Publishers always want text to fill in the space between headers. I find that a strange and kind of useless convention so consider this minor diatribe as me acceding to the convention. Now to the real stuff.
In General . . .
For starters,what am I calling social media? It varies,really.
Some of the social media are tools,like blogs,wikis,and podcasts. Some of the social media uses are organized around user-generated content (UGC),such as reviews,social tags,social bookmarks,comments,rankings,ratings and photos,and videos. There are even levels of sophistication in the use of particular social media. For example,you can use tags as referenceable categories or you can use them for the creation of folksonomies—organic tag groups,which,oddly,can simplify the tags. In other words,what you can call social media vary widely in both types and the levels of sophistication with which they are applied. That’s why it’s not so simple.
In early 2008,Forrester Research did a study of 333 interactive marketers of either midsize or large corporations on their interactive spending levels for 2008 despite poor economic conditions.The results are telling:
Yet only 10 percent are increasing spending on display ads and 40 percent will cut back spending on the same.
You could infer from this data that we are in the somewhat early stages of an exodus from the world of traditional marketing—and to some extent you’d be right. But don’t fall for the trap here. This doesn’t mean much more than companies are becoming aware that they have to change how they are interacting with customers. They aren’t necessarily doing it.
In fact,most of them aren’t doing it,even if they’re considering what their options are. Kathleen Reidy of the technology analyst firm The 451 Group released a study at the end of May 2008 that polled 2,081 IT and business professionals. She found that when it came to the use of social media (which was defined for the purposes of the report as blogs,wikis,and social networks) only 24 percent of the respondents were using the social software needed to build or use those communication media.
But then there’s this third study. In February 2008,IDC found that 14 percent of all the enterprises polled already had social networks and by year end that number was expected to be an inverse 41 percent—meaning that white label (private label) social networks (and communities) entered the mainstream.
So whom to believe?All of them and none of them. First,don’t be fooled by the 451 Group number. If 24 percent were using social media,that’s about 24 percent more than three years ago. If 41 percent had social networks by the end of 2009,that is a 300 percent increase within the year itself. The Forrester Research indicates a willingness to keep spending on it—except for IT departments.
In Brief . . .
These social tools,technologies,and features can be confusing and are not at all clearly a part of a traditional CRM strategy. Of course,we’re not talking about a traditional CRM strategy in this book,so that’s understandable.
In this section,I’m going to give you brief business definitions,just mention some of the best tools available for the specific media and give you a short use case for Social CRM. For each tool,a short list will summarize its upside and downside. The idea is to get acquainted with these tools. The social tools most important for CRM also have their own chapters in the book—blogs,wikis,and social networks—but by the end of this chapter you’ll have at least enough acquaintance with them to incorporate them into your engagement strategy.
One reminder before we go on: These are tools. They are not substitutes for engagements with customers;they are not substitutes for strategy. They have their own benefits and problems,and they should be used judiciously and notjust because they are there or are cool.
You think that’s ridiculous? A little history,maestro. Play that funky music,tech boy.
The biggest battle those of us immersed in the world of CRM have had to fight was with our clients. Why?Because the vast majority,without a scintilla of exaggeration or irony,saw and still see CRM as a technology. Despite the protestations by many that CRM is a strategy enabled by technology,the myth of “CRM the technology” persisted to the point that practitioners would cripple themselves by implementing CRM before they even had a plan for their customers.
In retrospect,part of the problem was that despite all the protestations of the industry,for the most part it consists of software and SaaS vendors—and they wanted to (and still want to) sell their products and services to their customers. As the good old Edelman Trust Barometer for 2008 indicated,they are also in the most trusted industry of all—high tech. So even when the vendors would say,“CRM is not about software;it’s all about people,”let’s just say they weren’t trying to sell you people the following morning.
Do you think that mindset has changed much in the past three years? Nope. Not a bit.Realistically,the inclination businesses have is to throw tools and technology at what are human issues and hope they automate the issues out of existence.
Notwithstanding,there is a growing recognition that beneficial customer interactions are governed by trust,transparency,and personalized experiences. Four years ago,the answer was to throw sales,marketing,and customer service applications at the interactions. Now the answer seems to be that you should throw blogs,wikis,and social networks at the interactions—perhaps with some sales,marketing,and customer service applications.
