Arming your brand with a social CRM strategy can help address complaints and other issues, preventing the risk of escalation while capitalizing on chances to build brand image.
As of 2013, 67% of online consumers have used a company’s social site for service updates and inquiries, according to a JD Power study. As more consumers view social platforms as outlets to ask questions and raise issues, the need for a comprehensive strategy grows.
Before offering 25 tips to improve your social CRM approach, it’s important to define the practice for those unfamiliar with the term:
What Is Social CRM?
Customer relationship management on social media — abbreviated to “social CRM” — is the process of using and analyzing social media to strengthen your brand’s rapport with consumers.
It generally focuses on addressing their requests and pain-points, collecting market data along the way.
Social CRM draws on practices such as:
Although traditional and social CRM both involve communicating with customers to solve their problems and generate data about them, the latter is typically faster.
That’s because compared to email and phone surveys, social media allow for fast communication and seamless analysis of customer brand perception. Plus, it’s easy for consumers to voice concerns and questions.
Now that the definition is clear, here’s our list of 25 tips for social CRM success:
1. Ensure Your Community Manager Isn’t Overwhelmed
As social CRM centres on quick consumer interaction to satisfy users and stop their issues from amplifying, having a social manager who’s bogged down with tasks will limit your strategy’s effectiveness.
Consider that 71% of customers say valuing their time is the most important aspect to providing service, according to Forrester research.
There are a range of solutions to free up your schedule, allowing for speedier conflict resolution. These include delegating tasks to other social team members and even hiring a dedicated community manager.
By promptly engaging with consumers on an ongoing basis, you’ll solidify the backbone of your brand’s social CRM strategy.
2. Create Customer Personas
Putting customer personas together can allow you to you understand their buying habits and potential concerns, helping you effectively engage with them.
First, make a spreadsheet and fill it with the profile URLs of your followers and people who have interacted with you. Second, once you’re comfortable with the size of your list, look at each profile for information about:
- Job/income range
- Nature of their interactions with you
- Other applicable information, depending on your business
Third, sort the profiles into groups based on this data. You may be surprised to learn which kinds of people make up your social audience.
Understanding who you’re communicating with should help put yourself in their shoes, improving how you interact.
3. Proactively Address Issues
Posting about a sudden issue — such as a server crash hindering product functionality — can stop users from notifying you about it, eliminating the need for copy-and-paste responses.
By explaining what the problem is and expressing your concern, some consumers won’t see the need to alert you. Providing constant updates also demonstrates that you’re on top of the issue.
This means you can continue to focus on other activities instead of halting them to solely handle this priority.
4. Share FAQs
Like the last point, sharing FAQs can ease your social CRM workflow.
After flagging common inquiries, create detailed answers and post them to a dedicated webpage. Share the link on your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, and post the FAQs directly to platforms such as Google+ and Facebook.
Use your extra time to analyze consumer data and implement other tips from this list.
5. Let Customers Know How and When to Reach You
Some consumers may visit your social accounts just to find another contact method listed in your profiles.
After all, a 2012 Nielsen study reveals that only 33% of consumers prefer to resolve issues through social media instead of the phone. Although this number likely increases as people become more comfortable with social media, it’s best to help customers in as many ways as possible.
That’s why your social bios may include phone numbers and email addresses. You should also think about using a method that the next tip will cover.
6. Create Social Media Support Accounts
Creating dedicated support accounts on platforms such as Twitter helps centralize your social CRM activity.
This is especially relevant for brands that largely operate online, such as SaaS companies.
Use your standard account bios to point users to your support accounts. There, proactively update followers about issues. You should also respond to users who tag your standard accounts when asking questions and posting complaints.
Handling social CRM through these hubs can make it easier to manage.
7. Respond to Users in a Timely Manner
A quick response shows your commitment to serving consumers and resolving their problems, building a favourable image while preventing concerns from growing.
You can help ensure quick replies by setting up mention notifications on your phone. You can also use answers from your FAQ list, personalizing your responses to seem more genuine.
