How social is your CRM?

Is your CRM hindering your social conversation?

Have you ever missed a crucial thread in a conversation because you have too many choices about where to start, continue and end the dialogue? Do you long for the halcyon days of a single Inbox as the only source of digital communication?

Today we are ambushed with questions, updates and enquiries from all sides…from Twitter, LinkedIn, Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS and countless other apps. For me, it’s not unusual for a conversation to start with a tweet, and then ricochet off LinkedIn before continuing its onward journey by email.

What’s apparent is that the trajectory of a message is determined by whatever channel is most convenient for the sender when transmitting their message. Perhaps they receive a notification that they’ve been mentioned on Twitter, which prompts them to connect with that person on LinkedIn. Consequently their first message is sent via LinkedIn, rather than email.

You might think we need another technology tool to help us manage the many communication tools we already have. But do we? I’m pleased to say that CRM applications have evolved significantly in the last few years. Many now provide features that enable us to manage omnichannel conversations across social media platforms. Some CRMs, like Nimble, have clearly been built with social in mind right from the outset. Others are adding enhancements as their users demand more sophisticated social options.

The five features of social CRM I can’t live without

My list of the top five social features you need isn’t complicated or exhaustive. It’s simply a list of the features I use daily to help me keep on top of conversations with prospects, customers and partners. If your business doesn’t need to interact frequently via social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Klout and Facebook, you may find that one or two of these features suffice. But if your customers connect with you via a multitude of channels, you’ll want to find a CRM system that delivers all five features as standard.

Compare social features for different CRM systems using our comprehensive CRM comparison guide

The five features of social CRM I believe every business needs are:

  • Social links
  • Social feeds
  • Social streams
  • Social prompts
  • Social ratings

I’ve included examples with screenshots below to demonstrate how some CRM providers have implemented these features as part of their solution.

1. Social links

Social links are the most basic social CRM feature. A social link is simply a hyperlink to your profile page on a social media platform. I believe all organisations needs this type of feature in their CRM at the utmost minimum. Some CRM applications even save you time by ‘suggesting’ the contact’s profile for you, based on a combination of company name, contact name and email.

Insightly CRM provides the following links as standard in its free subscription plan. You can customise the application with additional URL fields to allow you to store other social profiles, like AngelList, that you might need. It doesn’t take much effort to navigate to your contact’s profile on the various social platforms. Each one is just a click away.

Insightly's social links feature

2. Social feeds

The inclusion of social links is clearly useful. But it’s even more convenient when you can access the feed for that social platform right from where you are, without having to navigate to another page. Sales users usually like having as much information displayed on one page as possible, so the more you can keep your users inside your CRM, the better.

All editions of Salesforce include a feature called ‘Social Contacts’. This feature enables users to link to the social profiles of Leads, Contacts and Accounts they are connected to. Available in Salesforce Classic and Lightning Experience, ‘Social Contacts’ allows users to view selected social feeds for Leads, Contacts and Accounts from the current record’s detail page. I find the Twitter feed especially valuable, since this allows you to see immediately what that company or individual is currently tweeting about. There’s no excuse for cold calling these days!

Salesforce's social feed view

3. Social streams

Whilst Saleforce’s social feature is very helpful, even better is the capability to view all conversation from multiple feeds in one go. Sometimes I may email and tweet with a contact, and it’s great to be able to see the entire conversation in one stream.

Nimble allows you to view your emails and tweets in one ‘signal’ stream. This is particularly handy when I interact regularly with someone using both channels. It’s also a great way of validating the medium they tend to use most frequently – so you can glean a person’s preferred communication channel.

Pipeliner CRM offers a similar feature, incorporating email and Twitter too.  

Nimble's message stream 

4. Social prompts

When you follow a lot of individuals on social media, you don’t want to miss an opportunity to interact with your most important contacts.

In addition to social feeds and streams, Nimble also provides a useful panel called ‘Engagement Opportunities’ that highlights the individuals you’ve classified as important. In addition to viewing their latest activity, you can also reply to them from right within the feed. This is the first place I check daily, to ensure I don’t overlook easy opportunities to engage with interesting individuals.

Nimble's engagement opportunities feature

5. Social ratings

With so many applications available for scheduling your posts and tweets, it can soon become confusing. My adage is to keep your marketing as simple as possible, so personally I use a single KPI to measure the impact of all my social media activity.

I love the simplicity of Klout. Klout allows you to connect a selection of your social media profiles, and produces a single number for you, scored out of 100. This score represents your social media influence based on your activity and the engagement you’ve generated across your connected profiles. I don’t take it as an absolute, but I find it helpful to review my company’s relative influence. Usually we stand at about 62. If I notice the figure dropping, I know we need to focus more on social media. It’s also enlightening to see the impact that special events and company news have on the score.

Nimble includes the Klout rating in its engagement panel, so you can prioritise whom you want to follow back and connect with.

Klout is also an easy content curation tool, allowing you to schedule posts about topics in your field with just a couple of clicks.

Social scoring software Klout


Which other social CRM features are important to you?

This is a shortlist of the most basic social features I believe every employee in your company needs. Of course, there are more sophisticated features available, but these are the foundation for me. They help me keep on top of my conversations, wherever and whenever they take place.

Which other features do you think should be added to this list? Does your CRM provide them?

Perhaps there are some CRM capabilities that aren’t yet available. Which ones would be on your wish list for the future?

If you’d like to get a new conversation going about CRM and social media, please tweet us at @discover_CRM and @trainer_CRM.

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Vanessa Hunt

About the author…

Vanessa is director of Vanessa Hunt Consulting Ltd and author of ‘Facebook Inspiration: 30 days of creativity for your page’

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Vanessa Hunt

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