Social Media as CRM
Working in sales has introduced me to a whole new way of thinking about my network of relationships. In my current position, I have a CRM (customer relationship management) software system in which I keep detailed records of the thousands of prospects and clients I have been introduced to in my time with this company.
It’s a full CRM package that lets me track and focus on my customers. Most of the time, when I am reacquainted with one of these contacts, I’ll recognize the name but I won’t remember the details of the interaction. With my CRM, I am able to jog my memory and catch up with that other person.
If you aren’t in sales, this type of relationship tracking may still sound familiar. If you have a Facebook account, you are using a CRM. You may not think of your friends as “customers,” but you are monitoring them just as you would a customer, waiting for another opportunity for a mutually beneficial interaction.
For professionals, this is even more so the case with LinkedIn. On Twitter, you “follow” someone so as to have a continual reminder of their activities or content. Social media, in all forms, is a customer relationship management. It’s how you stay in touch with your network.
Enter Google Plus Circles
Much has been written about Google’s new social network and one of its most widely discussed applications is its “Circles.” Circles enables people to categorize contacts. It’s a quick reference to remember how a particular contact fits into your life. On several occasions, I have seen a name in my Google Plus feed and didn’t remember who they were until I saw that they were in my “Tweeps” circle. Then, I knew that I must have met them on Twitter.
“Circles” makes relationship management quicker and easier than any other network has up to this point.
Sure, Facebook and LinkedIn have “Groups,” but they function somewhat differently. They are like exclusive clubs within your network. Not everyone in your network is in a “group.” On Google Plus, however, everyone is in a Circle. That, I think, is the key differentiator. I have Facebook friends whose profiles I have to read just to remember who they are (especially when names change). With Google Plus, I can tell instantly who everyone is just by glancing at which circles I’ve put them into.
The Social Media wars will go on. Google Plus has just gone public and is pushing for growth. Facebook, the incumbent, is bringing out its arsenal to fight back. Other networks are trying to work their niches to keep themselves on the playing field. If there is one thing that will rocket a social networking site to the top, though, it’s going to be how well it functions as a CRM. As for now, it seems to me that Google Plus is well on its way to number one.