There’s a colossal social CRM battle shaping up. Software conglomerates will face-off against start-ups as both use big data strategies and big data infrastructures to mobilize friends, fans and followers in more sophisticated and more personal ways.
The big guys, Oracle, Adobe and Salesforce.com, bought up the first round of start-ups like Vitrue, Buddy Media and Wildfire, who pre-built social media applications and paved the way for thinking about how to identify, engage and stimulate brands’ fans. E big CRM dogs offer so-called “complete” solutions that link social activity to data marts and layer on BI tools, rules engines, campaign management systems and loyalty programs. Their sales guys are hawking end-to-end solutions that integrate social participants into a larger CRM universe.
Second round start-ups like SocialWhirled, Checkd.in or Shoutlet, focus exclusively on social media. They intend to help brands figure out who their fans are, what they really care about and develop personalized ways to engage them that lead to sales, advocacy and measurable ROI. They use APIs to suck out consumer data. By data mining the take, they create segments and distill actionable intelligence to create resonant promotions or lead consumers through a purchase path. Many use rules engines to time or trigger communications. Some link or can bolt-on loyalty programs. Still others can import or export data to traditional CRM platforms like Oracle, SAP, SQL or SAS.
The common objective is customer insight. Conventional CRM wisdom is that the more data points; the better. The big guys offer what appears to be the whole enchilada -- an online-offline aggregation of purchase history, contact, campaign and response history, web traffic, mobile usage, social activity and even geographic location.
The upstarts offer social data and social activity with the promise that these data sets can be married to others but more importantly they can drive real-time communication through pre-fabbed digital, social, mobile or location-based apps or messaging.
Both sides will provide software-as-service (SaaS), secure cloud storage and consulting help. Most will provide ways to analyze the data or dice and slice on-demand.
The key to handicapping the battle and to making smart social CRM decisions will turn on the answers to six critical questions, which will be unique for each brand:
- What are your business and communications objectives for social media?
- What role does social media play in your marketing mix?
- How important is a “whole customer” view?
- How do you collect, aggregate and use customer data now?
- Can you analyze, data mine and report on social media data today?
- How will you harvest and apply data-driven insights?