Staying on top of mentions also helps you avoid building a backlog of posts to address.
8. Respond to Users Who Don’t Tag You
Just as you would reply to users who mention you or post on your timeline, following up with users who don’t tag you can stop problems from escalating.
These responses also demonstrate how heavily you prioritize customer service, as they involve going out of your way to find posts that:
- Don’t tag you
- Misspell your brand name
- Are shared to the wrong community
The next point covers how to pinpoint these posts.
9. Use a Social Media Monitoring Tool
On top of flagging posts, many social media monitoring tools can generate CRM data.
For example, your tool of choice will likely track metrics such as sentiment and share of voice. These allow you to quantify your brand’s popularity and perception among customers, helping you set benchmarks.
Monitoring platforms differ, but the data will typically come from posts you locate by tracking keywords related to:
- Your brand name
- Competitor brand names
- The names of your products and services
- These terms along with positive keywords such as “can” and negative keywords such as “doesn’t”
These posts, and the data associated with them, will help you identify more consumer issues to resolve.
Type in a hashtag or keyword to give social media monitoring a shot:
10. Don’t Feed Trolls (All the Time)
Getting into a flamewar can drain time and hurt brand image, as you stoop to a low level for the sake of argument.
Of course, you can break this rule sometimes.
Take the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey club as an example. The team’s community manager openly fought against a Twitter troll, and even fans of rival teams lauded the approach:
This is the exception to the norm.
Unless there’s an opportunity to involve and engage your target audience, feeding trolls takes resources away from communicating with consumers.
11. Don’t Confuse Legitimate Complaints with Trolling
Even if your brand is a target for trolls, failure to address actual complaints can cause them to worsen and negatively affect how customers perceive you.
Remember that trolls aren’t defined by angry tones, but attempts to evoke uncalculated responses from you. So, don’t classify mad consumers as trolls who aren’t worth your time.
Instead, handle their complaints with speed and sincerity to satisfy and calm them down.
12. Define Rules of Engagement
Clearly laying out engagement rules — especially regarding how to handle complaints — gives your community manager a helpful resource to refer to.
The standards you set depend on your company’s nature, but generally include:
- Tone of voice
- Set responses to certain situations
- How to personalize these responses
- Guidelines for announcing company-wide issues
What’s more, defining your rules of engagement will also help train future community managers.
13. Talk with, not at, Customers
Ensuring you read and respond appropriately is a best practice for any social CRM strategy, as insincere responses can turn standard interactions into harmful exchanges.
Consider this example of what not to do from Verizon’s support account:
Although standardized posts have a place in social media, solving customer issues generally depends on having a conversation — not pushing information.
14. Humanize Your Conversations
Despite the painful exchange, Verizon correctly shows customers that there’s a person — not a robot — handling their issues.
The support team does this by adding a community manager’s initials to his or her tweets. To give an even better idea of who’s replying, your account bio can include the community managers’ names and Twitter handles.
As long as the responses are genuine, this personal approach can demonstrate concern towards customer inquiries.
15. Reward Active Customers
Social CRM isn’t entirely about resolving problems. Rather, you can improve brand sentiment and strengthen relationships with customers by recognizing their loyalty and participation.
For smaller brands, you can keep track of who regularly likes, shares and comments on your posts. When they’ve reached a certain point, offer them a discount or free trial.
For larger brands, the next tip covers a more viable idea.
16. Run Contests for Fans and Followers
Running social media contests should engage your fanbase while building brand awareness and appreciation by giving prizes.
For example, T-shirt company Qwertee ran a contest that encouraged users to like the brand’s Facebook page and submit their email addresses. The grand prize was 30 free shirts.
Qwertee set a goal to reach 100,000 likes, but now has more than 360,000.
And by building a larger following, the company can analyze more data surrounding target market members.
17. Encourage Participation by Participating
If your audience members don’t see any activity from you, they probably won’t see value in reaching out to you on social media.
Along with regularly posting new content, give these simple tactics a shot:
- Join Twitter chats
- Create, and participate in, groups and communities
- Reply to users, even if they’re not asking questions or for help
Participation not only indicates your availability to handle customer issues, but influences users to keep you top of mind.
