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Social for CRM: the preposition proposition.

by Michael Maoz  |  January 3, 2013  |  6 Comments

In his 1994 album, Wildflowers, Tom Petty wrote a song, Time to move on, and the entrance goes like this:

It’s time to move on, time to get going
What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing
But under my feet, baby, grass is growing
It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going

And a few of us feel that way about the term Social CRM. It was never a great term, but it was – and maybe is for most – a sturdy enough term.  It just feels a bit like a draught horse when you’re looking for an Appaloosa.  Apropos Tom Petty and what we are doing here by adding the preposition ‘for’ between the “Social” and the “CRM” is that he and Rick Rubin decided that the five-piece band around Petty was great, but to really capture another dimension a whole lot of other talents were needed. They went out and invited greats like Ringo Starr and Carl Wilson and Michael Kamen to strengthen the songs and give the album a new depth and subtlety.

And that is what we will be doing more of in 2013 – broader collaboration with other superb Gartner teams like our Social and Collaboration and High Performance Workplace colleagues. Analysts such as Jeff Mann, Sue Landry, Nikos Drakos, Tom Austin – and many others. We have been building more synergy with those groups – and joining their research teams – to expand the meaning of “Social for…..” in a more cohesive research framework.

Our preposition proposition is to simply say “Social for Marketing,” and “Social for Customer Service,” and “Social for CRM,” as examples. What is Social for CRM? It remains a business strategy. It is a strategy of building/fostering/analyzing customer connections, reputation, trust and intentions, and harnessing them to recommend, buy, and/or advise. As we have said in the past, Social for CRM benefits the business by fostering engagement, participation and interaction among customers, and among employees, prospects and partners.

Three things to end with:1)  let us know what you think. Are you thinking: ‘this makes sense!’ or are you reminded of the 1998 film, Something about Mary and the discussion between Ted and the Hitchhiker that goes:

“You heard of this thing, the 8-Minute Abs?” (hitchhiker)
Ted responds: “Yeah, sure, 8-Minute Abs. Yeah, the exercise video.”
And the hitchhikers great new idea:
“Yeah, this is going to blow that right out of the water. Listen to this: 7 —- Minute —– Abs!”
2) Look for our new vendor guide, the 2013 Social for CRM Vendor Guide, to be released soon – categorizing and listing all of the latest segments and vendors.
3) Look for much more from colleagues Jenny Sussin, Adam Sarner and others on the topic.
Social suffuses everything – from inventory to HR to travel to social shopping, selling, customer service and marketing. Social is a part of the grander Customer Strategy, for which CRM remains a useful, albeit imperfect proxy. Social for CRM, we believe, will be an acceptable refinement. But what lies ahead, as the song goes, I have no way of knowing. Ultimately – you and you alone will decide.

Category: analytics-for-social-crm  applications  cio  crm  innovation-and-customer-experience  leadership  social-crm  social-networking  social-software  strategic-planning  

Michael Maoz
VP Distinguished Analyst
13 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Michael Maoz is a research vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. His research focuses on CRM and customer-centric Web strategies. Mr. Maoz is the research leader for both the customer service and support strategies area and customer-centric Web… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Social for CRM: the preposition proposition.

  1. Kaitlin Maud says:

    It sounds to me like you’re definitely going in the right direction! I spoke with Jenny Sussin about this at length a couple of months ago. In my opinion, there has never really been Social CRM – at least not in a literal sense. As you mentioned, it has been a sturdy catch all, but social FOR CRM more accurately represents usage of social media for acquisition, customer service, relationship management, influencer identification/promotion, etc. Unfortunately social media has never really been a literal vehicle of CRM, as it is merely the media by which CRM programs are facilitated.

    Excited to hear more!

  2. Brad Hodson says:

    I suppose I kind of fall into the category #1. I don’t necessarily see the need to change, but I get the idea.

    If I understand correctly, you mean to say that the term “Social CRM” denotes perhaps a replacement of “CRM” itself, whereas “Social FOR CRM” is a whole other facet… that replaces “CRM” itself?

    But I see what you mean, in a way. Social for CRM would be based on the true definition of CRM, and not just the technological tool that makes CRM more efficient.

    Perhaps that’s where we need to make a change. Maybe we should have a preposition in a new phrase “CRM for CRM”, eh?

  3. Jenny Sussin says:

    Great comments.

    Kaitlin, you and I have tweeted about this so I’m going to unceremoniously jump right into Brad’s comments.

    Brad, completely understand that feeling of “come on, do we have to rename/rephrase something again?” I think one of the things that should really be brought out here is that social isn’t standalone and while it’s something some of us say we realize, it’s definitely not a realization everyone has come to. When we say it’s social for CRM, it helps to reinforce the point that there needs to be some sort of business objective or even just a purpose for what it is people are doing with social.

    Looking forward to continuing this conversation here and on Twitter if you’re so inclined. @mimaoz @jsussin and Kaitlin I’ll throw you in the mix here @kaitlinmaud

  4. vikas nehru says:

    This is a welcome change.

    Social (mindset and tools) applied to a specific business purpose such as customer service, marketing, sales is definitely the right approach. It creates focus and a fair framework for comparing vendors.

  5. Katy Keim says:

    In tech, we all love our descriptive names but ultimately, the way I look at it is in the minds of the buyer — not just all of us banging around in the echo chamber.

    I have always agreed philosophically that Social CRM was a strategy…but unfortunately most of the business executives I work with don’t see that nuance. They see CRM and they think: technology, long and expensive deployment, a system. Long ago, the “Customer” in CRM was slipping away.

    I do think you’re heading in the right direction because a buyer might ask: “how do I use social for customer service, or social for my marketing efforts’. This isn’t just about technology — it’s about what, alas, this helps a company do to build that relationship with it’s customer.

    For us to really set the tone and tenor in helping companies, we have got to put that CUSTOMER back at the front and center of our CRM conversation–whatever we call it.

    [Full disclosure: that is why we at Lithium we talk about customer experience. we don’t say CXP because, again…why let that customer word disappear! ]

    But once we are done vigorously debating (as no doubt you know I always do) — let’s get focused back on impact. Because the dollars saved or gained are worth a thousand words…. ; )

  6. It does sound like 7 minute abs to me, sorry.

    Even if it’s probably (somewhat pedantically) reflecting more accurately what’s going on out there, the reality is people only listen when you “coin phrases”, not when you add propositions.

    Personally I think the difficulty of marrying the social with the CRM stems from the fact that social and CRM simply don’t go together like horse and carriage and no matter how many prepositions you stick in between, they won’t close the gap.
    CRM was always about “power to the business”, build intelligence and use it to convert leads – an asymmetric battle. Social is turning the tables and it’s giving the “power to the people”.
    So just putting the words together doesn’t make it a strategy, in the same way being on facebook, linkedin, twitter doesn’t mean you have a social strategy.

    Sorry if I sound a bit anti-social…

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