social media reviewsYou keep hearing about this social customer relationship management (CRM) thing, right? It’s definitely been a hot topic.

Here are some important points to consider when thinking about social CRM.

  • Social CRM is first a strategy that is often supported by various tools and technologies. The strategy is based around customer engagement and interactions, with transactions being a byproduct.

  • Social CRM is still about CRM (but evolved), meaning a back-end process and system for managing customer relationships and data in an efficient and process-centric way.
  • Social CRM will mean different things to different organizations. The key is being able to understand the business challenge you’re looking to solve, and then solving it.
  • Social CRM is one component of developing a social or collaborative business, both internally and externally.

So now that we’ve laid some groundwork, let’s move on to a bit more context for both CRM and social CRM. To do that, here are some visuals from Chess Media Group. (Many of the concepts within in this article are from a joint white paper with Mitch Lieberman.)

Understanding CRM

You can see that CRM has traditionally consisted of one-way communication between a brand and the customer.

CRM is comprised of sales, marketing and service/support–based functions whose purpose was to move the customer through a pipeline with the goal of keeping the customer coming back to buy more and more stuff.

Traditional CRM was very much based around data and information that brands could collect on their customers, all of which would go into a CRM system that then allowed the company to better target various customers.

Understanding Social CRM

In this diagram, you can see many of the same elements as in CRM; however, there are a few differences.

PR now has a very active role in social CRM (in fact, PR typically owns budgetary control and authority of social initiatives ahead of every other department). In most organizations, PR departments manage the social presence of brands and handle the customer engagement.

The next change we can see is that advocacy and experience are crucial components of social CRM, which all revolve around the customer. In the first CRM image above, you’ll see that the customer is not really a part of CRM—there’s no collaboration, no relationship.

In social CRM, that has completely changed. The customer is actually the focal point of how an organization operates. Instead of marketing or pushing messages to customers, brands now talk to and collaborate with customers to solve business problems, empower customers to shape their own experiences and build customer relationships, which will hopefully turn into customer advocates.

It’s very important to keep in mind that social CRM is not a new “thing” that replaces CRM, it’s simply an evolution of what CRM has always been.

Why The Evolution Happened

The chart above is pretty self-explanatory, but let’s back it up with a few statistics of how and why people consume and share information.

93% of Americans want brands to have a presence on social media sites (Cone Business in Social Media Study, 2008)

60% of Americans regularly interact with companies on a social media site (Cone Business in Social Media Study, 2008)

Three most influential factors for consumers when deciding which company to do business with are:

  • personal experience (98%)
  • company’s reputation or brand (92%)
  • recommendations from friends and family (88%)

41% of customers believe that companies should use social media tools to solicit feedback on products and services (Cone Business in Social Media Study, 2008)

43% of consumers say that companies should use social networks to solve the customers’ problems

Only 7% of organizations understand the CRM value of social media, according to the Brand Science Institute, European Perspective, August 2010

Before deciding whether to purchase recommended products or services, more than four out of five consumers (81%) will go online to verify those recommendations, specifically through researching product/service information (61%), reading user reviews (55%) or searching ratings websites (43%) (Cone Online Influence Trend Tracker, 2010)

Americans will spend 9% more with companies that provide excellent service (American Express)

This is just a small sampling of the available data on the web that shows how consumers are changing and evolving with the growth of social media.

The challenge for organizations now is adapting and evolving to meet the needs and demands of these new social customers. What’s shocking from some of the above stats is that many organizations still do not understand the CRM value of social media.

One of my favorite quotes from Gartner states:

“By 2010, more than half of companies that have established an online community will fail to manage it as an agent of change, ultimately eroding customer value. Rushing into social computing initiatives without clearly defined benefits for both the company and the customer will be the biggest cause of failure.”

Social CRM is about moving from fans and followers to customers and advocates.

Have you dabbled with social CRM? What are your thoughts? Please share your comments in the box below.

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  • Fantastic post!! And right on time for me, as I’ve been doing some research in this direction. Thanks Jacob!! 🙂

  • Many companies adapt the role of social media now..if not they will be left out..this is something i stress to my small business clients..

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  • Jacob,

    great article, you killed it with the last quote:

    “By 2010, more than half of companies that have established an online community will fail to manage it as an agent of change…”

    That really sums it up…it’s not enough to just be present anymore.


  • This is so true – and it will become even more going forward when everyone will realize this epochal change in communication needs is out there now!


