Gartner Blog Network

The Social Customer: a Book Review

by Mark P. McDonald  |  September 8, 2011  |  1 Comment

The Social Customer is the best book I have read about executing social media in marketing.  That is a strong statement, but after reading more than a dozen books on the subject, from what exists right now (August 2011) I would recommend you read this book.  Read it for ideas and new ways of thinking about social media as it applies to marketing and customer engagement – Social CRM.    Here is why.

Adam Metz provides a comprehensive, well through out, and well-presented view of as much of the totality of social media, CRM and marketing as anyone.

Metz provides a simple and descriptive way to think about social CRM.  Companies need to recognize that the customer is no longer just a customer but a ‘social customer’ with different needs, ideas and wants.  Your brand, product, or service is no longer just that – rather you want it to become a social object.  A social object is something that people look at, discuss, and pass from person to person, put their stamp on.  These simple ideas are powerful in changing the way you think about social media, branding, marketing building and CRM.

This book is more like a downloaded website on Social Customers and Social CRM than it is a book.  It has a heavy focus on implementation decisions and realities rather than trying to make an executive argument about Social CRM.   This is a treatment we desperately need to create value from Social CRM.

The table of contents provides the best illustration of the coverage of this book.  I found these chapters break into three distinct sections which I have described below:

These first four chapters constitute the firs part of the book that lays out the concepts and argument for Social CRM.

  • Chapter 1: The Brand as Social Object and the Business for Social CRM
  • Chapter 2: The “How” and “Where” of Engagement and the Four Social Customer Scenarios
  • Chapter 3: Social Customer Relationship Management
  • Chapter 4: Social Customer Insights and an Introduction to the 23 Use Cases of Social CRM

The next six chapters that detail the 23 Use Cases for Social CRM follow the first part.

  • Chapter 5: Social Marketing
  • Chapter 6: Social Sales
  • Chapter 7: Social Support
  • Chapter 8: Social Innovation and Product Development
  • Chapter 9: Collaboration
  • Chapter 10: Seamless Customer Experience

The third section starts at chapter 11 and focuses on the implementation and operational aspects of Social CRM.  Organizational, metrics and operational issues are the focus of these remaining chapters.

  • Chapter 11: Metrics and Rationale
  • Chapter 12: The Methodology
  • Chapter 13: Social CRM Strategy
  • Chapter 14: Misunderstandings and Failures in Social CRM
  • Chapter 15: The 98 Percent Customer Management Model
  • Chapter 16: Social Customer Analytics: How to Tell if Your Team’s Doing it Right
  • Chapter 17: Work Flows and Escalation Paths
  • Chapter 18: Social Advertising, The Social/Mobile Platform, and Integration with Retail
  • Chapter 19: The Social Customer and the Law
  • Chapter 20: Consumer Trust and Ethics
  • Chapter 21: International Feel

Now 21 chapters in less than 260 pages means that the book is not equally deep in all areas, but each chapter provides a context and links to materials you will need to consider.   This book is not a series of blog posts loosely stitched together. The chapters are small, ranging form 6 – 12 pages that provide a connected view of the issue.


  • The book treats the topic of social CRM comprehensively considering it from all angles and aspects.  I found the pieces on Social Customer and the Law and the 23 use cases particularly helpful.
  • Open, in the truest sense of open source and open innovation.  Metz liberally borrows and builds on the solid word put forth by others from Greenberg’s CRM at the Speed of Light, to Kim and Mauborgne’s Blue Ocean Strategy.  Metz does not claim to know everything and he builds onto these and other ideas and frameworks.  This is in the true sense of open source as these additions advance everyone’s thinking.
  • Flexible as Metz often raises issues through asking you consider various questions, conditions or situations rather than assuming that your company is the same as the others or that all situations require the same solution.  This is critical to creating an implementable set of advice.


  • The book is a little vendor centric, particularly at the beginning where it seems that the advice, ideas and recommendations are attributed to people from Social CRM technology companies.  This balances itself out as the book progresses.
  • The book gets a bit ponderous in the middle as you go through the 23 use cases.  The march through 21 chapters make some of the middle chapters blend together so its not a bad idea to put it down and come back latter.  Definitely read some of the latter chapters on measurement, the law and trust.
  • The case studies are short, helpful but a little too superficial to give you a sense of their issues and implementation experience.

These challenges are not insurmountable.  I would recommend reading the first part of the book, Chapters 1 – 4 and then take a pause.  Put the book down for a few days and then read the middle section on the 23 use cases and the last section on implementation details.

Highly recommended as an actionable, practical and integrative resource for engaging the social customer and creating your own social objects.  Business Unit Leaders and CEOs will learn what social media applied to marketing and CRM are really about. Marketers and Sales professionals will get new tactics and ways of thinking about social CRM.  CIO’s and IT professionals will better understand the context of social CRM and the convergence of technology, marketing and the social web.

PS: If you found this review helpful and you do not mind taking the time, please vote for it on on the book’s web page.[Follow this Link]  To the book and the review section.  Thank you.

Additional Resources

View Free, Relevant Gartner Research

Gartner's research helps you cut through the complexity and deliver the knowledge you need to make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: book-review  marketing  social-media  social-organization  

Tags: book-review  social-computing  social-media  web-20  

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a Vice President and Fellow Emeritus in Gartner for General Managers Program.

Thoughts on The Social Customer: a Book Review

  1. Ed Hawkins says:

    Good review of a good book. This book had good range and reasonable depth. A good review of the what – less rich on the how – worth buying.

Comments are closed

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.