Social CRM and Inbound Marketing

There can be very little argument that “social” is the buzzword for marketing these days. Social media has burst full-force onto the scene, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon. Social media has opened up a variety of new pathways for marketers to reach their customers, has made marketing more personal and engaging, and has even permanently altered the style of content marketers craft on a daily basis.

It’s obvious that marketers can use the social aspects of the Internet to reach their customers; but how can they go beyond that initial contact to really foster relationships and build an engaged customer base?

This is where social CRM comes in.

Gartner defines social CRM as, “a business strategy that entails the extension of marketing, sales, and customer service processes to include the active participation of customers or visitors to an Internet channel (Web or mobile) with the goal of fostering participation in the business process.” Ok, so that’s an awful lot of words, but what exactly can we do with that?

Well, quite a bit as it turns out. For one thing you can utilize social CRM to monitor responses to your brand and its decisions in near real time online. By monitoring tweets mentioning your brand, or status updates, or even blog posts you can gauge customers reactions, and even add their opinions to their customer records in order to track their development or even generate new leads.

Social CRM can also take content creation and customer engagement to an entirely new level. One interesting and semi-outlandish story demonstrating this comes from Peter Shankman, a PR master and founder of HARO, who has over 150,000 Twitter followers. While on a flight Shankman tweeted at prestigious (and social media savvy) steakhouse Morton’s: “Hey @Mortons— can you meet me at Newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks ;)” Obviously this tweet was in jest, but Morton’s seized on the opportunity and met Shankman at his gate with a 24-ounce Porterhouse.

This is obviously an extreme example of the capabilities of social CRM, but it demonstrates some good points. The cost to Morton’s to deliver the steak was minimal, and now they have a very influential and high-profile fan who will be a life-long advocate for the Morton’s brand, and stimulate loads of word-of-mouth advertising via Twitter, blogs and other social media outlets that reported on the stunt.

In a world where standard advertising practices feel lackluster and sometimes downright boring, social CRM provides marketers one more opportunity to really engage their customers and provide relevant and valuable content.

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