  • bradmays

    Love the graphics, Jacob. Great summary of the evolution and pointing out where most companies struggle – in changing business processes to meet the demands of the customer. When I worked with AT&T to help establish its current social CRM program that now includes a dedicated team of representatives throughout social channels, including Facebook, Twitter and forums, one of the challenges that the brand met was finding a way to scale their efforts to address customer questions at the speed of social media. As I work with other large brands to implement a social CRM strategy, I find it’s often that internal integration required to address questions from parts of a business that traditionally don’t interact frequently and with any speed. The speed required to operate in the social web changes all of that. Thanks for the post. @bradmays

  • Great article. It is very true that you can’t just hide in the shadows of building your social media rep. Enjoyed the read

  • Jacob, you rock!! I’m thrilled to see you demystifying Social CRM here on Social Media Examiner. Love the diagrams too!! Two thumbs way up. (Missed you at BlogWorld – it was quite the whirlwind!)

  • Wow, I’m loving the tips and the easy-to-understand diagrams here. I totally agree with you here that many businesses fail simply because they rush into the social media wall without even wearing a helmet ( social crm ). I think the toughest challenge for startups and small businesses is keeping up with the conversation when your readers or prospects come from different time zones. I’d love to be able to engage meaningfully – and fast.

  • Great article!! I get people asking about social CRM all the time and what it actually means. Now I have somewhere to direct them.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos (

  • I think social media CRM is going to explode in the next year or so. When you can interact publicly with customers, and solve their problems, others will see that and feel more comfortable with your company. You will have earned their trust.

  • Rich

    Can you name some of the more popular social crm tools to implement?

  • Hi Jacob.This is truly a unique and educational article. You really demystified Social CRM. That is a achievement by itself.This is a absolute must read for anyone that want to learn about Social Media and Customer Relationship. Social CRM, Brand Equity and Customer Loyalty is three crucial components for me that works against the Hotel Industry. Your article added a lot of value to me. So this will be bookmarked, and utilized!Thanks!!Cheers.. Are

  • Angela

    Love it!
    I get it!
    Now… looking for the Social CRM that rocks! Where is it?
    I love Oprius for the relationship builder (i.e. self created emails you can send out for repetitive questions with the click of a button) but it lacks in so many other ways…
    I’ve looked at all the big ones but they all lack the relationship builder or are wayyyy too expensive… any suggestions…

    looked at: big contacts, sales force, etc.

  • Whistler Heather

    Well bingo on the article… When I read stats from 2008 they do not mean much to me – because of the evolution of Social Media.. It is like your twitter account and who follows who…1/4 of the followers need to be deleted because they are not playing the game!! Social Media is authentic and relationship based first… thanks whistlerheather

  • Thanks Jacob

    I especially like your excellent graphics that explain the range of changes from conventional CRM. Your post took me to your site where I found the whitepaper that extends the ideas a lot further.

    I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on how to change the behaviours of B2B sales teams who are still being trained extensively in adversarial sales methodologies driven by a very different understanding of CRM.

    My own take is that their role has to change so that they become “business development coaches” where they can use their specialist knowledge to add value through great questions and maybe earn the right to shape buying decisions.

    Thanks again for an outstanding analysis.

  • Linda S.

    Thanks Jacob for a fantastic article! Social media has exploded the traditional marketing, media and customer service models and is now starting to completely remake how companies do business. The social CRM approach aptly illustrates how the consumer is at the center of all parts of a business whether that’s customer service, PR/marketing, R&D, merchandising or pricing. It’s really all about scaling a social enterprise…

    Thanks for another great post Social Media Examiner, love you guys 🙂 (and gals!)

  • How clear can it be? This clear. Jacob, thank you for sharing this.

  • i hadn’t even heard of crm until this article. I’m glad to get the whole scoop in one fell swoop 🙂

  • Daniel

    o.k I’m brain damaged. I may have known the term, however, this is basic sales strategy. In my past employment, my last employer had been doing that for ages. They have a sales force, large marketing department and are always advertising.

    So, what’s new. The acronym?

  • I like how you end it simply, with “Social CRM is about moving from fans and followers to customers and advocates.” Managing that process and integrating it into all organizations within a company is the toughest part, in my opinion anyway.

  • Fiermanauthar

    Excellent article. Love it!

  • You are very welcome, hope it helped clear things up and explain what is starting to turn into this amorphous concept. The goal was to provide something that people can put their arms around, so to speak. Thanks for the kinds words!

