The Age of Social Customer Acquisition Has Arrived

Posted on October 24th 2012

The Age of Social Customer Acquisition Has Arrived

As the social media landscape has evolved, so too have the tools that exist to help busy marketers manage it. Luma Partners and Buddy Media, pre-acquisition by Salesforce.com, released a 2012 snapshot of the social media landscape that rapidly went viral:

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Busy, that much is clear.

To date, brands have been able to successfully harness the power of social media to improve company awareness. But one segment has been largely underserved, particularly in the small and mid-sized business market, until recently: social customer acquisition. 

How is social customer acquisition being addressed now?

To acquire social customers at scale, small and mid-sized business need to turn to technology vendors. Existing options from leaders Oracle, IBM, Google and Salesforce.com are, for the most part, not accessible to that market, according to a recent 451 Research report, Has social customer acquisition emerged as a stand-alone market.  

What small and mid-sized companies need are technology solutions that include a four-pronged approach that encourages listening, engagement, action, and measurement, at an affordable price. At the core of scaling social customer acquisition for this market is the ability to identify likely buyers of products and services, unhappy customers of competitors’ products, and current customers ripe for an up-sell opportunity.

As Martin Schneider from 451 Research points out, the scalable and enabling factor for such technologies lies in social profiling. Social profiling allows companies to identify and segment different groups of potential buyers, and then tie important demographic and social activity data to the company’s CRM or marketing automation stack. Once the datasets are merged and automatically de-duped, then highly targeted marketing can begin in earnest. The idea behind this is simple: collected social profile information, a combination of demographic and social activity data, can reveal valuable insights about an individual's behavior across channels. This insight can then help marketers unravel intent to purchase or signals for customer defection. At the same time, a company can put triggers in place to jump on hot leads or salvage potential lost revenue.

As part of the report, Martin provides a detailed look at how leads the space:

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source: 451 Research

Part of the social profile magic comes from having the ability to segment and score social leads, similar to the ways marketers have traditionally approached lead prioritization in a traditional lead generation setting. As each business is unique, the ability for small and mid-sized business to create their own social scoring logic becomes the make-or-break way for them to navigate the social web for social customer acquisition at scale. 

What is important, as the 451 Report highlights, is the opportunity that social profiling holds for traditional CRM. Imagine, for a minute, that a company can use the insights gleaned from customer social activity to identify their true brand advocates – those customers who not only buy from your business, but those who go out of their way to support your brand and products. Small and mid-sized businesses would then have the ability to offer these customers exclusive offers and specials that not only keep them in the fold, but uses the power of these customers’ social networks to bring new customers in. At that point, the old marketing adage that ‘half of all marketing spend is wasted, but we just don’t know which half’ becomes a way of the past. 

We may be a long way off from turning businesses into full social enterprises, as Martin posits, but we have certainly arrived at the point where social customer acquisition is not just talk for small and mid-sized business – it is being used by a growing number of businesses, who know they need it. 

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Mike Lewis

About me? That’s easy… I’m a Father/Husband, Son/Brother, Friend, Coach, Advocate, Sports fan, Author, Executive… In that order. If you are interested in what I do for work I’m an entrepreneur and marketing guy at heart. I speak at around 20 or so conferences a year, authored “Stand Out Social Marketing” (published through McGraw Hill), am active on Twitter (@bostonmike) and blog at StandOutSocialMarketing.com, Social Media Today, Socialnomics, The Customer Collective, Business to Community, BostInno and others. I work with brands to help implement social media as part of their marketing mix and define marketing, demand generation and communication strategies that incorporate multiple new media channels. Reach out anytime at lewis_mich@yahoo.com (GO SOX!)

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