Social CRM may sound like a fancy term but all it means is integrating your contact’s social media information into your current arsenal of knowledge about prospects and customers.  Many companies use systems that are called CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) systems to keep track of client and prospect information and share that information effectively within a company.  Now, Social CRM platforms are taking tradition CRM one step further.

Here’s why you should know about Social CRM.

1.    You Are Ignoring Important Information About Your Customers and Prospects If You Aren’t Using Social CRM

Remember when you used to scramble for a recent news story on a company before you met with them so you could have some topics to chat about during your pitch?  Well now with social CRM, you can have your customer or prospect’s latest social media conversations integrated into your CRM (contact management) system.  Due to the transparency and timeliness of social media, you can see what your prospects or customers are up to as recently as a second ago, any relevant personal or business information about them, and who they may be able to introduce you toand have this all on one interface that your entire company can see simultaneously. 

If one of your prospects just tweeted that her company just released a new product today, you should reflect this in your conversations with her.  This information is out there and if you aren’t taking advantage of it, you will be less likely to appear up to date.  These new Social CRM systems save you from having to check 10 screens.  All of the information you need is in one place.

2.    Social CRM Tools Will Replace Traditional CRMs

Whether it’s a traditional CRM system adding social features, or “new” CRM systems that are built with social media as a key driver, your contact management system needs to be highly integrated with social media. A good “social” CRM solution will integrate your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn contact information and feeds with your email inbox and with all the contact information, communication history, and workflows within your organization stored in your traditional CRM systems.  It will allow you to assign tasks to other members of your team, schedule appointments, share social messages with team members, all through one interface.  Due to the fact that social networking is not going to go away and it is the most efficient way to stay up to date with contacts, it makes sense to start integrating all of your contact information through a “social” lens.

3.    You Can Try Social CRM for Free

Currently two of the top, leading-edge new “social” CRM companies are completely free, so why not try them? These providers are Nimble and Gist.  While these companies are both planning to come up with paid versions, they are free now and are great examples of the easy interfaces that join Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email and traditional CRM features. 

Nimble is a cloud-based tool, which means you only need a Web browser in order to start using it.  Nimble presents all your contacts on a single screen and allows you to manage them as a whole, including information from all social media sources and eliminating the need to jump from window to window and cut and paste information.  Gist requires an easy install using a series of browser plug-ins.  Gist aggregates all of your social and traditional information on your contacts in one place.  Gist prioritizes your contacts based upon importance of your relationship so most relevant information displays first.

Some of the traditional CRM systems have also added social tools to their existing CRM systems.  One CRM solution known for doing this is Batchblue’s Batchbook.  For user reviews on some of the leading Social CRM tools, visit business tools review site Comparz’s Social CRM rankings.

In conclusion, social media needs to become part of your contact and lead management strategy.  Fortunately, there are systems out there that let you easily manage this.  The key is having an easy interface so that you don’t have to have 10 screens open in order to keep track of your customer and prospect relationships.