What is Social CRM?

Defining Social CRM: One of the biggest challenges to the adoption of social CRM is the myriad definitions created by people who work in the social media or CRM industries. We believe that social CRM is simply an extension of CRM into a new channel. Yes, there is data available to us through social media channels that was never available when legacy CRM systems were built. However, that does not mean that traditional CRM activities should take place independently of social CRM.

If you have not picked it up already, we are big believers in bringing together communicators and data sources. Bringing together all the available data that you have on your customers only leads to more focused, successful communications programs.

It is the same thing with CRM. If your organization is currently engaging customers online, why would you not capture that data in some sort of CRM database? You could be capturing names, demographic characteristics, email addresses, tone and tenor of the conversation, the product or brand name mentioned, and dates and times of interactions. These are all valuable things that your sales force would like to see as they work with customers offline.

The following list shows how several industry experts define social CRM. The people whose definitions we’ve included have a background in either social media or legacy CRM systems:

  1. "Social CRM" enhances the relationship aspect of CRM and builds on improving the relationship with more meaningful interactions. (Definition provided by Altimeter.) 
  2. Social CRM is the process by which organizations make clients an inte- gral asset in the management of productive relationships. (Definition provided by Mark Bonnell, CEO, Modyo.)
  3. Social CRM is a business philosophy that expands the borders of traditional customer relationship management beyond information, process, and technology to people, conversations, and relationships. (Definition provided by Jas Dhillon, Chief Social Technology Officer, Ipsos.) 
  4. Social CRM captures both the tools and the processes around the tools to (1) leverage crowd-sourcing customer ideas, (2) apply the wisdom of crowds to those ideas, (3) create a public customer ecosystem, (4) take the customer experience and communication to the time, place, and method the customer prefers, and (5) increase customer intimacy and empowerment. (Definition provided by Michael Fauscette, Group Vice President, Software Business Solutions, IDC) 
  5. Social CRM is a strategy for harnessing communities to support customers and prospects, as well as sales, marketing, and customer service organizations, along a purposeful and mutually beneficial business pro cess. (Definition provided by Gartner.) 
  6. Social CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes, and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collabora- tive conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It's the company's programmatic response to the customer's control of the conversation. (Definition provided by Paul Greenberg, Owner, The 56 Group, LLC and Management Consulting Consultant.) 
  7. Social CRM is the business strategy of engaging customers through social media, with goal of building trust and brand loyalty. (Definition provided by Harish Kotadia, PhD, Practice Leader, Data Analytics and Big Data.) 
  8. Social CRM is customer relationship management fostered by communication with customers through social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. (Definition provided by Jacob Morgan, Principal, Chess Media Group.) 
It is easy to be confused by the definitions here. None of these definitions are technically incorrect, but they offer too many different ideas about what social CRM is. In large companies, the enemy of adoption is often complexity. Something that easily integrates with what a team is already doing has a greater chance of being adopted. The common thread among the definitions listed here is that any social CRM initiative is a combination of your interactions with customers and their nature and influence online.


Although defining the concept of social CRM can be challenging, defining it is far less complicated than deploying it. The next section describes how you could deploy a social CRM initiative within a company.
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