How to utilize social data to get closer to your customers

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I recall three years ago, a colleague bet me $100 that Twitter would go away by the end of 2009. Well, I won that bet. But what’s surprising is even today, I hear from marketers that social media is just a fad. What a big mistake. If anything, social media will continue to penetrate more businesses—big and small. Recently, I was asked by Joseph Manna of Infusionsoft to moderate a panel at Social Media AZ (SMAZ) titled “Driving Results with Social Media for Growing Companies.” While the panelists did a great job of painting a holistic picture, what was alarming was that a majority of the audience did not know where to take social or even how to get started. 

Remember, we’re moving at lightning speed so if you’re not there yet, you’d better learn how to get there--fast. For the rest of you, here are three major areas to consider for 2013.

Social becomes a lead gen tool

Corporate social media teams may be focusing on monitoring, listening and engaging, but the focus will likely shift, with executives demanding greater ROI from social media marketing. To make this happen, social media teams need to have the right tools, processes and strategy in place. When you’re budgeting for 2013, think about what single platform will help you tap into specific conversations about solutions, services, competitors, etc. (such as using specific keys and tags). The key here is the ability to identify opportunities, create workflows across the organization and work with sales and business development to convert those conversations into demand.

This is a huge undertaking, meaning social media strategists have to put on their sales cap. What is the sales team looking for? What are the conversations that are relevant, and what defines a lead (from a sales perspective)? You will also need to understand how to bring sales and the rest of the marketing organization into the process.

Integrating social profiles with CRM

In 2013, it will be about understanding where your customers and prospects are in their social engagement and journey. Doing an extensive social profiling of your user base will be crucial— to help sales, support and marketing connect the dots and understand how active they are on social media, what their profiles are, and how they can follow and listen to their customers’ conversations independently.

Scalability will be a big task when it comes to your social platform. You’ll need the ability to scale across the organization to identify social profiles, automatically input that information into your CRM system, and create alerts or workflows to notify your sales and marketing teams. Start small: Identify a tier 1 set of targets to start the profiling process and understand who they are, where they are, how active they are and what information they’re sharing. This will help you understand whether you’re investing in the right channels.

The all-in-one data

Next year, companies will want to integrate relevant social conversations from prospects and customers into their existing CRM system. Why? This gives marketing and sales as well as the executive team a holistic picture of all relevant social activities from your customers and prospects. By tapping into these conversations, sales can respond directly to those conversations.

Social media marketing teams no longer need to flag every opportunity, as this becomes very time intensive. By automating this process, information is captured within your CRM so when your salespeople look at an opportunity or contact, they can see exactly what their prospects are talking about. Radian6 and Salesforce allow this via their marketing cloud, and you can bet more players in the space will offer the same in the coming months. This is something all social media marketers need to start thinking about.

It’s time to start thinking of ways to move the needle on truly utilizing social data to drive your business forward, and I believe 2013 will be the year where social marketers will be put to the test on how they can successfully integrate across all respective functions to derive value inside and out.

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