Social CRM Software: Which Platforms, Apps, & Tools Should You Use?

Written by Bonnie Boglioli...February 10, 2011

Navigating the Labyrinth

Now more than ever, it’s imperative for professionals and organizations to carefully craft their social strategy and seek out the right tools for the job. Gartner Research released its latest study which expects social CRM software sales to exceed an impressive $1Billion by 2013.

Buoyed by this tremendous growth, there are a plethora of platforms and apps widely available and many more in the pipeline. These tools are important assets in any social CRM strategy but only when used wisely to develop two-way conversations with customers, monitor a brand and track data. Unless you’re keen to waste precious time or money, understanding the types of social tools available and how they relate to your bottom line ensures you don’t follow the wrong path.

Start by defining your social CRM expectation, budget, team, time and necessary features. You can quickly sift through the sea of social tools and eliminate those that do not directly impact your strategy while identifying those that do.

The right tools for the job will ensure you successfully navigate the CRM software labyrinth. Below is a list of tool categories along with a sprinkling of examples (many of them free) but remember, what works for one individual or organization may not work for the next.

Analytics:

Tracking your website’s stats offers you key performance indicators necessary to understand if you’re on the right path or require a pivot. There are a slew of analytic software available and vary. Whether monitoring the effectiveness of a marketing campaign, finding traffic sources or tracking ad revenue, Google Analytics remains the single most popular and up to date of all analytics tools. Best of all, it’s free to use.  

Bit.ly, often dismissed as a mere URL shortener, is another superb resource to use alongside Google Analytics to track linkbacks to social sites by date, referrer and location. And yes, it’s also free.

Social Media Dashboards & Monitoring:

To leverage the power of social media, you need to be in two, five or even ten places at once! Lucky for us, a good dashboard is your ticket to virtual social teleportation. There is no shortage of dashboards to choose from, though a few stand out.

The much talked about HootSuite is beloved for some very good reasons. For starters, you can optimize reach by scheduling message delivery across all of your social media platforms and manage multiple contributors on your team easily. Rich in features and incredibly customizable, you can gather information on your brand mentions, track locations (and elect to speak in native tongue) and stay connected on the go with the iPhone and Android apps. Base service is free to use and offers an array of social tools to help most small businesses, while a pro service at a ridiculously low rate ($6 at time of writing) is probably worth the splurge for most.

SproutSocial gives organizations the ability to track and manage their social presence by integrating Twitter, Facebook, Gowalla, LinkedIn, Foursquare and more.  It’s slick, streamlined and intuitive with free trial periods and scalable service packages.

Catering to the business end of the spectrum, CoTweet is a comprehensive social media tool that is particularly nice to have if multiple people are monitoring your social CRM on behalf of the organization. With an easy to use dashboard and the ability to monitor multiple accounts, you gain access to trends, marketing campaigns and more. There may be better standard (free) sources available, but their scaled enterprise product gets superb reviews from large corporations.

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