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Social CRM: How (and why) to manage customer relationships on social


Social media provides businesses with direct, real-time access to their customers. Each interaction tells a story that can be explored and learned from. But without a social CRM tool, that information stays isolated within marketing teams.

The right social media management tool can unite teams around deep customer insights, cutting confusion and increasing collaboration. The 2023 State of Social Media report reveals that 96% of business leaders anticipate integrating social data into their company’s CRM within the next three years. Making moves today can put your brand ahead of the game tomorrow.

A text-based image that says, “96% of business leaders anticipate integrating social data into their company’s CRM within the next three years.”

In this guide, we explain what social CRM is, how it can benefit your business, and the tools you can use to enhance your business with social insights.

What is social CRM?

Social CRM, also known as social customer relationship management, is a process for managing customer relationships that includes and emphasizes the interactions that take place on social networks like Facebook or Twitter.

Historically, social data has been siloed from contact profiles in traditional CRM software. Thankfully, modern brands can now use integrated social media management tools to enrich data across lead generation and CRM software, creating a more accurate view of customer behavior.

The key benefits of social CRM

Every day, your customers log on to their social platforms of choice to share opinions, recommendations and everything in between. Your social team can track conversations related to your brand, but without a process for internal distribution, these valuable insights remain limited to the marketing department.

Social CRM structures and streamlines the delivery of your most valuable source of business intelligence—your social data. The result amplifies the benefits of a social media strategy at the cross-functional level.

Democratize social insights

As market headwinds and consumer priorities shift, one thing is certain: no business is guaranteed. The differences that separate the “must haves” from the “nice to haves” are slim. Companies must stay in lockstep with their audience to maintain a competitive edge.

It’s no wonder gaining a better understanding of customers is the second highest priority for business leaders in today’s economic environment.

That better understanding starts with a commitment to achieving a 360-degree view of your customer. Leading brands aren’t settling for information from most touchpoints—email, digital ads, CSAT surveys, etc. They’re looking for the complete picture, and that can’t exist without social data.

A text-based graphic that says, “91% of business leaders say social data helps them gain a better understanding of customers.”

Leaders near-unanimously (91%) agree that social data positively impacts their understanding of customers. With social CRM, you can ensure all of your colleagues can deliver the right message to the right people and the right time.

Generate and nurture leads

Social media teams are the eyes and ears of a business. With the right processes in place, they can help sales and service teams ensure they never miss an opportunity.

Social CRM supports lead generation, qualification and nurturing by facilitating a more seamless hand-off between customer-facing teams. In practice, that might look like:

  • Social teams creating targeted ad audiences based on previous interactions with your brand across multiple touch points.
  • Sales and marketing teams collaborating on ABM strategies that encompass all channels, including personal social profiles.
  • Using social listening to surface opportunities to create surprise and delight moments through proactive customer care.

In each of these scenarios, every team member is empowered to create tickets and pass tasks on to the appropriate colleague. This streamlines their workload and creates a more seamless experience for the customer.

Deliver better customer care

You can’t deliver on outstanding customer care if you don’t know who your customers are. This is an issue that has plagued social and service teams for years. Without the proper integrations in place, handling customer issues on social media is a disjointed experience for all parties involved.

Social CRM tools cut through that confusion by collecting additional context from a primary CRM to inform social media engagements. This context equips teams with the information they need to provide superior customer service at scale.

Collaboration at this level not only enables teams to provide excellent customer service today—it sets them up to do so in the future.

Take Hudl, for example. Their team uses data from Sprout, their social CRM, to understand how seasonality impacts their inbound social message volume. The company then uses that data to staff teams appropriately during high volume months.

Jessie Koenig

Revenue Systems Administrator, Hudl

When it comes to mastering customer care, 88% of business leaders agree routing individuals to the right departments is half the battle. Social CRM software takes that previously complicated process and makes it easy.

Connect the dots between marketing, sales and service

As digital channels evolve and fragment, the customer journey becomes less of a linear path and more of a giant pinball game. Figuring out what a segment needs at any given moment requires focus and adaptability from every party involved.

