Monitoring for mentions of your brand for strictly reputation purposes has evolved into listening to conversations with the intent of either real-time engagement or customer insights development. Over the last three or four years we’ve seen a number of new tools hit the market that helps us further our understanding of how our customers behave online. Flashy dashboards, ability to incorporate other data sources, mobile applications, and workflow management are all things we’ve seen developed as monitoring platforms have become true listening platforms.
One such evolution that has really begun to take hold, is the incorporation of listening data and CRM processes. Think about all of the data that’s being mined, and all of the new touch points that are being created with your consumers. It needs to be captured, analyzed, tagged and then cataloged and/or acted upon.
Back in May, CRM software provider Salesforce.com acquired social media monitoring platform Radian6. The two companies had an existing partnership that allowed for easy integration of social conversation data acquired through the Radian6 platform with Salesforce.com’s CRM tool. There was widespread industry expectation that the two companies would be working on a new offering, and that new tool was unveiled recently.
Called the Salesforce Social Hub, this new application is meant to aid companies in the areas of customer service, data analysis, community management, marketing and product development through the combination of Radian6 technology, workflow management and Salesforce’s existing CRM solution. The offering does have quite a lot of potential, specifically:
- Scaling social customer service – Because this new solution will be automatically tagging and routing posts, customer service issues should be solved more quickly.
- Improved understanding of our customers – We’ll know who is driving the conversation, where they are driving the conversation to, as well as how we can directly reach them through this new tool. In addition, we can cross-reference the data we’re mining through the monitoring platform with existing CRM database information.
- Historical data – Tracking down historical data is somewhat problematic through monitoring tools (dead links being a primary issue), but the new Social Hub purports to give access to two years of historical information. That’s significant for true insight and strategy development.
There are some issues to be concerned with, however, with this new launch. Some specific areas of concern include:
- Automation versus a human being – A lot of this new tool’s promotion centers around automation and how quickly information moves throughout the enterprise. That’s great, but only if there’s a human on the other end to analyze it. Companies are still going to need to hire digital (or social) analytics experts to use the tool, mine data and then develop insights from that data.
- Identification of influencers – The claim is that this tool will help its users identify online influencers. That seems like a small stretch. Could the monitoring side help you identify who is talking about your brand? Certainly. Will it help you identify people you should make contact with online? Maybe. Defining who is influential to the community? It would seem like more qualitative work would be required.
- Workflow management requires training – In theory, it seems like good practice to send data where it can be most useful. However, knowing what to do with that data once you get it requires training. If engagement to solve a problem is the end goal, do you have a response matrix in place? Who responds on behalf of the brand? Is legal involved? Is it even worth responding to in the first place? All serious questions that, at this point, a tool like Social Hub doesn’t solve independently of rigorous social business planning.
It’s worth noting that Radian6 and Salesforce.com have continually innovated its respective products, and this is the only the first iteration of the tool, but there’s reason to take pause and understand that tools are only one part of the equation. The Social Hub may make it easier to incorporate CRM and social conversation data, but people are still required to analyze and develop insights. The social listening space is likely moving toward this sort of integration, but it will be a slow evolution.
Image credit: Radian6
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