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Why Your Company Needs a Social CRM and Not Just a Community Manager

Kathy O’Reilly, a rep from the job-recruiting site, Monster.com, recently said in an interview with the LA Times that “the number of social media-related jobs on Monster has surged 75% over the last year.”
If you are a recent community manager hire, or you recently hired a community manager, you should be thinking about the tools that will help you grow your social presence into a true customer engagement channel.
Apps like HootSuite, TweetDeck and CrowdBooster probably come to mind pretty quickly when thinking about effective and low cost social media tools; however, community management has evolved into something more than just scheduling messages across social platforms.  

It involves reaching out to influencers, emailing customers with support, working with the sales team to nurture leads, and so much more. This means community managers no longer lives just within a company’s social river, they toggle between email, calendar, sales CRM and social media apps.

Community managers today need more than HootSuite or TweetDeck. They need a robust web app that incorporates all the different tools they use on a daily basis. This will ensure today’s community manager never misses anything in a world where five minutes can make a difference.

Introducing the social CRM:

Research firms like Gartner and Forrester believe social CRM is the evolved community manager’s answer.  Earlier this year Gartner predicted that the social CRM space would surpass $1 billion by the end of 2012, and Forrester wrote a post about the benefits of using a social CRM.

A few of the benefits include:
  • Increased speed and performance of social engagement
  • Ease of cross-channel integration for marketing
  • More in-depth analysis of segmentation, social sales forecasting and influencer relations

Gartner and Forrester have a knack for predicting trends, so if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you have two options: add on a social layer to an existing (and often expensive) CRM built on legacy architecture, or use a low cost web app built with social engagement and analysis at its core.

Choosing a social CRM:

You can review a mix of social CRMs in Information Week’s article on the 14 Leading Social CRM Applications or if you want a weeded down version, you can read Comparz article on the two small business leaders: Nimble and Gist.

Rachel Blankstein, the founder of the Comparz site recently said this:

A good “social” CRM solution will integrate your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn contact information and feeds with your email inbox and with all the contact information, communication history, and workflows within your organization stored in your traditional CRM systems. 

It will allow you to assign tasks to other members of your team, schedule appointments, share social messages with team members, all through one interface.

This last sentence is important because not just the community manager is involved in social media communications anymore. While the community manager will often take the lead, everyone from company executives down through marketing, customer service, public relations and even the development team benefit from being social.

The community manager should act as a coach for others, sharing best practices on how to find and reach out to key contacts, how to organize a social stream and why sharing data between departments is important.

With so many people in the company actively engaging with customers and prospects there has to be a way for colleagues to share tasks, activities and messages, otherwise the recipients may receive mixed or outdated messages.

So, if you recently hired a community manager, or you’re a recently hired community manager, one of your first tasks should be to find a social CRM suitable for your team and coach them on how to use it effectively. Getting everyone on board will provide more transparency between teams, result in more satisfied customers and enable you to create a highly engaged community of evangelists for your brand!  

This post was written by Jon Ferrara, CEO of Nimble, the first truly social CRM. Sign up for Nimble FREE at www.nimble.com.

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