All posts by Michael Fein

Social CRM: Leveraging Peer Pressure

Written by: Michael Fein
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Your best friend is the best marketer in the world.  It’s true!  Don’t believe me?  Did you see the movie she suFeinFamggested?  Could your best friend convince you to buy a new wardrobe?  Lease a new car?  Join JDate? Without a doubt, the people who are closest to you are more influential than a Google search or a banner ad.  Word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing is arguable the most powerful form of marketing.

As the smartest person in your organization, you are probably asking yourself the smartest question: how should you invest your money to increase sales?  As a company, it is difficult to make the case to write a check to your best friend.  Or at least it used to be.  With the amount of big data floating around, it increasingly makes sense to leverage your friends to market to you.   Social networks allow analysts and marketers to eavesdrop on those influential WOM conversations.  Certainly the depth of measurement varies on Facebook, Twitter, and others such as SnapChat.

Quick aside: this is why the multi-billion dollar valuation of SnapChat makes sense.  Yes the photos disappear, but SnapChat knows about your connections.  Since people generally send snaps to their closest friends, marketers will pay a lot to advertise on that network.  Now imagine integrating that same data with your existing CRM databases.

socialcrmSocial CRM is here.  Many companies already grab data from social networks to understand what you, the consumer, are likely to purchase.  The more advanced are customizing your web experience based on your friends’ purchases.  Such bullies! Is this nothing more than peer pressure?  Your friend Bobby bought a new video game so you should too… by clicking on this red button that we A/B tested with copy to ensure the strongest CTA… 

Despite my dramatization, I am in no way cynical of Social CRM.  On the contrary, I view social media as the lens to true consumer insight.  There is no other medium that moves so quickly and rewards marketers with such immediate response.  In my capacity as Director of Insights, Analytics, and Measurement at Fanscape/The Marketing Arm, I oversee a cross-vertical team of analysts whose task of proving business value begins with understanding people, their relationships, their passions and their conversations.  We look at the Social Graph, the Knowledge Graph, and all the other “Graphs” to turn social media data into predictive analytics for our clients.

Let me level set as there is no value in overstating capabilities.  Politico reported that social media can be used to predict senate elections with more accuracy than traditional polling.  Others have shown they can predict personality or even intelligence.   We work with our more advanced clients to provide recommendations to R&D for new products, track B2B influence within private social networks, and make product recommendations in-store at the point-of-sale.

At its best, Social CRM allows for integrating measures of social media influence into existing CRM databases for real-time omni-channel marketing.  Unfortunately, on the agency side, I frequently see three challenges impeding organizations from moving towards Social CRM: money, time, and a lack of vision.  If vision is your issue, put your glasses on.  Anyone who struggles to see this wave of marketing probably struggles to understand why digital content now has to be “thumb stopping.”  As for the issues of time and money (i.e. technology), this seems to go back to the same question: how should you increase your money to increase sales?

Let me try to convince you:

  • 43% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it on social media. (Nielsen)
  • 77% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family. (Nielsen)
  • 81% of U.S. online consumers’ purchase decisions are influenced by their friends’ social media posts (Forbes)
  • 49% of U.S. consumers say friends and family are their top sources of brand awareness, up from 43% in 2009. (Jack Morton)

Still not convinced.  Then start small.  Start with trying to understand how you gather information. Forget the micro-pieces of data for a moment.  Even at a macro-level, understanding the clusters of influence in online WOM will provide direction insight for your marketing and, if executed properly, provide a self-evident business case for larger Social CRM integration.  If you’re still skeptical, let me help you earn your bonus by challenging you.

Be the person with the vision.  Be the game changer.  Will it be easy to get there?  No.  Social CRM requires a data-driven organization that uses evidence-based decision making to get results.  It is not a technology issue that is stopping you, it is a cultural issue.  And hey, we’ve all been there.  Surely you have faced that moment when you believed something was so good, so right, that you knew you could be influential.  You know, like that time you recommended that movie.


Excerpt from my keynote on Social CRM: Connecting Word-Of-Mouth to Sales, presented on February 4th, at the Digital Analytics Association’s Los Angeles Symposium to address the importance of Social CRM.   You can follow me on Twitter @DigitalStats.