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Five Hot CRM Trends That Will Make Your Customer Relationships Sizzle

With so many likes, shares, tweets, and pins to keep track of, it can be difficult for marketers to remember that it’s not what you’re attracting, but whom you’re attracting.

Loni Kao Stark, Adobe’s director of product and industry marketing, discourages marketers from thinking about social as “just another source of data.” Instead, she encourages them to remember that social CRM is about relationships and connections first and foremost. Here are five social CRM tips to help marketers form and maintain those relationships.

Think about the “we,” not just the “me.”

While many marketers look at consumers as individuals, Stark encourages marketers to view them as part of a group. “A lot of what a person does is motivated by their environment,” Stark explains. She says viewing individual consumers as part of a larger picture will help marketers understand what kind of “clusters” they identify with, who they’re influenced by, and how people react to particular groups.

Context is key

To avoid coming off as invasive, brands must be conscious of each social channel’s context, such as by recognizing that the social etiquette expectations consumers have for their intimate social circles differ from the ones they hold for brands. For example, a brand associate engaging in a conversation with a consumer via LinkedIn may appear more acceptable than chiming in on a conversation between a consumer and his friends via Facebook.

“We all have different circles of friends, and in those circles of friends, we’ll talk about different things and we’ll be interested in different things. …It’s okay that they’re different and that the context of it is different too because then businesses can see what those folks are interested in and what are the best areas to engage them,” Stark says.

Consider your own social community

To avoid committing a social faux pas, many companies are developing their own social communities. Stark says these networks allow for more dedicated and deeper engagement because members share similar interests and have a general understanding of what kind of relationship they’re getting themselves into.

Ask the right questions

When trying to determine the key insights marketers can derive from social, Stark advises asking the following: What do marketers think their customers are doing in the social space that’s of interest to their business?

Stark says this question helps brands identify what social activities they care about and the best ways to engage consumers without being inappropriate.

She also recommends identifying the kinds of social interactions that would enhance the product experience. Should a brand, for instance, provide insight into how people are using the product or try to determine consumers’ desires?

“It’s about being proactive,” Stark says. “As a business, how can I actually provide areas or places for people to connect?”

Know your place in the space

All brands want to be buddy-buddy with their consumers, but being viewed as more than just a Facebook friend isn’t always possible.

“A lot of the challenge right now is that social media started as an individual-to-individual thing, and brands started mimicking people,” Stark says. “They try to be like people, but they’re not.”

Hence, while a brand’s business associate might not have the level of openness to discuss weekend plans with a consumer, he or she does have the credibility to conduct a more product-centric conversation.

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