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Gartner reveals the nine social applications CRM users must master

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7th May 2015
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Social CRM is becoming an increasingly latent phrase, however the market for social CRM applications has never been busier, with tools such as social analytics expected to gain huge traction in the coming months and years.

In the build-up to next month’s Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit, Gartner has revealed that organisations running CRM initiatives are often at odds to what exactly the difference is between the various social applications associated with CRM, and states that understanding the differences in functionality between the various application types is integral to identifying the technologies and applications that best support business goals.

"Organisations often struggle to discern the differences between the many social applications that can support CRM," says Jenny Sussin, research director at Gartner.

"Misunderstanding of their functionalities can lead to overspending, organisational in-fighting, duplicated functionality and missed opportunities, all of which lead to a fragmented customer focus with no one responsible for delivering a consistent customer experience."

The research and consultancy house states there are nine different social applications, and has published the following information about each one in order to help demystify the market: 

Social publishing

“Social publishing applications are most commonly employed by organisations using social media for marketing. They enable organisations to coordinate messaging, campaigns and alerts and allow content to be pushed to social networks with a unified brand voice. IT leaders often confuse social publishing and social media engagement. Pushing content out is the key characteristic of social publishing.”

Social media engagement

“The key phrase for understanding social media engagement is "back and forth." Social media engagement applications enable a continuous dialogue between organisations and their customers. The applications go beyond just monitoring social media for brand mentions; they're capable of responding to constituents on popular social networks. They can be used across sales, marketing and customer service to attract new customers, help retain old ones and solve customer problems.”

Social analytics

“Social analytics applications are rapidly being deployed in CRM organisations. In marketing, they are used to identify market characteristics such as competitive insight or for general market research, to identify influencers, and to determine the success of marketing campaigns. In customer service, they are used to identify engagement opportunities, collect feedback on customer service, and measure the efficiency and effectiveness of customer service processes. In sales, they are used to identify prospective customers, based on their profile information or the content included in their social media posts.”

External community software

“External community software is one of the more established spaces in the social for CRM sphere. It is used primarily for customer service and marketing, and occasionally for digital commerce and sales. It is typically used to build customer loyalty while gathering market research data, as well as to enable peer-to-peer support functions for a product or service.”

Internal community software

Internal community software provides a place for the employees of an organisation to share their insights, interests and contributions about a shared practice. Although the technology has existed for years, its application to CRM is still being refined. Typically, the application enables a form of internal collaboration. In customer services or sales, this collaboration revolves around a client or account; in marketing, collaboration centres on a particular project or campaign.

Content enrichment

Contact enrichment applications attempt to consolidate contact profiles and improve account management, which provides value across customer service, digital commerce, marketing and sales.

Product review

Product review applications are among the more mature social commerce applications, in both tenure and ability to generate positive ROI. They enable the presentation, capture and sharing of perspectives among customers and partners. Aside from valuable insight into products, the exposure of review content to search engines is a great source of search engine optimisation.

Social network selling

Social network selling applications are used for promoting products and influencing purchases via social networks. They may enable transactions directly on social networks, or they may direct prospective customers to landing pages or product pages. They also help customers share their opinions, purchase decisions and transactions on social networks.

Product advocacy

Product or brand advocacy applications enable personalised communication between a brand and current or prospective customers. This commonly takes place via email, live chat or on social networks. The communication often facilitates product purchase decisions for complex products or products with unique use cases, where the views of current product owners are valuable to prospective customers.

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