How to improve CRM using Social Networks

Everyone is using Social Networks these days, including your customers. Connecting with them is a good way of finding out more about what makes them tick, what they like and what competing sites or products they use.

Traditional contact methods are no longer enough. Interacting with customers and allowing them to interact back on networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, has become more important than ever when it comes to Customer Relationship Management.

Here are some Social Networking tips that should help you improve customer relationships:

Save time by using Social Dashboards
A Social Dashboard is an application that allows you to manage various Social Networks at once from a single account. You can house Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other Social Network accounts all under one hood saving.

Not only do they allow you to view what your connections and customers are talking about throughout networks but you can also get a more organised overview of messages, posts, etc. and respond to them swiftly. 

Add as many customers as you can find on as many different Social Networks as possible. You begin to find out amounts of new information about them such as what social and personality groups they fit into, what websites, products and companies they follow, and what tends to grab their attention.

That’s some awesome content for you to use the next time you contact them or when planning retention strategies. However you decide to use this info, you will likely see results and get customers’ trust going as well as improving brand awareness.

If you are looking for a good Social Dashboard, I recommend using TweetDeck or HootSuite – both excellent choices and, best of all, FREE.

Also, keep social profile and blog URLs in your CRM system. Storing interesting Tweets, posts and comments made by your customers will also be good for future reference.

Use LinkedIn as a new business prospect finder
If your product or service is aimed at a more professional audience, then LinkedIn is a great Social Network for you. 

Many B2B sales professionals as well as recruiters and head-hunters exploit this Social Network to scope out and find their next successful deal. It’s as easy as using the search option to look up a specific company you may be interested in, a particular job title or industry. Choose your keywords and click search.

The search results will bring up people in the interested areas. At a quick glance you will be able to see what level connection you have with them, a first-level connection being someone you already know. A second-level connection is generally “a friend of a friend”, meaning that you and the person of interest have a contact in common. 

Keeping that in mind, a good sales strategy is to check out who the common contact is (this person or various will be shown as a “shared connection” on the sidebar of the prospect’s profile) and then namedrop them when contacting your prospect. 

Give your Social Network contacts special benefits
You can improve customer relationships and sales by posting special offers on your Social Networks. Announce new promotions, one-time-only deals exclusive to Facebook or Twitter users, or a code to use for an attractive sign-up bonus / discount. 

People enjoy feeling exclusive and receiving special treats so this tends to work equally well for both existing and potential customers. You can retain existing customers and get new ones through the door. It will probably also create a Viral Marketing effect as people will always spread the word about an unbelievable offer. 

Posting up-coming company events and inviting your customers to them is a chance to socialise with them and get them on a more personal level. If you communicate with your customers mainly over the internet or phone then this CRM method will be especially effective, as organising events will give them a chance to meet you in person and put a face to the name, making the bond with your customers even stronger. 

Engage them with well-planned comments
Posting witty or thought-provoking comments on Facebook or Twitter are a sure way to get customers’ attention, especially if your comment is a question they can’t help but answer.

Questions trigger more feedback than a normal comment would and tend to reach further too. You should assess your audience first and adjust your tone accordingly in order to make it appealing to them and non-offensive. 

The answers given by your contacts will in turn appear on their friends’ feeds, possibly getting their attention too. Some of their friends who are not yet a contact may also want to join in the fun and may probably end up adding you to their contacts. 

In short, customers and their friends will be able to view you as a person, not just a company, someone they can relate to. This will help to develop trust and good feeling.

Respond to your customers and contacts quickly
A timely response to a comment, message or question made by a customer or contact relating to the product or service you offer will earn you CRM points and will increase your chances of getting more business.

Whether their comment is directly about your company or they were simply asking if anyone knew of a good version of what you have to offer, it’s your opportunity to show them that you are there, you exist and that you are a quick helper.

Their inquiries may sound like a job for Customer Service – that doesn’t matter. Just answer them as quickly and correctly as possible and you will earn their respect.  If you act like a friend and advisor rather than a cold hard sales person, you will be able to develop a more personal relationship with your customer and gain some loyalty.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do
A method I find works especially well on Social Networks is to do what your customers do. Mimicking their behaviour is a sure-fire way to get them to warm up to you. 

If your customers tend to be the chatty type, then be available to them on Facebook chat. If they love commenting on posts, photos and other comments, then comment on their profiles too and don’t forget to give them something to comment on. 

Perhaps they enjoy tagging and being tagged in photos, then you should tag them in yours (given you have photos of yourself with the customer, for example: at an event).  

If they enjoy playing Facebook games, you will probably receive an invite to join them – it may sound unprofessional but you should accept and play along with them from time to time. Players tend to love receiving gifts and points from their friends that they can use in their favourite game, so play with them and get sending gifts! 

Do whatever it takes to get them thinking of you as a friend and not just some annoying marketer.


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