There’s lots of buzz around “social CRM” software, strategies and programs these days. It’s getting the kind of play “social business” did about this time last year when the analysts at Forrester jumped ship for Altimeter and Dachis. They had to invent new phrases to sell their services to the C-Suite. If you don’t have an innovative-sounding name for what you do, then I guess you don’t attract as much attention.

Social CRM is being hawked by monitoring services, market research firms, traditional sales software and — if you can believe it — Twitter applications. Brand managers, marketing managers and agencies everywhere are anxious to get them some of that social CRM, by golly. Sadly, most of them don’t even know what CRM stands for.

Before you go and plop down money for software that does nothing if you don’t understand the purpose for it, let’s look at what social CRM really is. (It’s customer relationship management, in case you were wondering.)

Fanscape has a nice report out called The Value of a Social Relationship in which they put some mathematics around the value of a customer. It’s worth the download, even if the math is more complicated than ObamaCare. In it, they say:

“The aim of CRM is not only to maximize the revenue from a single transaction, but to build a lasting relationship with the customer, thus increasing the customer lifetime value.”

I would generally agree that is the goal of a CRM program: to increase the lifetime value of a given customer to a company. By building stronger relationships with your customers, you can foster and encourage more purchases over time that the one-and-done method of straight sales. The part that makes it work, though, is the relationship building. Good CRM has to be customer focused, not company focused.

CRM software was (ironically) created to try and automate some of that relationship building. Instead of the labor- and time-intensive act of one-to-one communications, technology allowed marketers to build in automatic direct mail pieces, emails and even telemarketing calls to prospects, customers and advocates around campaigns, calendar dates or issues to keep those audiences invested in the brand at opportune times.

But a lot of CRM software is really just sales management software that tracks how many times you ask someone to buy stuff. That’s not really CRM. CRM is about tracking all communications, gathering information and informing your decisions around a particular customer. It’s not always about the sale.

When most companies say they sell “social CRM” software, what they’re really selling is a contact database that includes fields for a customer’s Twitter handle, Facebook account and other social media profiles. They don’t actually do much to allow you to build relationships in manual or automatic fashion. They just have the links.

True “Social CRM” systems not only help you know where your contacts are, but allow you or, even more importantly, those contacts, to manage how you communicate with them, how often and for what messages. Think of a good Social CRM system as email opt-in on crack.

Then the system allows you to leverage your contact’s public social data and even private communications with you to better inform your timing and decisions to communicate with them. Many thinkers in this space also think of Social CRM as allowing you to pull collective intelligence from your customers to improve products, etc. I don’t discount that possibility, but a forum will do that, too. Besides, that thinking is company-centric, not customer relationship-centric, so I tend to not focus on it as a primary function.

There are a lot of companies out there who claim they have a good Social CRM tool. I’m sure several of them will jump in the comments and lay it on thick. But one that I’ve been experimenting with I really like is JitterJam.

JitterJam allows your company to import your email lists, Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers and more into a database. You can tag each individual or groups of individuals anyway you like, making filtering and custom outreach by group easy. As you have contact with each person, those conversations are captured into each person’s profile. The system allows you to track and gauge when someone moves closer to your funnel, going from contact to prospect to customer to advocate.

The above graph shows the progression of contacts, prospects, customers and advocates for World’s Best Cat Litter, which is using JitterJam with and through its agency partner, MicroArts. (The big jump midway through represents awareness brought about by a DirecTV campaign … yes, traditional advertising! Oh my!) Anytime someone interacts with WBCL on Twitter or Facebook, joins its email list or otherwise has a connection to the brand online, they’re brought into the JitterJam platform. From there, the brand can reach out to the person in the medium in which they connected and give them what JitterJam calls a “Make Me Happy” ask where people can opt in to company communications and specify which mediums are acceptable. (See JitterJam’s Make Me Happy page here.)

Seeing the rise of the customers thanks to their efforts, you can visualize how effective your outreach has been.

“We needed something that was going to be more than a reporting solution,” explained Drew Schulthess of MicroArts. “We needed a better context to the relationships we’re building with our customers. We need to know who our customers were, who our evangelists were and how we were connecting to them.”

