According to Dr. Ivan Misner, the father of BNI, The best CRM application is the one you will use. This is a great way of saying that all the fancy CRM programs and features in the world will not make a difference if your software is too complex or no fun to use. For that reason, I know many people who get by just fine with an Excel spreadsheet. It works for them because it's simple and it makes sense.
However, what about using social networks for CRM? Sure, social media is all the buzz right now and sometimes very effectively used as a marketing medium but how about using it more systematically and tracking your customer relationships using these networks? I've presented some ways here that you can use the big three networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) for CRM.
- LinkedIn has a feature called the Profile Organizer. This tool lets you categorize your contacts into folders, add notes and additional contact information, and even search for references to find people who worked with a particular contact. The Profile Organizer is part of the LinkedIn Business account, which costs $24.95 per month. With the Profile Organizer, you can categorize your contacts into clients, prospects, suspects, etc., and communicate with them via LinkedIn as well as track major updates in their professionals lives.
- Facebook offer a pretty simple way of categorizing your contacts, as well. Simply create a friend list and place your clients in that list. You can then set privacy options for that list, as well. You can create lists for different industries, or separate them into prospects and clients. The nice thing about Facebook is that it gives you a rich window into the lives of your contacts, which lets you start conversations more easily. It also makes it easier to share valuable information with your clients and keeps you visible to them.
- Twitter recently added a lists feature that allows you to create unlimited lists in which to categorize people (and companies) you are following. This is a great opportunity to create a list of your clients and then periodically track what they are posting so that you can comment, re-tweet for them, and stay aware of the goings-on in their lives and companies. Less information is passed through Twitter, but it offers another nice real-time view into personal and professional events. Of course your clients have to be using Twitter for this to be useful 🙂
Can social networks replace standard CRM software? Maybe in some cases, but more often I can see them supplementing your core database. Social networks give us an extended, organic database that updates in real time with information that can be very valuable to account managers and sales professionals. Why not take advantage of this and use social networks to stay more connected to your customers and provide better service?