When one team holds the keys to customer insights, everyone is held back from doing their best work. A shared view of the customer, rooted in data from a social CRM tool, streamlines internal processes so teammates at every level and department can collaborate efficiently.

The more marketing, sales and service teams work together, the easier it is to develop shared goals rooted in a deep understanding of your target audience.

The right social CRM software puts social data at the foundation of your tech stack, infusing it with crucial customer insights. To find the solution that will push your business forward, check out our list of recommended tools:

1. Sprout Social

Sprout Social’s CRM tools integrate seamlessly with platforms like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Hubspot, pushing comprehensive insights across a business. This detailed profile context allows teams across departments to address support issues, cultivate potential leads and deliver exceptional brand experiences.

A screenshot of the Sprout Social desktop app. A contact profile is open, displaying interactions between a brand and a Facebook user named Minnie Watkins. The Add Note window is open on the contact profile.

Contact Profile Views provide a window into users’ activity across networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. This feature creates a centralized information hub where you can find details provided by both the customer and your fellow team members.

You can even share notes, like the best time to reach a contact or details from an offline conversation, and add company and personal contact information.

2. Salesforce

Your favorite Salesforce solutions integrate with Sprout Social, allowing them to act as social CRM tools to support your entire business.

A screenshot of social data from Sprout integrated in the Salesforce platform, which demonstrates how incoming social messages can be linked to existing contacts and cases.

Sprout integrates with Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Sales Cloud and Tableau. These integrations provide businesses with a 360-degree view of the customer at every level, creating cross-functional clarity for all. With Sprout and Salesforce, your team can:

  • Create Salesforce contacts, leads and cases directly in Sprout. This means you can route social customers to support and sales without leaving Sprout or Salesforce.
  • Create a complete picture of your CRM contacts with information and conversations via social media.
  • Tie your social presence to actual business results with analytics and reporting.
  • Personalize audience segments and journeys in Marketing Cloud using social data.
  • Respond directly within Service Cloud where agents work, reducing the need for multiple tools wrapped in a layer of governance and security.

The Tableau Business Intelligence (BI) Connector is especially valuable for businesses looking to consolidate insights from several touchpoints. This tool allows key stakeholders to better understand where social fits into a larger picture through customizable dashboards—no dev work needed.

A screenshot of a Tableau dashboard populated with Sprout Social data and other marketing data.

3. Microsoft Dynamics 365

Sprout also offers a pre-built integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365, allowing sales, service and marketing teams to refer to either platform as their social CRM of choice.

A screenshot of the

Social customer care teams working in Sprout can use this integration to easily create contacts and cases in Microsoft Dynamics 365, providing sales and service teams with the necessary information to do their best work. Existing contacts and leads can also be linked to Contact Profiles within Sprout for streamlined management.

These features allow teams to easily track customer issues, record customer interactions, route cases and create leads.

Start managing customer relationships on social media

If you’re not using social CRM tools, you’re not extracting the full value of social. It’s the most efficient way to get other departments on board with the channel’s potential, allowing for better collaboration and superior results.

Schedule a demo of Sprout Social today to see what integrated social CRM software looks like in action. Our team will conduct a thorough assessment of your social media strategy and provide you with a tailored walkthrough to discover how Sprout can help you achieve your goals.

Social CRM FAQs

What is social CRM?

Social CRM, also known as social customer relationship management, is a process for managing customer relationships that includes and emphasizes the interactions that take place on social networks like Facebook or Twitter.

What are the benefits of social CRM for businesses?

Social CRM helps businesses democratize social insights to optimize lead nurturing, lead generation and customer care activities. These efforts support stronger collaboration between sales, marketing and service teams.

What is the difference between CRM and social CRM?

Unlike traditional CRM, social CRM emphasizes the use of social media to improve customer relationship management. This approach recognizes the importance of social media as a means of communication between consumers and brands, allowing businesses to improve their service across channels.

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