But JitterJam has much more to it than managing contacts. You can create and post social messages, emails, text messages and more, distribute those to everyone or filtered lists of your contacts, monitor the social web for conversations around your brand or your chosen keywords then funnel the individuals in those conversations into your system as new contacts, too.

When I think of a good Social CRM platform, I see one that has a little bit of everything … social media monitoring, influencer identification, email marketing, SMS capabilities, social outpost management, list management, segmentation ability, contact assessment and measurement and so on. JitterJam has almost everything in one package.

The challenge for using a platform like JitterJam is similar to the challenge of using any robust platform: You have to really master the software to get the most out of it. Yes, it’s one of the most powerful platforms out there, but you’re going to need to learn the ins and outs before you can really milk this thing for all it’s worth.

Still, all its worth could be golden for your company. Imagine communicating with 50,000 people at once. Now imagine communicating with all 50,000 in the medium or mechanism they choose to receive messages from you in and powered by intelligence that allows you to cater the message to customer groups in more relevant ways. JitterJam accomplishes this.

Yes, there are competitors out there that have nice platforms (I’m diving into Shoutlet next, which has some cool DIY tool creation with it) and do a lot of the same work. No, this review is not meant to say that JitterJam is the end-all and be-all to Social CRM. But it’s awfully powerful and worth a look-see.

And with tiered pricing starting at $290 per month, small businesses can afford the tool, too. Sure, the more sizable your lists or volume of your keyword searches, the more you’ll pay, but the pricing seems awfully fair for the functionality to me.

What does Social CRM mean to you? What software have you used to accomplish that and how did it fit your needs? If you use JitterJam, tell us about your experiences. The comments are yours.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://scorpfromhell.blogspot.com A. Prem Kumar

    I don’t think there is a coherent offering (or even set of offerings) from anybody in the vendor land which you could pick up and say this is what a “social CRM” solution (or suite or product or tool) would look like.While I agree that (social) CRM is about building those long term relationships with the customer and should be customer centric not company centric, you have not addressed the various options available in the name of social CRM today. No look at its definition (or the older iteration) or even the much criticized Gartner Magic Quadrant for Social CRM?And no, I do not disagree with your assessment of JitterJam. This does seem to be a good product from how you describe it. Seems lacking in being able to address customer service requirements. Can it integrate to solutions like zendesk or getsatisfaction? Or does it come with such features inbuilt into it? I have not seen it to give a fair assessment though. I will wait for Paul Greenberg, Esteban Kolsky or Brent Leary to help me on that front. :) They are the analysts, am just a consultant & systems integrator. :(Great review Jason! Looking forward to the other reviews. :)Regards,PremThinker, Tinkerer, Connectorhttp://j.mp/prem_k | http://twitter.com/prem_k

  • vargasl

    You are spot on…”social CRM” is the new buzzword and quite similar to the umbrella terms being thrown about like “web 2.0″ and “cloud solutions.” However, social CRM is not a category, but a program transforming business processes across the enterprise. Slap “social” in front of anything…it is like putting lipstick on a pig. If all transactions (social and offline) are not synchronized, the customer is not benefiting. At the end of the day, it is the experience of the customer, not the experience engineered by the tool/organization, that matters.

  • http://www.wecando.biz Chris Butler

    I won't lay it on thickly at all but have a look at what we do at http://www.wecando.biz. It speaks for itself so I don't need to :) We have a pile of new features launching soon and we know that the Twitter Sales Leads Tool/Social CRM integration is getting better and better. We are excited!

  • http://twitter.com/mjayliebs Mitch Lieberman

    Jason – thanks for sharing. A very interesting perspective, it is appreciated. I am not going to lay it thick for any particular piece of software. Actually, I am going to challenge a little. Social CRM is only 20% technology – the rest are people and process. The platform you are speaking of, is the organization, there is no single technology platform available for Social CRM – people are the platform – the employees, friends, partners, fans etc,…

    This is the biggest change from CRM, the extension of CRM that is Social CRM. Yes, the database is still required, just needs to be there. A good Social CRM platform needs to include CRM, you know, phone, face-to-face, self-service, old school stuff. The technical capabilities are there from many vendors, the real issue, are people ready to use it properly?

