Corporate social media must not become CRM 2.0

Summary:

Corporate social media campaigns require sophisticated two-way communication strategies.

10/21/2011 – Although this 2008 article was prescient, the low cost of social media marketing minimized the bottom-line risk of haphazard, ineffective implementations.  The growth of marketing automation technology — with its dazzling whistles and bells, along with performance promises based on rational but incomplete assumptions — presents an opportunity for waste and dysfunction truly analogous to the CRM debacles of the previous decade.

Large corporations need to learn from their disastrous customer relationship management (CRM) programs if they are going to succeed with social media strategies. CRM technology offered many of the same promises that social media touts today. Companies could build “real relationships” with millions of customers and prospects by gathering detailed information about large audiences, then segmenting it to “personally” communicate with them, serve them better and build “loyalty.” It never happened for lots of reasons.

Because CRM involved large investments in the technology itself, and disruptive cumbersome implementations, the technologists and bean counters, instead of the creative marketers, owned the function (or too greatly influenced it). Therefore, it became – and still is – a means to do more things with fewer people at less cost, rather than a tool for becoming more effective and profitable.

Thanks to the Internet, social media campaigns don’t require the huge infrastructures that helped doom the potential of CRM. At the same time, companies need to understand that making promises to customers means you have to keep them.  Customer respond to social media that creates relationships, not campaigns that bombard audiences in a new way. People must believe that relationships are real, even if they know mass-media technology is behind them. Unless corporate social media campaigns employ effective two-way communication strategies, they will not deliver long-term benefits to the company profits.