  • Hi Elijah,

    Thank you very much, glad you found it valuable!

  • Thanks Brad, I actually just sent you a tweet 🙂 Sounds like you have done some interesting things around Social CRM. Hope we get a chance to chat!

  • Thanks Jonathan!

  • Hi Mari,

    Thanks for the kind words, getting some amazing feedback so I’m hoping the post made sense to everyone 🙂

  • Thank you very much, that’s the goal right? Keep it simple, if everyone can’t understand it then there is no point talking about 🙂

  • Thanks Sheldon, I think you’ve actually left me a few comments on my blog as well, great to see you here as well 🙂

  • Oh wow, there are so many vendors that call themselves SCRM solutions. To be honest I’d focus on a specific use case or business objective you’re looking to solve instead of looking at vendors based on the buzz word. So, for example, if you’re looking for a vendor that can offer you a great community platform then I’d look at vendors like Lithium, Jive, Get Satisfaction, etc. Hope that makes sense!

  • Hi Are,

    Thank you sir, that means a lot! It’s tough especially in a space that is still growing and filled with a lot of “hot air” so to speak. The approach here is to keep things simple so that everyone can get and understand what this is all about, if I’ve accomplished that tasks then I’m happy 🙂

  • Hi Angela,

    As I mentioned to someone else that commented I’d encourage you to start with the business objective or use case and then look at the vendors, what problem are you looking to solve?

  • You are very welcome 🙂

  • Hi Peter,

    Thanks! We actually have a lot of images but many of them can be found on my blog at if you connect with me on twitter @Jacobm I can send you some links and we can chat more.

  • you are very welcome!

  • Thank you for the kind words and for reading! Glad it made sense and was simple to understand, no need to complicate things right?

  • haha, you know sometimes it certainly feels like it’s the acronym. Sales strategy is one of the pieces of Social CRM but it impacts all parts of an organization. The simple way I like to explain what Social CRM is as follows:

    “solving the same business problems that have always existed within organizations, but doing so in a way that addresses the change in customer (and people’s) behavior. Meaning, who people trust, how they shop, where they go online, etc.”

    Always happy to chat more if this doesn’t make sense, we can connect on twitter @jacobm

  • Thank you!

  • Thanks 🙂

  • JC Steels

    This a articile is great. It gives a lot of answers on social CRM in a clear an simple way! Thank you for this.

    The only point I don’t really fully understand is what you mean when you say that the customer now defines the process. Do you means that companies should continues organizing their relationship with the customer but should understand that they will never have the full control anymore.

    Thank you

  • JC Steels

    Oops, sorry for all the typos. It’s early in the morning here in Belgium 😉

  • Lorne

    Jacob, great thought-provoking article. What tools would you recommend for the SME sector? I’m primarily engaged with developing & implementing Social Media Strategy for SME’s operating within the Food & Drink sector.Thanks,Lorne

  • excellent !
    I work on my facebook page @fayafi, and I can tell ur 100% right.
    Now I have close relationship with my customers. They becomes my partners .

  • hi there,

    I s there anyone that can recommend goog scrm to use ? tks

  • The points you make about relationships between customer and company are on point and getting hotter with each passing day. Companies who grasp this concept and run with it will out perform any other company, no matter the relative size of their advertising budgets.
    Sue Painter

  • Caboodleinfo

    Have you heard of Caboodle? We are a full service social media and mobile marketing solutions company. Would love to share with you what we have to offer.

  • Intersting but missing snapshots on results of trends and analysis.. jut videos

  • Sunny

    I’m so glad that the tide has turned back to building relationships. That was always a corner stone of sales, in my opinion, but I’m glad to see that social media tools have turned the focus of business in general back to relationship building.

  • Great to see a post break down the differences between traditional CRM and Social CRM. This really sums it up: “It’s very important to keep in mind that social CRM is not a new ‘thing’ that replaces CRM, it’s simply an evolution of what CRM has always been.”

    The customer is now social. You’re still managing relationships with customers like before, it’s just a far more social relationship. Social CRM tools are then a solution for companies to easily manage this evolution of CRM to Social CRM. Plus, like you mentioned, there’s new, added benefits: uncovering your advocates, nurturing them, and pulling insight from the dialog that teaches companies about themselves by seeing their businesses through the eyes of their customers.

    Some of the other comments asked about tools. We’ve developed Social CRM as part of our social media management platform:

    Jason Weaver
    CEO, Shoutlet

  • haha no worries, on a side note I really want to visit Belgium!