18. Share Prospect and Customer Content
Sourcing and sharing user-generated content can strengthen your relationships with audience members, as it demonstrates appreciation for them.
Take a plus-size clothing company for example.
On top of building rapport with customers, posting images of stylish apparel fitting well reinforces brand identity as a go-to option for the target market.
To reap these social CRM benefits, share similar content.
19. Create and Share Evergreen Content
Crafting evergreen content — content containing data and advice that stays relevant long after publication — is a way to share valuable information with customers and prospects.
The medium you choose, whether it be video or plain text, should be easy for your audience to access. So, if you’re popular on Instagram, an infographic may be the best option.
Regardless, these content pieces must touch on common pain points, offering ways to resolve them.
In this sense, evergreen content can answer customer questions before they arise, helping prevent the need to directly address them.
20. Make Lists and Groups
Categorizing users into lists or groups, such as “customers” and “people who’ve given positive feedback,” can help you organize and engage them.
Many large social media platforms, including Twitter and LinkedIn, have this feature.
When someone reaches out to you, check to see if that user is on a list. Act accordingly.
For example, if they’ve previously given positive feedback about your products, there likely isn’t a need to highlight the benefits of those products during your interaction. And if they’ve given negative feedback, act with tact.
That being said, you shouldn’t name the lists in a literal way. Taking Twitter as an example, users can see the list title when you add them to it. So, don’t create a list called “grumpy customers.”
What’s more, creating lists is starting point for the next tip.
21. Target Campaigns to These Lists
Serve unique ads to these lists, bringing prospects to your website to educate them about your brand or pitch your products.
A campaign’s purpose will depend on the list.
For example, when targeting users who aren’t customers, your goal may be to generate email opt-ins. To convert users who’ve given negative feedback, you may direct them to a page about an improved version of your product.
These types of social media campaigns can play a part in nurturing relationships with customers.
22. Choose the Right Channels
A moot point to some, give customers a clear contact method by building your presence on platforms that are popular among them.
LinkedIn may not be ideal for brands that target teens and young adults, whereas Snapchat likely won’t yield noticeable results for B2B companies.
Customers shouldn’t struggle to find you — if they have a problem, they’ll likely become more aggravated.
23. Stay on the Customer’s Preferred Channel, when Possible
When customers reach out to you, it’s often easiest for everyone to stay on the initial contact platform.
Switching between media — from Twitter, to email, to phone — yields two disadvantages. First, it can cause confusion. Second, it’s more difficult to collect and store records or transcriptions of the conversations.
These are important for data mining. You can review them to study customer pain points, informing other areas of your social CRM strategy.
Keep in mind, this largely applies to run-of-the-mill issues. For outliers, refer to the next point.
24. Remember that Social Media Isn’t Always the Best CRM Platform
You may choose to handle certain concerns and problems — especially ones related to personal or sensitive topics — over more secure communication platforms.
As customers bring up these types of issues over social media, ask for an email address or phone number.
This adds elements of safety and privacy to the situation, which can help customers feel more comfortable.
25. Get Feedback Whenever Possible
Getting feedback from consumers is one of the quickest ways to improve your social CRM approaches.
You can gather input by:
- Directing a customer to a feedback form after you’ve solved a problem
- Asking users for more details whenever they post an opinion about your brand
- Running contests around reviewing your brand’s social customer service performance
As you use feedback to meet customer needs in new ways, their appreciation for your efforts should grow.
Final Thoughts about these Social CRM Tips
Using these tips as they apply to your brand should help you quickly address customer questions and problems, strengthening rapport with them.
Getting feedback, coupled with using an analytics and monitoring tool, will also aid in understanding your target market.
That’s the cycle of social CRM: As you engage customers, you’ll collect more information about them, which allows you to handle their concerns more effectively.
The Marketing Thought-Leader
- Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing Founder
The Social Media Professor
- Aurora Meyer, University of Missouri Adjunct Professor
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