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“Social CRM” is a phrase that is used almost as often as “the cloud,” but what exactly is Social CRM? According to Gartner it’s a “business strategy” but what does that mean? Social CRM is one of many elements in the social space that associations can leverage. To determine the area of social that is right for your association, take a look at the social quadrants below:
In the first quadrant we see public social media. This is essentially an outreach and brand awareness tool for associations, as many organizations already are leveraging this via Facebook page(s), Twitter hashtags and LinkedIn groups. There are many more opportunities than this, but the important thing is that it’s an outreach tool.
Social CRM is another, more focused area of social. An example of this is an organization that is listening to the social web and automatically pulling in relevant information from members and prospects, and attaching that information to their respective account inside of your AMS/CRM. For the less techie among us, remember your association management system is your CRM (same thing). A simple example of this is when a member tweets something that mentions your organization’s hashtag or Twitter account, and so it automatically is pulled into your AMS and attached to the individual record. You might have workflow in place to automatically route to the communications department so they can view and respond. Before doing so however, the communications staff gets to see who the member is, the committees he or she has served on, and the chapter to which they belong. They may also see how much “Klout” the member has (Klout is a way of measuring a person’s social influence).
Another example is when a nonmember/prospect posts a message to your LinkedIn group. This might be routed to the membership department, which can then see mutual friends as well as show an overview of the person’s interests, etc. It may turn out that nonmember/prospect is friends with several other members. This gives your membership person a few common touch points to connect with and ideally sell the prospect on membership. (Of course you have to be a little careful with this since you don’t want to come across as a stalker.)
Social Software in the Workplace is usually leveraged by much larger organizations and is becoming increasingly popular with for-profit entities. For example, Deloitte recently implemented a social solution to help with knowledge and talent management. Considering DeLoitte has about 200,000 employees around the world, it’s no wonder the company is trying to improve internal communication and collaboration. By implementing social in a way that is not intrusive, yet always available with no additional effort (such as activity feeds always present on the desktop), companies have an opportunity to reduce costs by improving efficiency.
Externally Facing Social Software probably holds the most potential for associations. This is an opportunity to get your members engaged. Conceptually this is very much like the “social software in the workplace” but the focus is on members vs. staff. Most associations already have listserves, a member directory and perhaps some way for members to share files. Some associations might even have collaborative editing solutions so members of a committee can edit a document together. Now consider wrapping all this into one comprehensive, knowledge management focused online community and fully integrate it into your AMS. The end result can be a membership proposition that can disrupt and even replace what members traditionally have recognized as one the most valuable benefits of the organization.
Online collaboration does not suffer from the same limitations as in-person networking; there are no time and location restrictions and any member can participate at any time from any location. One of the often overlooked benefits of this type of the engagement is the ability to measure. Typically, any and all online engagement in a community platform is measured in a way that allows the association to benchmark its success, and ultimately its relevance to its membership.
Many associations are heading in this direction, realizing there are many emerging opportunities to get members engaged using an online medium. It’s a way for members to grow their brand within their industry and help the industry group as a whole. For the more traditional committees, it’s a way for organizations to be much more efficient and institutionalize the knowledge that is generated from the respective committee members.
So now that you understand the core social quadrants, which are you more interested in: outreach (the public networks), listening (social CRM), employee-focused social (improving efficiency within the organization) or externally facing social software (improving member benefits, building member loyalty and enhancing the sense of community)?
Steggles is president of Higher Logic, Arlington, Va., a social media provider. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.