  • http://twitter.com/gpach01 Giuseppe Pacheco

    Maintaining an appropriate relationship with the customer is directed not only a good use of the database. Indeed. The interaction provided a social environment for business is what business have seen as an added value in wanting to better engage with customers. Which failed to adequately CRM. Many tools exist, the important thing is to analyze the context and insights from customers for work that Social CRM

  • Melanie

    Nice post ..I do have 1 thing that is a help and Free(best Part) that allows you to control your Social Networks Among other Portals.Its proven to be a Great tool http://www.downloadtrillian.com

  • http://freecrmstrategies.wordpress.com Brian Vellmure

    Hi Jason,

    I agree. There is a ton of noise about Social CRM out there. I've tried to distill it down to a few key resources here. The Ultimate Social CRM Resource Guide – 1st Edition.

    I'll have a chance to take a closer look at JitterJam tomorrow and will try and share my thoughts as well.

  • David

    Interesting; plan to investigate further.

    P.S. The Grammar Police point out that the word you're looking for is “HAWKED”, not “HOCKED”.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks. Sucks being your own proofreader.

  • http://www.techguerilla.com/ Matt Ridings – Techguerilla

    I think you'll find that possibilities are good for getting some effectiveness out of SCRM tools at the smaller level. Predominantly because most of the barriers to success that exist at the enterprise level (cross silo cooperation, integration to existing systems, etc.) aren't as prevalent. On the enterprise end of things, all I can say is “ugh”.

    They are so gun shy from throwing so much money at failed CRM deployments, or ones that didn't live up to their promise that anything with the words CRM on it have a tough sell right now. Until there is better communication in the marketplace about what it is, whether it bolts onto existing CRM systems, how much organizational pain is required to put necessary processes and people in place, etc. takeup will be very measured and slow (but fast and furious on the software developers side)

  • http://griyamobilkita.webs.com sewa mobil

    Nice article, thanks for the information explained above.

  • http://twitter.com/sales_face SalesFace Social CRM

    Thank you for sharing your view, it helps us to be sure, that we are moving the right direction here at Sales.Face social CRM.

  • http://twitter.com/MattShandera Matt Shandera

    Great summary of Social CRM. I agree with the below sentiments as well. Social CRM really isn't some brand new construct its just another evolution of technology. In our society, our customers want everything tailored to them as individuals. Social CRM is just the next logical step for companies to “scale” the building of individual relationships. It, like CRM keeps information about a consumer sorted neatly so we as the provider can respond and react accordingly. SCRM is likely to be come necessary just to keep pace with the “rapid required response” expected by today's consumer but its just the next logical feature in relationship management.

  • http://www.jmorganmarketing.com jacobmorgan

    Hey Jason,

    Finally getting around to commenting on this. I actually got briefed by the jitter folks a few weeks ago and also like their product. However, I agree with Mitch in that the technology piece is only a tiny portion of CRM. Take a look at all the documented failed CRM implementations Michael Kirgsman has put together. These things failed not because of the technology but because of the people. Technology is actually the easier part for anything. As far as SCRM platforms go, these don't really exist yet. You can ask 10 different vendors in the space in very diverse areas of social and crm and they will all tell you they are SCRM – just take a look at the Gartner magic quadrant report on SCRM.

    I think instead of talking about SCRM platforms we need to talk about the business cases that these platforms are used for. For example, if I were to ask you for a feature set that makes up a SCRM platform what would you say? How are you classifying SCRM vendors or platforms and why is Jitterjam one of them?

    I do agree that MANY vendors are bolting on social features and calling their platforms or tools SCRM, jumping on the hype bandwagon. I've spent a lot of time developing models and frameworks around SCRM (mainly with Mitch) and the technology component is not what people need to worry about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexinsidemedia Alexandra Gebhardt

    Nice overview Jason :) There is definitely no “holy grail” out there but I also use JitterJam for my clients, including the Facebook integration and now moving toward incorporating SMS messaging. At times, since they don't yet support multiple FB/Twitter accounts I copy/paste the JJ posts into HootSuite to further expand the distribution and of course customize the messaging. I do this to leverage their jit.ly tracking, so I can see which platform delivers the best results. Overall this lets me customize and target my messaging not only by specific SM platform but also within specific target groups/audiences.

