Gone are the days when social media was seen as the magic bullet, the free media for broadcast marketing.

Now firmly embedded in major organisations worldwide as a means for building an online fan base, our understanding and use of social media is evolving. 

The currency of a fan has devalued in a world where algorithms penalise organic brand reach and where the emphasis is increasingly on creating loyalty and advocacy through unified and personalised customer experiences.

Brands are recognising that whilst social media holds value as a broadcast medium, it is also, more importantly, a rich data source and 1:1 communication channel which can be integrated into their CRM and personalisation strategies.

How can brands use social CRM, and why is it so valuable?  

Used effectively, social CRM can deliver:

  • Improved customer service.
  • Personalised marketing communications and online experiences.

Customer service

The use of social CRM for improved multichannel customer service is now well-established.

Customers now expect to be able to engage with brands on social media, which has led to organisations from retail through to banking setting up dedicated social media customer service channels.

@nalaknip Hi Mick, sorry to hear you're thinking of leaving us. Our cancellation fee for Home insurance is £30.74. Would you like me to...

— Aviva UK Support (@AvivaUKSupport) March 5, 2015

By introducing the CRM element and storing these customer interactions alongside their other profile and contact history data many brands are now able to personalise and prioritise their service responses. 

The business case for introducing social media customer service is supported by consumer research studies which show that customers prefer using social media for its ease and speed of response when compared to traditional phone and email channels.

The business and financial impact is proven by case studies from other organisations.

Example 1: BT has increased brand loyalty and saved £2m annually by setting up their social media customer service channels: 

  • The social media customer service channel deflects 600,000 contacts a year from the more expensive phone channel, resulting in £2m annual savings.
  • Customer use of the service has had a measurable impact on the Net Easy Score (BT’s in-house metric measuring how easy it has been for customer to interact with the brand) which is proven to be a key driver of brand loyalty and increased spend. 

Example 2: O2’s customer service team handled a serious network outage in 2012 by using social media to analyse their audience and audience conversation and to respond quickly and appropriately to customer reaction.

This resulted in a measurable positive shift in sentiment and improved brand perception and customer satisfaction scores.

O2 Customer Service Tweet-1

O2 Customer Service Tweet-2

Personalised marketing and communication

Brands are increasingly focusing on how they can use social media data to fuel personalised marketing communications and online experiences for their customers.

Many organisations are currently at the stage of testing the value of capturing and integrating social media data, including: 

  • Privacy compliant social media data sourced from public profiles and interactions. Username, bio and location are examples of profile data points from Twitter that are often public.
  • Permissions-based social media data, collected through apps and social logins, which typically include additional customer data points such as email, profile, connections and interests.

The value of personalisation and data-driven marketing is supported by research and case studies, which have pushed it high up the agenda for many organisations.

On average, brands are reporting a 19% increase in conversion rates from personalising their online customer experience. Social media datasets are particularly valuable for personalising marketing communications and/or online experiences as they provide rich and persistent data points about a customer compared to many other data sources. 

Example: Channel 4 uses social login to collect audience data, and is a good example of a brand clearly signposting the value exchange to the individual being asked to share their personal data.

Viewers are asked to register for access to the 4oD catalogue either via email or via their Facebook, Twitter or Google account.

In exchange for the data provided (which for Facebook includes access to the individual’s public profile, friend list and email address) Channel 4 lists the benefits of registration, including access to the back catalogue, personalised reminders for favourite programmes and exclusive content. 

Channel 4 Registration

Five tips for social CRM success

Know your objectives and how the insight will be used 

This tip holds true for every project, but is particularly important for social CRM projects where the vast social media datasets available for collection can overwhelm organisations and lead to a lack of focus.

Having clearly defined objectives will shape what data you need to collect and how.

Offer your customers a clear value exchange 

Provide customers with a clear rationale for sharing the data you are requesting, for example by offering personalised notifications or more accurate recommendations, and build brand trust by only requesting those data points required.

Engage internal stakeholders early 

Social CRM can touch many different functions. It can evoke different expectations as to what is possible and can generate heated discussions as to the types of personal data that should be collected.

It is therefore crucial to engage stakeholders as early as possible to align all areas of the business on common objectives, expectations and use cases, and to support buy-in from internal stakeholders.

Experiment first 

Experiment with insight and use cases to help shape plans and prove the value to the business for the investment.

Many organisations are working towards longer-term single customer view and personalisation goals. Running test and learn experiments will help the business realise some benefits now, will gain stakeholder buy-in and will ensure you are on the right track in the long-term.

Start with scalability in mind 

Experiments are often small scale and do not involve the same process or set up as would otherwise be required.

The ability to roll-out successful experiments across the business is critical as is the need to plan with the remit of the organisations current or planned technology, data management and architecture, and, where possible, influence plans to ensure your business requirements are met.

Celina Burnett

Published 11 March, 2015 by Celina Burnett

Celina Burnett is a Partner at Gain Theory and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can find Celina on Twitter and LinkedIn

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