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A Beginner’s Guide to Implementing Social CRM for Better Customer Engagement

A Beginner’s Guide to Implementing Social CRM for Better Customer Engagement

Home Blog Social Media A Beginner’s Guide to Implementing Social CRM for Better Customer Engagement

One not-so-secret tip in sales is that to bring customers on board, you have to invest time in building solid relationships with them first. Where’s the ideal place to build these connections with them? That’s right where they spend the majority of their time and can reach you easily : social media.

Well, over 60% of the global population uses and spends more than two hours daily on social media.

This explains why you need to give some serious thought to combining social media with your customer relationship management (CRM). Understanding what is social CRM and how to implement it is key.

Daily time spent on social networking from 2012 to 2023 (in minutes)

Not sure how to kick things off? Let’s start from the top.

What is social CRM?

Social CRM is a strategy that involves integrating your social interactions and data into your main CRM system to nurture and manage customer relationships.

You’re essentially merging your social data with the existing customer data from other touchpoints. Say someone sends you a message on X (formerly known as Twitter).

That conversation appears in your CRM system, right alongside their traditional interactions like emails and phone calls.

This holistic view helps you create a more comprehensive customer profile and gives a better understanding of the customer journey.

Without social CRM, most customer interactions and insights from social media are often stuck within the marketing department. This limits the use of the data. However, a social CRM system breaks these silos.

Since it serves as a central social data hub, different departments, like sales, customer service, and marketing, can access and use the data.

So, the marketing team can easily tailor ad campaigns using social data, while customer service can address issues mentioned on social media.

Differences between traditional vs. social CRM

There are subtle differences between traditional and social CRM. Here’s a table that captures these. I looked at how they differ in focus, data sources, the types of customer data collected, customer interactions, and business goals, in particular:

FeatureTraditional CRMSocial CRM
FocusSales and marketing, prioritizing transactional activities like email marketing, cold calling, and direct mail.Customer engagement, relationship building, hoping for a chance for social selling later on.
Data SourcesInternal data, customer transactionsSocial media interactions, real-time customer feedback
Customer data collectedFocuses on structured data that can be easily organized, such as customer service records.Emphasizes unstructured data that need sentiment analysis and deeper interpretation to get meaningful insights.
Customer interactionCommunication is often controlled and initiated by the business. It is also usually one-way and one-to-one.Two-way communication, usually controlled by the customer. The communication can also be one-to-one or one-to-many.
Business goalsImprove customer satisfaction, increase salesEnhance customer experience, build brand loyalty, and drive business growth.

Both traditional and social CRMs, however, share one goal: to improve customer relationships and experience.

Media monitoring campaign

Benefits of implementing a social CRM

So, what is social CRM? It’s a powerful tool that gives you the following excellent benefits:

  • Helps in lead generation and nurturing

There are several ways social CRM can help generate and nurture your leads.

For starters, social CRM tools often come with social listening features. So, you can set up alerts for keywords or social media conversations around your industry or offerings.

Whenever anyone mentions them, you can quickly engage with such a lead who’s probably already interested in what you have to offer and kick-start a relationship.

Also, CRM tools typically come with a comprehensive lead database. When you add a new potential customer to your list, the tool can automatically search for relevant information about them, whether online or from their previous interaction with your business.

Then, it organizes the data to create a detailed lead profile. You can use this profile to nurture them with targeted messages.

The beauty of social network CRM is that you can automate this entire process. Tools like HubSpot or Zoho let you create workflows triggered by specific actions.

For instance, if someone likes your post, they’re automatically added to your leads list for your sales team to easily follow up. This is an excellent way to optimize your CRM for automated lead generation.

In addition, most social CRM tools include automatic lead scoring. They can use your preferred criteria like budget, potential purchase timeline, or interest levels to identify leads that are worth your effort.

HubSpot crm overview


Using Hubspot’s strategy from the image above, you won’t have to waste time nurturing leads that are less likely to convert.

  • Improves customer service

Social media channels offer a direct line of communication with your target audience. This makes it easier for your customer support to resolve issues in real-time and respond promptly to inquiries.

Furthermore, by monitoring social media interactions, you can proactively identify and address issues before they escalate. All this results in improved customer support.

That aside, remember that beyond social media, your CRM platform gives you comprehensive customer information across various platforms.

This means that when a customer seeks support, you have a broader data scope and more context to provide effective solutions.

Also, getting customer issues to the right department without stress is half the battle won in customer support. Social CRM simplifies this process by ensuring every department has access to customer information.

This makes it easy to pick up where the previous department left off. So, customers don’t have to articulate their issues again. The result is you can avoid frustrated customers like this:

avoid frustrated customers


Finally, social CRM tools also come with features that directly support customer service. For example, they mostly come with chatbots, which can manage routine support tasks and reduce your customer service costs by up to 30%.

  • Provides valuable insights

Social CRM is a powerful tool to gain valuable insights into your customers and competitors. These insights can help you make strategic business decisions and drive business growth.

Through social listening, you get to monitor conversations and gain insights into customer sentiments, trends, and preferences. This keeps you in tune with what the market wants and helps you adapt quickly to changing customer expectations.

For example, by tracking discussions on LinkedIn, you might find out people want a specific feature in your product. This insight can help you improve your offering.

By keeping tabs on discussions, you can also identify influencers and advocates within your customer base. These are individuals who positively engage with your brand and promote it.