This is,once again,the wrong approach. Take my advice,please. These are tools that are meant to be used as enablers,not drivers,and more to the point,not substitutes for anything at all,except maybe sugar.
The inclination to use the tools is going to be because:
Pretty much like everything else in life,if the tools have real value,then they are worth using.Not that complicated,really. For example,if your customers are senior citizens over 75,it is likely those tools would be a useless addition to your engagement arsenal,no matter how much fun they might be for you to play with.
Now,grab my hand and let’s start walking.
Blogs are the most prevalent form of social media and the most mature. They are among the best entry points for an incremental social media plan because they are the easiest to understand and have the most commonly available tools. But that doesn’t make them easy to do in a corporate environment. Because they are still viewed somewhat uneasily,there are only 12.2 percent (61) of the Fortune 500 blogging as of April 2009 according to the Fortune 500 Business Blogging wiki . That’s not so good.
Most simply,a blog is a web-based journal. It is a running account of events or thoughts or ideas that can be authored by one person or sometimes multiple people. Typically it is used by businesses for branding or to reach out to customers or internally to discuss ideas or as a team document. The business blog is defined typically by a specific focus,subject matter expertise,or a particular ongoing message or environment that the company either wants to push or allows to happen.
There are two companies that are the undisputed leaders of blogging tools—Six Apart and Word Press. Each of them has millions of adherents;each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Word Press is more laser focused on being a platform for blogging,while Six Apart’s central products,Movable Type and to a lesser extent its hosted version,Typepad,are more in the vein of a product set built to the center of acommunity platform—a social publishing platform.Six Apart and Movable Type are my Superstah!. With my criteria being what is most representative of Social CRM and the chapter,SixApart was the hands-down victor. Check it out.
CRM Use Case
There are multiple uses for blogs in an engagement strategy:
Podcasts are odd.They can provide a truly viable platform for content delivery and a real opportunity for unique branding. At the same time,while there are millions of podcasts and hundreds of millions of episodes,their adoption as a business tool is erratic.
A podcast is an audio file that uses RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to distribute the broadcast to subscribers or allow them to download it to computers or portable music devices. The content is usually specific to an interest or some other kind of theme.
There are no specifically great enterprise-level podcasting creation tools. Any major music editor such as Bias Peak Pro (Mac) or Adobe Audition (PC) will work well with the creation and editing of a podcast. Most of the latest incarnations incorporate podcast publishing tools as well. Good microphones (the Electrovoice RE20 is a popular choice for professional use) and good mixers (such as Mackie mixers) are imperative and it can go up from there.
CRM Use Case
Podcasts have certain somewhat limited but important advantages:
I’m devoting a short but entire chapter to wikis,but in the spirit of this chapter,here we go. I’m not dealing with communitybased wikis here but only the pertinent type of wiki—the enterprise wiki.
I’m going to use the Wikipedia definition of wikis,mostly for the tasty irony of doing that:
A wiki is a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content,using a simplified markup language.Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites.The collaborative encyclopedia,Wikipedia,is one of the best-known wikis.Wikis are used in business to provide intranets and Knowledge Management systems.
This definition is actually pretty lousy on its own.So I’m going to throw in the Wikipedia definition for corporate wiki:
A corporate wiki is a wiki used in a corporate (or organizational) context,especially to enhance internal knowledge sharing. Wikis are increasingly used internally by companies and public sector organizations,some as prominent as Adobe Systems,Intel,Microsoft,and the FBI.Depending on the size of a corporation,they may add to or replace centrally managed content management systems. Their decentralized nature allows them,in theory,to disseminate needed information across an organization faster and cheaper than a centrally controlled knowledge repository. Wikis might also be used for project management (better collaboration) and even marketing purposes (wikis for customers).Better.
There are dozens of free and inexpensive wiki applications available to anyone who cares to use them. Most of them arenot industrial strength and I would be loath to recommend them. pack chief is Socialtext ,which is also my Superstah!. For small businesses,I would recommend PBworks ,which went from cheap to expensive in 2009,but is still good,and Wetpaint ,two hosted wiki services.
CRM Use Case
There isn’t much else wrong,really.
Social Tagging and Folksonomies
Social tagging is something you see ubiquitously—most often on the social sites that allow you to share content such as YouTube,Facebook,Flickr,or Slideshare. But when it comes to both clear differentiation between it and taxonomies or categories,and when it comes to business value,it often seems to be much murkier. Between this section and the mini-conversation with Thomas Vander Wal late in this chapter,you should be able to not only understand the difference but figure out the business value. If not,I will cry because I will have failed. I hate failing. Don’t make me cry.
A folksonomy—a term coined by Thomas Vander Wal—is a socially constructed classification scheme,unlike a taxonomy,which is a hierarchically constructed one. The difference is that when hierarchically constructed,the constraints of the scheme—the category you are given—is imposed on you and you are forced into choosing the category that’s the least of evils. A folksonomy uses social tags—keywords that you as a consumer or producer of content can create. This is not like the categories you are used to and the taxonomies that organize them.
For instance,you’re adding an entry to a baseball wiki (what else?) and the category imposed is “NY Yankees.”Even though your real subject is the Mickey Mantle 1956 Triple Crown,you are going to have to use “NY Yankees.”So all generic information and specific information about the Yankees and players and events are lumped under this one category,which loses any capability to provide rich insights. If it’s hyperlinked,it might link you up to someone who has an interest in only Don Mattingly’s eight consecutive game home run streak.
However,if you tag it “Yankees,”“Mickey Mantle,”“1956 Triple Crown,” or a string that encompasses all of those elements:
Social tagging tools may seem like a weird idea,since social tagging is pretty much just an advanced set of hyperlinks,but a Mountain View,
California,company,Connectbeam,has an integrated appliance with a sophisticated social tagging engine. On the software side,so does IBM’s Lotus Connections.
Social Tagging Use Case
Social Tagging Upside
Social Tagging Downside
This is a derivation of social tagging that’s focused around sharing and annotating different URLs and content associated with that.
Social bookmarking is the sharing of information typically through hyperlinked site references. For example,I can use the outstanding social bookmarking tool,Diigo ,to highlight content on a web page and then tag the URL,the name of the content,and some or all of the content—and annotate the content. Then I can either keep it privately or share it with all my friends,the public,or a specific group that I’m a part of,while inviting comments to the content I tagged or the annotations I wrote.
The best enterprise-level tool for social bookmarking is IBM’s Lotus Connection,which I cover in detail below. They call their social bookmarks “dogears.”Not my name for it. Don’t shoot the messenger.
Social Bookmarking Use Case
Social Bookmarking Upside
Social Bookmarking Downside
This is a new area that’s been around. That contradiction is actually the reason why there is a lot of promise for social search,but at this stage,the CRM-related use cases are primarily related to sales,though certainly there are going to be many others as it evolves.
We all know what “search” means,since I doubt that anyone reading this hasn’t Googled something,but social search involves more than that. On the one hand,Google search provides a somewhat disorganized but always important useful and fast (a.k.a. down and dirty) way of getting what you need. But social search takes it a step further because,when used appropriately,it can combine corporate structured data with external unstructured data,such as profile information from Facebook or customer feedback from external forums,and make it into useful knowledge.
Please don’t confuse the tools. There are enterprise search tools like Coveo which can find CRM data that you have internally and tie it to ERP data so that,for example,you can not only see the sales history of a customer but also the payment history. There are also social search tools that are focused on the consumer side like Retrevo ,which finds consumer electronics products and then conveniently breaks out its search results into information buckets like Forums & Blogs,Reviews & Articles,Manufacturer’s Info,and Shopping so that you find what you want—and it even has tag clouds.
But those aren’t what we’re talking about here. Companies like SAP have strong social search engines that can do this. If it’s sales-related data,the Oracle Sales Prospector application has serious capabilities. On the standalone side,InsideView has a product that combines social search and some analytics called SalesView Team (the enterprise version of Sales-View) that provides you with not only thecorporate data that you expect from Reuters or Hoovers,but also information like who has moved to another company,who has been promoted,what acquisitions are made—and has integrated it into the respective salesforce.com or SugarCRM dashboards,among others.
Social Search Use Case
Social Search Upside
Social Search Downside
There are a few things that bear mentioning—either due to their ubiquity or their importance they are given coverage elsewhere at length,but still need to be noted here.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
UGC is the actual content being created by the customers/constituents/members—in other words,human beings—who are then sharing that content with others,often through communities,social networks,websites,or even cellphone transmissions.
The forms UGC takes are almost endless. Here is a partial,by no means conclusive,list to give you a taste:
If you think about it,much of this kind of content has been around since Babylon and Mesopotamia. After all,if you’re an over-50 baby boomer,I’m sure you remember 8MM movie reels? No? The ones that show you and your annoying little sister at the beach bouncing beach balls off of each other’s heads? Yep. Those.
The key difference between the 1958 analog video and the 2009 user-generated digital video is that the latter is shared with others and can be embedded on others’ sites.Sharing is why UGC is so important and so prevalent. For example,there is a site powered by Neighborhood America’s enterprise social network engine at Home and Garden TV (HGTV). It’s called Rate Your Room. The idea is that an interested party can upload photos of their newly refurbished,newly decorated,or recently built kitchen,bedroom,patio,or whatever they care to. They are open to being rated from 1 to 5 stars and commented on by other visitors to the site who have registered. Those that have the highest rank through the ratings are driven to the most visible positions on the site. This has proven to be so popular that page views on the HGTV website went up fromthousands prior to the creation of Rate Your Room to millions shortly thereafter.
This sharing of content controlled by the creator of the content,and content that can be communicated and created on demand,is the power of UGC and one of the most potent reasons for using that power as part of a Social CRM strategy.
Social CRM=Social CRM Strategy,Not Just Tools
Customer strategies just a few years ago were primarily based around internal factors. What kind of processes do we need to allow us to reach out to the customer more often and with greater effectiveness? What kind of tools do we need to make sure we have an accurate record of our individual customers’ activities so we can develop programs or campaigns that will be optimal for varying groups or,if really sophisticated,individuals? What do we do to increase the customer’s commitment to us? Transactional strategies ruled the day. The strategies have moved from transactional to interactional. That means the involvement of customers isn’t just important—it’s vital to how you improve customer commitment and thus improve your acquisition and retention of customers.
All the tools we discussed above can play a role in the execution of your strategy. Note two things,though—they are tools and I said “can” not “will” play a role. Their purpose is to provide communication pipelines with your customers so you can have a conversation with them regularly. But each tool needs to be evaluated the same way you evaluated the internal CRM tools—though if past practices I have to deal with are any indicator,maybe that’s not a smart thing for me to say. Actually,first you need a purpose. Then and only then,you select the tools that fulfill that purpose. Don’t do what so many traditional CRM implementations did—buy the tools and try to create a purpose (otherwise known as an excuse for using them).
Much more later on this,but now let’s look at what I think is the best integrated enterprise social toolset out there. Music,please. Perhaps a little of indie rock band Criteria’s “Connections”:
And it’s rational that it’s logical
There is no point in denying
Give yourself a chance,you might like it
We must make connections
We must make connections
We must make connections
We must make connections
Let’s hear it for our Superstah! Lotus Connections!
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Customer Relationship Management Tutorial
Omg! Your Customer Really Is Your Bff!
Crm,cmr,vrm Or . . . Who Cares?
The Customer Owns The Experience
Enterprise 2.0:not Exactly What You Think
A Company Like Me:new Business
Do You Have The Ring? Tools For Customer Engagement
Love Your Customers Publicly: Blogs And Podcasts
Wikis Are A Weird Name For Collaboration, N’est Çe Pas?
Social Networks, User Communities: Who Loves Ya, Baby?
Movin’ And Groovin’: The Use Of Mobile Devices
The Collaborative Value Chain
Sales And Marketing: The Customer Is The Right Subject
Customer Service Is Our Name—and Our Game
The Difference:crm,the Public Sector,and Politics
Soa For Poets
At Home Or In The Clouds-and In Open Spaces Between
Big Picture,big Strategies
Mapping The Customer Experience
Process And Data Go Together Like…crm Operations
Value Given,value Received
When You Buy The Application,you Buy The Vendor,though You Don't Implement Him
Waving To The Future
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