Social CRM – effectively the integration of social engagement with customer relationship management (CRM) strategies – is arguably the ‘next frontier’ for non-profits and membership organisations who want to ensure meaningful social interactions with members, donors, supporters, customers and stakeholders.

Of course, the debate around what defines Social CRM (a.k.a. CRM 2.0) versus traditional CRM has been raging for at least the last two years. With the worldwide explosion of social media usage – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. – it’s no wonder that organisations are feeling under pressure to be where the people they need to interact with are.

However, using social media as a channel for engagement raises some very interesting challenges for users of traditional CRM approaches. With social media, it’s the members, donors, supporters, customers and stakeholders (and their highly influential virtual networks), rather than non-profits themselves, that are now driving the conversations.

Seismic shift

The challenge is for organisations to embrace this seismic shift with a new Social CRM strategy which recognises the type of collaborative experiences that those they interact with expect and, indeed, value. But while they may have much greater control over how they interact with you, make no mistake, they don’t run your organisation, nor do you have to concede everything to them.
What this means fundamentally is that Social CRM is actually an extension of, and not a replacement for, your traditional CRM. Of course, there’s a dramatic change in terms of what it adds to the features, functionality and characteristics of a CRM ecosystem – but if you thought that the advent of Social CRM means traditional CRM is dead, think again.

New challenges

At Hart Square, we work with non-profit organisations in the UK every day. The rise of Social CRM certainly does pose new challenges to them and is the subject of numerous discussions that we have internally and externally. We believe that Social CRM is a natural evolution of CRM, and that CRM itself has always been an ‘ecosystem’, not just a piece of software; and that it is core to any organisation, regardless of sector.
Not only is CRM a vital ecosystem, but traditional CRM systems are alive and kicking, evolving and as dynamic as ever. The people you want to engage with have to be the focus, the centre of all that you do, and traditional CRM system principles remain as vital as ever.

New ways to engage

There’s no doubt that Social CRM is giving organisations new ways to engage, and a new balance to relationships, but internal business processes and delivery systems have just as important a role to play in on-going success. In essence, a Social CRM strategy is an organisation’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation. But in the end those organisations must have the expertise and tools in place to enable that…