  • A few people have asked me this actually and I keep going back to the, “what problem are you trying to solve” question. Different tools do different things. In the client work that we do, tools comes second to last.

    Thanks for the kind words!

  • Hi Jason,

    We actually had a client that was using Shoutlet, a large-ish franchise org so I’m somewhat familiar with the product. I saw the SCRM product you are referring to, but where it the CRM aspect of it?

  • Thank you for sharing this , it is new as a concept to me but while i’m learning i can read about everything to improve and this is useful i’m sure !! 😉 Can’t wait for more

  • Chuck Steveskey

    Why are todays marketers so resistant to the use of SM, primarily Facebook, to promote and drive sales for their products? It is a simple equation to follow, but one they seem to want to hold to a higher standard than that of traditional media perfomance, which carries significantly higher price points and percentage of wasted dollars. Creating consumer Fan Pages, recruiting members of shared interest, using key advocates/influencers to promote and direct other members/friends to have a positive opinion about the product and then using the event tab to create a call to action for Ecommerce, Mcommerce or retail sales. Shared product experiences suggesting that you like and buy a product using product placement in photos to tell the story with engaging content. Not rocket science! What media buyer can say that one specific ad they ran in Print or placed on Radio or TV was the one that made consumers buy their product. If there was one, it would have been running for the last 50 years! “Half my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half.” Why then do marketers think SM will be different. The advantage is that at least you know your audience and can communicate a more personal and direct message that is not overtly advertising. And if half your SM investment is wasted, at least it is a much less than the price tag of a wasted 30 second Super Bowl Commercial!!

  • Great post, Jacob. Always enjoy your insight – and I would say you have done a very nice job of making this topic understandable to the masses! I help people try to understand these concepts daily and now have something great to point them to! Thanks. (don’t worry, you’ll get all the credit…)

  • p.s. is your profile pix on your social media examiner blog anywhere near Yangshou, China?

  • You know, I think it was actually taken at the summer palace in beijing 🙂

  • Thanks so much for the kind words!

  • We’ve rolled out a whole new Social CRM aspect to the Shoutlet platform this month (we also have a franchise-friendly, tiered SM management feature set, our Multi-Account Panel). In short, here’s just a few SCRM highlights:

    * full conversation management platform that tracks Facebook activity by fan, which tracks social interaction down to the user level and provides an aggregate view of a fan’s Page activity (as well as tagging functions that companies can use to build lists of fans for reference)
    * in-platform Facebook response management (and workflow management/task assignments for internal teams)
    * influencer scoring that ranks fans by activity level, which lets companies pinpoint their biggest fans and encourage them to become evangelists in highly targeted social media promotions

    Would love to show you the new Social CRM if you’re interested.

  • good post Jacob, as usual.

  • Great stuff Jacob, I think the key to this is…that IF you are on Social Media, it IS CRM if you are doing it properly. Otherwise, it’s just business as usual. And this is why MORE than half of companies utilizing Social Media are doing it wrong. Businesses NEED to be there, and NEED to be doing it properly. Failure on either count is trouble.

  • why thank you 🙂

  • Todd Mcdonagh

    Jacob, Advocates/Loyalist/Raving Fans, whatever those individuals are called, who absolutely love your brand are the gold ring companies/brands. Let those individuals be your voice, as long as your have cultivated them through transparency and trust. Nice piece. I work with a tool called JitterJam that is bridging this gap to businesses.

  • i am a media management student from munich and i really enjoyed reading your post! tons of key learnings in it, helpfull für big companies as well as for small start-ups!
    best sentence “Social CRM is about moving from fans and followers to customers and advocates” – go a step further and say its about moving the brand and his trade marks from the company to every single customer.
    best regards
    Christian H

  • Hi Lori,
    I have done some research on CRM software – there is xeesm Flights, they are a series of software to use for free, however it seems to work best with Salesforce (this is the only contact base they are working with right now.)

    Gist is another free program, still working on it to see how I can work with everything.

    So far my address book seems to be working the best, there is one flaw with this, that is it doesn’t automatically update, I have to manually update it.

    Let me know what you find.
    I wrote a review on xeesm

  • What a great article. And great graphics!!!

  • Sylvie Merlo

    You really hit the nail in your article! It’s most valuable for my actual projects. Many thanks Jacob. Best regards, Sylvie

  • Love the post, thanks! I love watching the evolution of ‘pull’ vs. ‘push’ marketing. In fact as both a marketer and consumer the power in the hands of the consumer means that products that are being delivered to us are of a much higher quality. I love it!