  • Anne09miller

    Hey… that makes total sense! We are bombarded with technology from all sides that sometimes it is extremely confusing. I mean how many features of your cell phone do you really use! The key to great technology is that it is simple yet able to produce great results. One such software technology can be found at http://www.SuradoCRM.com/ondemandcrm. It’s affordable too! And the best part is that there is a free trial – so, check it out before you dive into yet another set of technology that you are not going to use!

    Anne Miller

  • http://www.social-software-for-business.com Enterprise Social Software

    You bring up a lot of interesting points. It's true that Social CRM is this years buzz term, and sadly one that most people aren't really sure what it means. This is a great break down of the difference between CRM tools and tools that merely track.

  • Sdiamond3208

    I read your blog and went …aaaaahhhhhh. Thanks for a helpful explanation and recco to take a look at Jitter-Jam.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      I'm going to play it safe and assume that was a good “aaaaahhhhh.” Heh.

  • Dave

    Hi Jason

    What would you say is better, Radian6 or Jitterjam or perhaps using both as they have diffrent functions. Also would it be worthwhile using a tool like Conversocial for your facebook page?

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Radian6 and JitterJam to two completely different things. While Radian6 has

      a workflow system built in, it is not a CRM platform. Radian6 is a social

      media monitoring solution with some measurement functionality built in.

      Unless they've added a ton to their features, they are not a customer

      database and contact management solution, though their workflow system can

      certainly be used as a nice triage mechanism to reach out to customers. They

      do integrate with Salesforce, illustrating the differences in the two types

      of services.

      Conversocial is like Radian6 for Facebook … as much as I can tell. It's

      more of a monitoring and response system rather than a customer database

      tool. But I know less about it. I will learn more, however.

      Hope that helps.

      • http://rootreport.com Lauren

        Hey Jason, thank you for reaching out to Dave and explaining the differences. While we are not a CRM platform, we do have SCRM components, as you state with our integration with SalesForce. Also, Radian6 can be integrated with traditional CRM elements so organizations can adjust and adapt the social media layer.

        Lauren Vargas
        Sr. Community Manager at Radian6
        @VargasL

      • http://www.facebook.com/davehayes69 David Hayes

        Hi Jason

        Thanks for clarifying the functionality, very helpful. Look forward to hearing what you think of Conversocial.

  • Matt at Intelestream

    When we talk about Social CRM, it seems natural that we should dive into the social networking aspects. Forging relationships with customers has never been so technological; therefore the level of effectiveness is even higher. SCRM does all of the research for us, vetting millions of online conversations, comments and other postings to help businesses stay on top of the market and their customers. But while the social media aspect of SCRM is beginning to re-revolutionize the way businesses view and approach customers, the internal value of SCRM shouldn’t be overlooked. The internal functionality of sCRM is astoundingly powerful. SCRM equips employees with a highly sophisticated internal communication tool that allows them to effortlessly exchange information and ideas and leverage the entire company’s collective mind, experience, and resources. SCRM internal functionality allows broader and greater collaboration, facilitation, and company transparency.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4BPRQDWB4PDUXDNA37ALDVBC4Q Hannah Janiola

    I think you did an incredible process explaining it. Sure beats needing to analysis it on my personal. Thanks for sharing this info about CRM Contact Management

  • Ankit Bansal

    Social CRM empowers you to get updated about freshly uploaded content by customers on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. An overview of all your customers’ experiences and opinions will guarantee better decisions and improved brand awareness.

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  • Tushar Singh

    Get Social with CRMnext’s social CRM tools capture information from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to help gain a proper understanding of consumer mindsets. Our Social Connect solution creates Leads and Cases from social sites instantly, parallely generating real-time analytics. Redesign your sales lead management process and customer service management plan by studying customers’ tweets and comments on how they rate your products and services.
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  • Vnvcrm

    Great job Jason..you described the functionality of Social CRM is really well.I recently Posted on : Quality Business CRM Software

  • salesforce

    Customer Relationship Management, CRM is a term originally defined and
    designed to improve customer service. Today it almost relates to an
    entire business strategy. So while the term refers to a systematic
    approach to handling customer relationships, it transforms into
    providing holistic approach to a business strategy.

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