Facebook just overtook Yahoo by a comfortable amount to become the third largest website in the world according to comScore. The world’s leading social networking site attracted 648 million unique visitors in November 2010 and this compares to just 630 million for Yahoo.
It is obvious the growth of social networking is not slowing down any time soon and as more and more commerce is being initiated based upon social network chatter; the need for companies to monitor and participate in these online conversations grows by the day. Yet with all the growth in the market, social CRM is something most companies aren’t focusing on in a concerted way.
Some have Twitter accounts and others have set up LinkedIn and Facebook pages but social media is driving more sales every day and in many cases a single negative and unchecked customer interaction can travel through social networking sites and search engine result pages rapidly and subsequently cause companies to lose large amounts of business.
To improve your social CRM strategy for 2011 consider focusing on/doing the following:
- Meet: Have regular social networking meetings to keep your marketing, product management, branding and executive teams to keep them on the same page.
- Monitor: Be sure you are on top of relevant keywords via hashtags and keyword search on social networking sites as well as search engine alerts. Don’t forget to focus on your competitors’ keywords as well to see what the world is saying and if you can potentially leverage these comments as a competitive differentiator. Go to hashtag.org to learn more.
- Measure: Is your social networking strategy working? Are you being mentioned more or less as time goes on and is the chatter positive or negative? Where is it trending? Why?
- React: What is being said about your company and what are you saying in return? Was a customer unhappy with an experience in your retail store? If so, what are you doing about it? Did you send the angry customer a gift certificate and apologize? Furthermore, did you address what actions you have taken as a result? For example, did you change your return policy? Did you decide to keep the store open longer during the holidays, etc?
- Participate: Be proactive. Share tips, coupons, news and information which could be of interest to your community.
- Network: You will find there are people who love you and those who hate you online. Encourage those who love you with direct messages and engage with those who hate you. It is far more difficult to trash a company online if you receive regular and personalized communications from the entity you love to flame.
- Integrate: Get social networking into the arteries of the organization. Determine transparency guidelines and be sure everyone knows how to engage with existing and potential customers.
- Dialogue: Encourage reaction. Try polls and asking questions to get your community to engage with you and your brand.
- Don’t Over Promote: Find a balance between objectively educating and engaging with your market without being a 24x7 salesperson. This is a crucial point.
At the risk of running afoul of this last point, you may want to consider attending TMC’s second Social CRM Expo February 2-3, 2011 at the Miami Convention Center – collocated with ITEXPO. Social CRM Expo had a strong buzz earlier this year in Los Angeles and the second event will have additional and great speakers you didn’t get to hear from last time.
I hope to see you there.
Disclosure: I am the chairman of ITEXPO and Social CRM Expo.