  • Great summary, Jacob.

    Just 2 precisions:

    – Brands should LISTEN before TALKING
    – Communication and ads centric mentality should be avoided

  • Great job, Jacob.

    As customers become more social online, businesses struggle to manage their communications with them, since they are now happening on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and other places in addition to in the ‘real world’.

    This is a great overview for folks who are new to the concept – thanks for pulling it together.

  • Natascha Thomson

    Great blog. Thanks so much!!

  • Social CRM is a technology tool that helps companies stay more connected with their customers and manage customer relationships in an organized way. However, to realize the full potential of Social CRM, businesses must use these tools and their data as a part of a more comprehensive customer engagement strategy.

  • ceper

    love the quote “many organizations still do not understand the CRM value of social media” so sad but true..nice blog though:)

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  • The goal of any business is to become successful and earn good profits. But for that, having excellent CRM is a top priority. You customers are the ones who are going to decide where your business is going.

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  • It is this kind of an fascinating thing having this info of yours. I was interested using the subject about this, also because the movement of the topic. Keep up doing this. Customer Contact Management Software

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  • I find charts as a really helpful way of learning. I actually don’t have any idea about CRM, but now that I’ve read this, I think I’m fully loaded with all the information already. I’m grateful that I found this blog. Thank you. 🙂

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  • I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I’ll love to read your next post too.

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  • This is the best Social CRM infographic I have seen. Thanks for sharing and backing it up with relevant data. 

  • Great post! CRM is very important to understand, indeed. I use this software called GreenRope, I’m sure some of you have heard of it. It lets you manage EVERYTHING all in one dashboard: email marketing campaigns, CRM, sales automation, etc. 

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  • Great article and very incisive.  Initially, we struggled with finding ways to add social media systems but eventually we realized that we should actually approach the problem from the opposite direction.  If your company is still struggling with these questions, i’d recommend this article:  Read it a couple of times if you have to.  It’s a great way to get the geras turning the right way.

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  • 1cetzel


    I am a working adult who is currently going back to school, my final paper is on using a CRM system and the relationship and future on how social media can provide insight into applications of a CRM system.  I need more information on what companies are using thier CRM in conjuction with social media.  If you have any information or companies I should look into for a case study?  Authors I should read would also be a big help.

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  • Does anyone know of any good SocialCRM add-ons for SugarCRM?

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  • Glen Elkins

    Social networks are constantly growing, and so is the need for social CRM. Add me on Facebook to follow the development of a brand new social crm platform.

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  • astro

    Good article. The emphasis on Social CRM at the
    moment seems to be on brand development, which don’t get me wrong is a good
    thing. However I believe that it has more to offer that has not been exploited
    yet; more innovative ways of maximising the benefits available from SCRM. I am
    thinking about things like the target advertising employed so well by Facebook.
    Does anyone know of any other developments in the SCRM world like this, or
    better, anyone have any ideas for ways to develop SCRM?

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  • Great article Jacob.  I find the stats around Social CRM extremely valuable as I’m trying to educate some of my largest clients of the benefits of marrying social networking with their antiquated CRM strategies.

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  • JoshAdam

    Problem we found is that less than 9% of our customers used Facebook/Twitter very frequently, more over when we said we had announced a new product on our facebook page and twitter we were met with protest as they hardly ever read it. Email was far more effective for them, technology for the sake of it sometimes isn’t worth it. Also when I’m personally searching for a new service/product I use google not social media, are there any stats on how social media really helps business, in our case it didn’t help and we found other avenues more cost effective, i.e our own website and email to stay in contact, also a chat feature on our website was the most effective at staying in contact. Anyway just my contribution as I know from speaking to many skeptics they think like us. There are off course some who will find social media beneficial but to what cost/benefit?

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  • Fantastic post! I really like how you explained the origins and progress of social media. There are some products out there calling themselves SCRM, while there are also some really great tools who manage to integrate the social media well with the CRM. Agile CRM offers a great combination of CRM-social media- marketing automation, and is aimed at small businesses and startups, helping them sell like a fortune 500. Definitely worth checking out.

  • Social CRM is entirely required in the world of today. Users are so extremely connected that not having your foot in the social door is just as good as shooting the foot altogether.

  • Social CRM is entirely required in the world of today. Users are so extremely connected that not having your foot in the social door is just as good as shooting the foot altogether.

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