There is a lot of discussion about the influence of Social Media on our industry and products. I use Social Media applications quite a bit. I enjoy keeping up with friends and family on FaceBook. Staying connected to the many people I meet in business on LinkedIn. We’ve been experimenting with social collaboration tools like ManyMoon and Streamwork. I occasionally tweet on twitter. Many new applications are appearing all the time like Plaxo and Naymz. FaceBook now accounts for more Internet traffic than Google.
What does all this mean for ERP? Besides a customer’s email address and website, should we keep a list of Social Media ids? If we have them what can we do with these? Here are a few things I’ve seen companies do with Social Media:
- Have a personal or company Twitter feed.
- Follow your customers on Twitter. If you follow someone Twitter will send them an email telling them you are following them, perhaps they will click on the link and see your Twitter page and perhaps follow up on some advertising there. Perhaps they will think of you whenever they look at their list of followers.
- Create a FaceBook fan page for your company and then invite all your customers to “become a fan”. Then they will see your posts in their feed. Don’t post too much and keep them useful, or they will remove you.
- Become connected with your customers on LinkedIn. Everyone wants more contacts. Then they will see what you are up to in your status, perhaps generating some interest.
- Post useful information on your Social Media sites so that people will read what you post. Only post advertising or special offers off to the side, so you aren’t just perceived as spam.
- Use Social Media to build community around your company and products. Encourage your customers to network and communicate via your Social Media sites. The more activity the better. Fostering a sense of community is a great way to foster customer loyalty.
- Consider using the new sites like ManyMoon and Streamwork to collaborate on jobs. Use it to encourage communications and feedback from your customers on projects you are working on for them.
- Use Social Media sites to manage project workflow, especially when several vendors are working together to make a project successful.
- Have a company or personal blog. Amazing how many people will read these. Reference it from your other Social Media sites.
- Google searches will show up your Social Media sites, giving you far greater reach in getting found by customers.
Within ERP we will be looking to provide convenient links to pursue these sorts of activities. Can we do a marketing campaign from CRM based on an ERP sales history to your Facebook and LinkedIn contacts that meet a certain criteria? In places where we allow email, can we also allow contact via FaceBook? I would certainly welcome any comments or suggestions on ERP – Social Media integration. We are still in an investigative phase and are very interested to know what people think.
The world of Social Media is growing fast and changing fast. It’s been immensely successful for people’s personal life. I don’t think Social Media for the workplace has been fully solved yet. I think we are seeing a start, but I think the company that will be the true FaceBook of corporate Social Media has still to appear on the scene. I suspect there is a startup somewhere that will emerge like a rocket to fill this space with a new innovative approach.
Not everyone is on the Social Media bandwagon. There are a lot of questions about whether it will die under the weight of spam like email marketing largely has. Some people question the value of the relationships you build in LinkedIn or Facebook calling it relationship inflation: http://blogs.hbr.org/haque/2010/03/the_social_media_bubble.html. Certainly privacy concerns are paramount. People are getting tired of FaceBook applications that do one quick thing like offer a survey, and then spam you until you remove them. There has been a lot of abuse, and a lot of cleanup needs to happen, but I think these will be solved in due course.
Personally I think Social Media has a lot of growing to do. Growth has been explosive, and a lot of catch-up needs to happen. But think of how much time people now spend in programs like FaceBook. If you want to connect to me: