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I swear this isn’t plagerism!

Okay, so I just ran across a great blog from Christopher Carfi.  It’s called The Social Customer Manifesto.  Sheesh.  I practically copied his blog name!

I actually have never seen this blog before so I can still sleep well knowing I didn’t completely rip him off.  The relief though is that we are talking about slightly different things.  I haven’t read all his stuff but he seems to focus on the actual customer.  I’m more focused building better systems. I love it!  I’m looking forward to digging into Christopher’s stuff.

Social CRM is about the customer.  Hands down. We need to understand their needs, desires, nuances, temperaments, and everything else about them. And we need good systems that help us digest, analyze, and use the information in a profitable way.

I’m still working on the Social CRM Manifesto. Until it’s done, let’s ponder Christopher’s Social Customer Manifesto.

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7 Free Reports on Social Media for Business

7 Free Reports on Social Media for Business

This is a great list of resources.  Quite a variety of perspectives on social media.

I’m just diving into them this weekend. Will probably have some interesting thoughts by Monday!

How Raving Fans Can Make Or Break You

Excellent story that’s played out time and again.  I can tell a hundred just like it.  When you disappoint a Raving Fan… : Never Stop Marketing

The big lesson is that everything you do has the potential to create raving fans or raving lunatics.  You want the former talking about your brand.  But reality shows that the latter are usually louder.

The big question is how to monitor, track, digest, interpret, and separate these voices into meaningful analytics.  How can we manage these relationships in a social context.  We need to go beyond watching pages of Twitter feeds and explore semantics, intent, emotion, and other nuances of social conversation.

That’s what we need to think about.

Sticking to your core business

A lot of CRM companies can learn from this article: Original Article

Excellence doesn’t come from pursuing the flavor of the month. You may make a few bucks in the short term but your business won’t last.  Be true to your core.  Stick closely to your main business.

CRM companies are trying to go “social” but they are not social media/networking companies.  They have different DNA. Instead of trying to tackle the latest trend, focus on making your CRM tool better, easy, faster, and more useful.  That may include integrating social features.  But it doesn’t fundamentally change your platform.

The point is to stay true to your core. When Google launched Picasa, News, Gmail, Maps, and a myriad other platforms, the focus of ALL these ancillary products was search and ad placement. Period.

They built other products only if they supported their core business. It’s hard to do.  But seems to have treated Google just fine.

If I hear it one more time…

I use Google Alerts to watch certain search terms.  Every day I get an email with the latest blog and web content with the term “Social CRM.”  Roughly every other day there is a post somewhere about Twitter becoming Social CRM.  What?!  If I hear that one more time I’m going to vomit!

Customer Relationship Management

That’s what CRM stands for.  Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, and even LinkedIn are more about people watching that managing relationships.  And Twitter is the worst offender of all of them!  Facebook and LinkedIn have at least built in some features to interact and move toward the “management” of relationships.

Twitter is an awesome tool, no doubt. I tweet almost every day.  But it is not CRM.  It will never be CRM.  And what’s worse is all the talk about it distracts us from finding the real meaning and execution of Social CRM.

Use Twitter for what it is.  A massive dynamic and honest forum to monitor the vibe of your product and company in the marketplace. It is not a useful tool for building and managing trustful relationships that result in sales.

Please stop.  Let’s have more meaningful conversations instead of trying to get good search rankings by putting Twitter, Twitter, Twitter in web content.

Why Business Must Change For Social CRM To Work

Social CRM is two words put together by people to describe what we WANT to happen. Social refers to social media technologies which is so far mostly consumers (ie. people) based.  And CRM refers to Customer Relationship Management which is primarily based on business processes.

Social CRM companies seek to combine these two disparate worlds and create new technologies that better meet the needs of businesses (profit, feedback, traffic) consumers (confidence, pleasure, interaction).  But it won’t happen by just trying to combine the two technologies as they are.

“Social CRM” will only be created from entirely new technologies.  Okay, existing technologies can be used but they need to be broken down and reassembled in completely new methods.

The basis of successful Social CRM platforms is to create new ecosystems where consumers and companies can interact as people not as business.  Consumers want to be social, personal,one-to-one, and intimacy.  Companies want to be big, broadcast, one-to-many, and “professional.”  This difference needs to be destroyed for Social CRM to work.  Seems like this would make a better world anyway.

One of my favorite times was shopping in Greece with small shop owners.  These are the guys that create, market, and sell their products.  There’s something very personal and comforting about this kind of shopping.  People crave this.  It’s missing online. Social media has brought back this ability to connect socially this way.  But the missing element is still connecting the social experience to profit.  Companies that want to tap into the power of social media as a way to build better customer relationships, they need to bring back this high-level of personal touch.

Part of the change is the structure of the technology and part of it is the methods of doing business.  For Social CRM technologies to emerge as profitable systems, companies need to focus on creating environments where customers can interact with the company and with other consumers. And the technologies must also focus on merging these two interactions.

Most businesses are scared of risk of encouraging these open, transparent discussions.  They try to control the “buzz” about their company to only release the positive and hide the negative–the politics model!  But this control and secrecy doesn’t work in social media where people prefer openness and transparency.

I think it’s better to open all the doors.  Be transparent.  When problems and complaints come up, address them immediately.  FIX THE PROBLEM instead of hiding it.  There’s a whole other discussion about this I won’t start today.

Bottom line: fix business first and then the social media technologies will easily connect with the CRM technologies to create meaningful customer experiences that ALSO benefits companies.

The Right Question To Ask

Couple quick thoughts. I saw the blog post title “What are people thinking about buying?” over at www.socialcrm.net.  The post itself is a simple word cloud of current Twitter activity.  But the question made me think.

This question sounds like the typical response to the social media craze.  Companies look on social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for buzz about their product or industry.  Marketers look at this massive amount of collaboration and networking as the ultimate eavesdropping tool.

The lazy marketer thinks, when I hear a buzzword related to my product I need to quickly insert my advertisement in front of the interested party.  Sounds like a virtual street market.  This is the most rudimentary and immature style of selling.  Shove a product in someone’s face until they buy.  Then quickly scramble for the next sale.  I think this is why most companies are finding it difficult to monetize social media.

A better questions to ask is, “What are people complaining about?”  Wherever there is pain there is profit!  People that have problems are loud and open about those problems.  And problems are the key to successful sales.  Great example from a British bra company. Every product and service (should) solves a problem.  And smart marketers know that the best way to sell is to identify the problem and position their product as the perfect solution.

Rather than just looking at certain “buying” buzzwords, look at the “complaint box” buzzwords.  A lot of times people complain without realizing there is a solution to a problem.  Especially if they’ve lived with the problem for any length of time.  People are more likely to engage with you in social media if you are talking about their pain versus just pitching your product.  Remember, they are in social mode not buying mode.

Finally, in economic tough times, people buy less for the sake of buying (as during boom times) but still buy a LOT to solve problems.  In fact, the more severe the problems (economic strife) the more people will seek out solutions.  Bigger pain, bigger gain (for you).