The more you know about your customer’s world the more you can help them get what they want out of life. To some degree, no matter what we sell, that’s the ultimate goal of serving a customer. Smart sales folks have always made it a habit of discretely discovering everything they can about prospects and customers to find more and more ways to make deeper connections. Things like Alma Maters, names and activities of spouses and kids, and hobbies are all great bits of useful connecting information if you can discover them.
Well, social media use has made this job so easy that if you’re not tracking it, you’re not really doing your job. The fact that people now willingly and publicly post information about where they attended school, what they do in their spare time, what books they read, what sports their kids play, what they think about proposed legislation and the last ten songs they listened can be mapped to help you create a total picture of your customer’s world if you take the time to plug into their activity.
Ways to plug into your customer’s world
To me this will ultimately be one of the best solution once it’s automatically built into most CRM tools. The idea here is that you can add multiple RSS feeds to a record in your CRM system and have the most recent twitter, Facebook, blog and Flickr activity produced by your customer at hand as you prepare for a call. I’ve toyed around with a tool called BatchBook that was built with this functionality in mind. I’m certain that this approach will eventually be a part of the CRM plumbing and rightly so.
Friend Feed is a tool that was built with the idea of collecting a host of social media activities in one place, so the underlying premise plays right into what we’re trying to do here. If your customers are using Friend Feed, and allow you to connect, then all you need to do is use the list feature to group your customer’s FF feeds for easy viewing. The big knock on FriendFeed is that if your customer is not using it you can’t follow them, but users have found a way to hack around this by creating something called “imaginary friends” This is simply a group with all the feeds from your customer’s activity from saved searches, Facebook, twitter and their blog. This way your group is effectively a friend not yet using FF. The other great thing about FriendFeed is that you can comment immediately on the activity from your customers and stay in a conversation as well as track.
No matter what approach you employ for monitoring your customer’s social media activity the plumbing that drives it all is RSS technology. Once you understand this notion and then realize that every online social media tool, including very specific twitter searches, produces an RSS feed you can start to think of creative ways to make your own RSS mashups of multiple feeds. I wrote recently about Yahoo Pipes, a variety of listening devices, and using NetVibes to create a one page dashboard. All of these posts describe some of the various ways you can tap many RSS feeds to build your own custom RSS feeds.
While I’ve focused on customers, this is also a great tactic to use to keep tabs on competitors or monitor and converse with key journalists. In fact, once you get the hang of setting of few of these routines up, you’ll likely start to think of dozens of ways to use this approach.
Image credit: Ky