Then, you can cultivate stronger relationships with these individuals and potentially turn them into ambassadors.

Lastly, social CRM could also involve spying on competitors’ social media presence and customer interactions. But you have to go with a tool that offers competitor analytics.

With this feature, you can learn competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, and emerging trends.

You can add a unique twist to their strengths and take advantage of their weaknesses and trends to stay ahead.

  • Enhances customer engagement

Social channels make it easier to engage and connect with customers in real time. You can actively participate in discussions, respond promptly to customer inquiries, and acknowledge their feedback instantly.

Alongside this, social media customer relationship management makes personalizing interactions with customers a breeze. You can easily analyze their data to understand their preferences and tailor your content accordingly.

If you’re giving your audience exactly what they want, you’ll have a higher chance of keeping them engaged.

Challenges in using social CRM

Before going into how to implement social CRM for your business, here are some challenges and how to address them:

  • Privacy and security concerns

Social CRM involves collecting customer data from various social media interactions and analyzing it. As you collect this data, It’s equally important to protect it, which can be challenging.

Besides, customers are becoming very cautious about how businesses use their data, which makes them hesitant to release it. So, any hint of mishandling could lead to a loss of their trust. You don’t want that.

Have clear data usage policies that align with relevant standards like the GDPR. You also want to implement robust security measures to safeguard their data against potential breaches

Data usage policies


  • Data integration

Sometimes, it can be difficult to seamlessly integrate your social media data with your unified CRM. That’s usually due to differences in formats, structures, and even systems. This can lead to fragmented customer profiles.

The solution to this issue? Go for a social CRM solution that’s compatible with your existing system.

4 steps for implementing a social CRM strategy

Now that you know the answer to the question, “What is social CRM,” follow these steps to implement a social CRM strategy successfully:

1. Define objectives and goals

This is where you answer the question of: what exactly do you aim to achieve with your social customer relationship management?

This could be improving customer engagement, enhancing customer service efficiency, or even generating leads. Whatever you choose should align with your overarching business objective.

Having a clear goal is essential because it helps you prioritize your social media activities and decide which metrics to track.

For instance, if your main objective is to generate leads and drive sales, your metrics will likely revolve around social conversions and the quality of leads generated. In this case, your activities may involve promoting special offers or running targeted ads.

On the other hand, if you want to enhance your customer engagement, your attention will shift to engagement metrics like shares, comments, and likes. That means your activities might center around interactive Q&A sessions or running social contests, for example.

2. Select the right tools

Once you’ve set your objectives, the next big step is choosing a tool that supports them. Let’s say one of your primary goals is improving your customer service.

In this case, opting for tools with chatbot features, such as Salesforce Social Studio or Hubspot Marketing Hub is a wise choice.

Beyond goal-specific features, your chosen tool should have some basic functionalities like:

  • Social listening
  • Analytics and Reporting
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Social media management

Consider the integration aspect, too. You’ll want a tool that seamlessly integrates with your existing CRM system. This way, data can flow smoothly between your social platforms and other customer touchpoints.

Finally, only settle for tools that can scale with your business. So, take time to evaluate the tool’s ability to:

  • Handle increasing data volumes
  • Support new social media platforms
  • Accommodate future integrations

Schedule a demo with the vendor or opt for a trial period to assess how well the tool can fit into your current and future plans.

3. Listen and engage

The success of any social CRM strategy depends on active listening and engagement. This approach helps build meaningful connections with your customers, enables you to address their concerns promptly, and provides valuable insights for enhancing your interactions.

Therefore, join relevant communities and use social listening to keep track of what people are saying about your brand. These are goldmines of business intelligence.

Furthermore, establish a clear response protocol for engaging with your social media audiences. Each team should know how to respond to specific interactions – whether to address concerns in the comments or guide the conversation to direct messages.

You also don’t have to wait for the customers to initiate contact; start engaging them proactively. Initiate conversations, pose questions, and share content you believe they’ll find helpful. Before you know it, you’ll have fostered a vibrant community around your business.

4. Collect and analyze data

Now that you’ve set your social CRM strategy in motion, the next important step is collecting and analyzing data to refine your approach.

Remember those specific metrics you defined in the first step? Use your CRM tool to keep tabs on them. Identify patterns, spot trends, and gauge the success of your specific campaigns. Then, use the insights from this analysis to shape your strategy.

Say your goal is to boost interactions, and metrics like likes and shares are on the decline. It might be time to rethink your content strategy or revisit your posting schedule. Analyzing the data gives you the power to make informed adjustments.

Media monitoring campaign

In closing

A social CRM system is, undoubtedly, a must for businesses of all sizes. To bring you up to speed, this guide answered the question, “what is social CRM.”

When setting up a social CRM system for your business, be mindful of challenges like data integration and privacy concerns.

Follow specific steps for a successful social CRM strategy implementation, too. Define your objectives, choose the right tools, actively listen and engage, and analyze relevant data for continuous improvement.

Now all you need to do is wait for those stellar results.

Martin Gessner

Martin Gessner is the Founder of Focus on Force. He has spent over 10 years working in various Salesforce roles including business analyst, project manager, consultant and solutions architect. Along the way, he has earned twelve certifications, published "The Salesforce Career Playbook", and helped Salesforce professionals learn more about Salesforce, develop their careers and prepare for certifications.

Founder @Focus On Force