Today I had the pleasure of joining David Alston from Radian6 and the legendary Brent Leary of CRM Essentials for a webinar live from CRM Evolution. We had a lively conversation about some of the key social business findings that the SMB Group and CRM Essentials uncovered in the 2011 SMB Social Business Study, which Radian6 helped to sponsor. If you missed it, you can replay the archived version, but here’s a quick summary of what we covered.
We kicked off with a discussion about the benefits of taking a strategic approach to using social media vs. ad-hoc use. Whether your business uses social media to for lead generation, brand awareness, increasing customer satisfaction or developing new ideas for products and services, having a plan is key to getting better results. While many SMBs use social media in a fairly random way, by having a plan for what you want to achieve and how you’ll measure success, you will dramatically increase the effectiveness of your social media investment.
One of the key points that we talked about is that when it come to social, you should spend more time listening, and less time talking. Too often, businesses look at social media mainly as a marketing tool to blast out promotions and create buzz. Many SMBs under-utilize social media when it comes to improving customer engagement and building community. Spending time learning where your customers are, listening to what they care about, and engaging in meaningful conversations can often yield better dividends than simply tooting your own horn.
We also discussed some of the other often-overlooked areas where social media can provide SMBs with big benefits. For instance, although a relatively small percentage of SMBs use social for things such as idea creation and connecting with people who are not customers (such as industry influencers), those that do use social in these areas are highly satisfied with the results they’re getting.
We wrapped up by talking about the fact that today, social media tends to be a silo in many businesses. It reminds me of the early days of ecommerce, when siloed ecommerce site that were disconnected from brick and mortar operations. Just like ecommerce has become much more integrated with other aspects of the business, the same thing will (and already is) happen with social. By integrating social strategies and programs with CRM, HR, product development and other parts of the organization, SMBs can become more agile, responsive, and proactive–and create the exceptional customer experiences that will help them to grow and extend relationships.
For more perspective on what we discussed: