Uber-Blogger Jeremiah Owyang posted on Twitter’s potential to monetize tself as a CRM network today, and made some valid points:
1) Customers: Yes, they got that. More than that, they have prospects, which to some marketers is far more valuable. As prospects start to talk about products, they’re indicating engagement, and could be further down the buying process. Both are valuable, however the challenge is mapping which Twitter ID is which customer –many don’t use their real names.
2) Relationships: Got that too. Now I realize that the intended definitions of CRM meant the relationships between customers and employees of a brand, but now you can see how people in Twitter are connecting to each other, and those that follow a brand, their indicating affinity towards them. The interesting thing is they don’t just offer affinity towards your brand, but also competitors, which helps in segmenting your market, and can help with poaching.
3) Management: Here lies the opportunity Twitter has no management tools to support this, as a result, their data is being whisked away in the API and being aggregated by two types of companies. The first company? Traditional CRM companies are importing the data into their own systems, in fact we know bits and pieces of this are happening for Facebook. Secondly, brand monitoring companies like Radian6, are importing twitter data into their listening platforms, and then offering simple workflow and task management”
Good points. Adding more CRM-like “management” features would make Twitter more useful.
Jeremiah goes on to point out that Salesforce.com has added support for the twitter API, which VentureBeat’s Anthony Ha describes as follows:
“As described to me by Alexandre Dayon, Salesforce’s Senior Vice President of Product Management, the core insight behind the Service Cloud is the fact that customer service has become decentralized and spread throughout the web. If customers need answers, they’re no longer calling into the company for help. They may not even be logging into the company’s customer service website. Instead, they’re looking on Google, on their social networks, and on other websites. The Service Cloud allows companies to use their Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) accounts to find customer service queries across the web, to track them, and to capture those questions and answers for use elsewhere.”
Also smart. Adding social network integration points to CRM platforms like Salesforce.com will make them more useful.
Both data points signal the enterprise baby-stepping toward social media. The former works from Twitter back toward the business; the latter from existing CRM systems forward into the social web. That’s progress.
Neither approach will unlock the full potential of social media for the enterprise, though, and neither is the Social Relationship Management (SRM) I’ve been talking about.
Adding CRM-like features to any single social network foretells needing to do the same thing again (for facebook), and again (for blogs), and again (for whatever comes next.) The inevitable result of the “social network-back” approach is a patchwork quilt of customer contact points, the very problem CRM systems were created to address.
The “CRM-forward” model is equally flawed, in that the functionality you end up with in one place isn’t what you need to really take advantage of social media.
CRM systems were built to manage the information by-product of real world relationships. You make contact with someone in meatspace, collect thier business card, enter the data, call them in 2 weeks, enter the data, get them to say they’d buy it if it were plaid, etc. If you’ve used Salesforce.com you know you need to conform your behavior to the tool, and not the other way around. As software folk say this is a “feature” in some cases, a “bug” in this one.
A ground-up SRM system would be much more flexible. It would actively support human relationships native to the medium in which it operates. It would go beyond the rigid data model of today’s CRM and integrate the disparate tools today required to monitor, participate in, and activate loose ties across social networks.
That’s where I think we’re headed. How about you?
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