—updated 23april2012 Social Networking is integral to our lives — and it isn’t just for friends, family, and at times complete and utter goofiness, but it is also for businesses.

Businesses go where the people are and if businesses have something in any way valuable to offer, they too can become a successful part of the social media fabric.

At the Inbound Marketing Summit last week in Boston one speaker said it clearly during the Social CRM discussion,

…it is just as it was before, you had to get to know your client, you had to care about what they do, and you had to know how to stay connected with them in a timely fashion with updated information; it’s just that now with social media you have a new way of working within this same process and businesses should integrate CRM and social networking to be successful within this new environment (summarized from Jon Ferrara, Founder and CEO, Nimble).

Larry Augustin, CEO of SugarCRM, Inc., offers an open source solution to CRM. Augustin is a member of the group that coined the term “Open Source”. He said Social CRM isn’t just for sales, but it also helps us better understand who the customer is and how to reach them through social media.

Through some of the next posts, I’d like to highlight the top takeaways on various topics presented at the Inbound Marketing Summit. I’ll start with Social Networking.

*Social networking good habits:

1. Go where your customers are, like Facebook, and just spend some time there to gain an understanding of how people communicate and interact in this environment.

2. Develop timely, relevant campaigns with a consistent message across all information channels — from email and social media, mobile apps, online advertisingbroadcast and print, and back to the message on your website.

And remember your landing pages. How many times have you clicked on information about a particular topic or promotion from one source only to find yourself on some unrelated page on the organization’s website?

Organizations need to make sure they follow through on their website with appropriate landing pages and information relevant and consistent to their promotion, call-to-action, or outreach efforts.

3. Listen to your customers on social networking sites and learn how to communicate with them. It is through listening you’ll find out what they are saying about your company and how to respond appropriately.

Your response may take many forms — through mitigating a particular comment or through a better understading of what your customer wants, very valuable information when reviewing/updating/modifying your company’s offerings.

And to respond successfully within social networks, your company must function across all organizational divisions to know when to engage customer support, compliance, IT, R&D, and other divisions.

Back again to social CRMs — remember, these tools help maintain the process and your good habits for social networking.

(* this list is a summary from a presentation by Clara Shih, CEO and founder, Hearsay Social, speaking on 7 Habits of Highly Successful Facebook-era Marketers: Lessons from the Field, Inbound Marketing Summit 2011.)

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Molding my "Approach to Art and the Written Word" by observing color and following light, form, and time. Always learning new ways of working and interacting within local and online communities. Taking in the sights and sounds and making notes.