Social CRM explained, part 1: Let them eat cake!

Think back to your high school history class. Remember Marie Antoinette? She was the last Queen of France, married to King Louis XVI and known for her excess. Well, her history can teach us a lesson about social CRM. The Queen was out of touch. Seriously out of touch. Marie Antoinette had no idea what was going on with France. The country was in a famine. She partied. She spent. She ate. When the Queen caught word of bread shortages, she purportedly replied, “Let them eat cake.”

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette

Whoa. Let them eat cake? You guys know what happened next. France spiraled into revolution. And Marie Antoinette went to the guillotine.

So, what does the Queen’s demise teach us about social CRM (Customer Relationship Management)? I wonder, if Marie Antoinette had a better grasp of what her citizenry was up against, would she have been so gauche as to offer cake?

What is a CRM?

Before we add the social to CRM, let’s examine the traditional tool. CRMs are tools that allow organizations to track and nurture their relationships with clients, vendors and sales prospects. You may recognize the names of these popular CRM tools: Salesforce, SugarCRM, Highrise and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. These tools help you keep a living record of all of your business activity and communications.

What is social CRM?

When organizations add the social to CRM, their relationship with clients becomes even stronger. Social CRM is a new strategy wherein organizations interact with customers, leads and supporters directly, on social networks.

Let’s break it down.

  • Social = Social Networks. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube amplify the voice of the customer. These networks provide a powerful platform for consumers and potential donors to interact with organizations, brands and companies.
  • C = Customer. (Or donor.) There are already millions of people assembled on social networks. All an organization needs to do is tap into the network. There, they’ll find many of their existing customers/donors and potential customers/donors, served up on a silver platter!
  • R = Relationship. Online relationships between customers and organizations are characterized by quick and easy communication. And, for the most part, all of the communications on social networks are open and transparent, visible to other customers/donors. For example, if Marie Antoinette answered a peasant’s message about bread prices, it would be seen by all of France.
  • M = Management. With communication out in the open, organizations have a much better chance of understanding and engaging with their customers. Social CRM tools help organizations to connect the dots of online conversations with customers and provide a real-time record of your business activity.
Marie Against the Mob

Marie Against the Mob

If Marie Antoinette ruled with a social CRM, things may have turned out differently for her. Poor Marie, she seemed positively blindsided by the Revolution. If she had to the tools to listen to and communicate with her populace she would have had a clue.

Social CRM is still a relatively new idea and the tools to help you manage social relationships are just hitting the market. Adopting social CRM into your organization will soon be a crucial step to understanding your audience. Before you throw up your hands at the thought of another thing to keep track of, you should know that Thrive can seamlessly ease social CRM into your online interactions. Next week, in Part 2, we’ll talk about social CRM within the framework of nonprofit outreach and grassroots organizations.

P.S. Perhaps France learned from its past: Today, French President Nicolas Sarkozy connects with the country via Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

Want to read more?

Customer Relationship Management on Wikipedia

Interactions with Transactions: Understanding Social CRM

Social CRM: The New Rules of Relationship Management

Follow some social CRM (#scrm) thought leaders on Twitter: @pgreenbe, @jowyang and @marktamis