, my new Twitter friend, @poojalapasia sent me this link on Twitter CEOs Are Social Media Slackers. This, of course, comes as no surprise. Most big-company CEOs tend to be conservative and deeply suspicious of social media. Even if they are convinced of the disruptive potential of Social Media, they may not be so convinced of its ability to help consolidate an existing market position.
But, if you are running a small to medium enterprise which sells to other businesses and you need to establish a connect and build and nurture those connects with empoyees of other enterprises to prosper, social media will help a lot more than older means of communication.
The trouble is that while marcom metrics have remained Web 1.0 (very transactional), social media is all web 2.0. The simplest way to understand the difference is that Web 1.0 is largely quantitative; how many visitors, how many clicks and so on. Social media is more “qualitative”. It is not so much how many people follow you on Twtter any more (that matters too!) but more like, how well do they fit the target profile, the quality of the conversation and finally is your audience going to actively spread the word about you.
Do you see ads on Facebook?
I have seen lots of discussions and articles lately where this question gets asked. But, that is a wrong question which is being asked because of the inability of media houses to stop looking at every piece of real estate as a bill-board. Social media is about engagement over a long time; it is not about transactions. I may not see ads, but I am becoming a fan of something or other everyday, I am adding applications and games to my profile and I am joining various groups and forums.
If the only possibility you see in Facebook is a banner ad, then you really need a rethink.
How many leads did you get or “close” from Linkedin?
Let me answer this by saying, even though, it is possible to mark the source of a lead as Linkedin (or FB or Twitter), the real value of social networking sites is not the number of leads that you get through them, but the credibility that you build on them so that your messages (or messengers!) find a willing recipient.
Is there a meeting point?
My take is that CRM should welcome social media as social media should welcome CRM. CRM can include a lot of the more qualitative parameters from social media engagements with customers. Like trending topics in Twitter can help drive discussions in a forum which can be hosted on your website. You have to drive engagement with your key prospects or advocates on these fora to progress the sales cycle.
Where is this useful? One clear area where this can work is funneling the “backflow” leads (leads supplied by marketing, rejected by sales as premature) which need to be put into a nurturing system. Forums and blogs which have a lively participation, even if not all of it complimentary, finally convince prospects a lot more about the “support system” than individual actions from company people will.
There are metrics, and there are metrics..
I guess, what I am trying to get at is that it is wrong to apply old style transactional metrics to Social Media.
But, even without the metrics, I am convinced that social media is a great new way and effective way of connecting with people that matter and that include customers. Because it mirrors the way we actually connect to people in real life.

Acknowledgements:
1. Prem K Aparanji for pointing to this great resource on CRM on the web. Great discussion underway, right now, over a period of 30 days on social media. Certainly the place to visit if you want more in-depth discussions on social media.

Social media mesh with conventional CRM- Part 1

Why the obvious path may not be optimum

Just a quick overview of the social media and the key platforms before we dive into it.
There is Facebook: for mainly social networking but increasingly finding uses in professional networking too. And then, there is Linkedin, the most well-known site for professional networking, job-seekers and head-hunters. Lately, there is also Twitter, providing a unique microblogging platform.
Also, think of your own blogs, which help to flesh out your profile both professionally as well as personally. My current business partner blogs, more regularly than I do. When we met for the first time to sound each other out, this was a common ground and it helped me, as I came back from the meeting to “reconnect” with internet, to go through his blog, understand his persona and feel happy about my instinctive gut-feel decision to enter into “holy matrimony”.
Whether you blog as yourself, or on behalf of your employer, you leave a part of you open to your reader. You share, you solicit and you learn. But, others learn too; sometimes as much about you as about the subject you are blogging about.

How much do you know about your key business contacts beyond what is printed on their visiting card? Do you make an effort to connect with them on forums which are not sponsored by your company or his? Is it all business, especially all driven by deals?
How many of your key customer contacts are your Linkedin contacts or Facebook friends? How many of them have signed up for your Twitterfeed?
You are on FB and LI, aren’t you? And Twitter? If you are, good. It’s an important first step. Next step is to invite your key business contacts into your space.
They will come, first because you requested them. But, they will stay if you have interesting things to say about things that interest them, if you point them to internet resources that enrich their knowledge, if you come across as someone who is not always looking to make money off them and has expertise to share and perspectives to offer on a range of interesting subjects. And, the reverse is true as well. If nothing else, it helps to know the person before you meet him, even if “virtually”.
It’s like courtship. Even if all parties know the actual objective, does it pay to singularly focus on just the objective and even talk about it? Or, should you first prepare the ground, by establishing your credentials? Remember our first dates were rarely one-to-one; we always met among many people because it was non-threatening.
And, social media is great too if you want to deepen engagement and provide reasons for your existing customer to continue to like you. It tells him, you are working hard at continuing to be in business and earn his future business.
I can see you asking, “How do you capture all these in your neat CRM universe, though?” and “How do you measure the results against your efforts?”
Loaded questions. Let’s cover the answers in the next post.

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