The level of confusion around technology and technology definitions is increasing. The Social Media Academy together with Xeesm worked on a way to resolve confusion and help explain the major pillars of the Social Technology Cloud.
Social Networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Myspace, Orkut, Xing and many others serve a variety of purpose in business as well as private lives. They become instrumental in an engagement to create a better customer experience as it allows to meet and to listen to customers where they are. However Social Networks are not exclusive to sales and marketing teams to connect with clients.
While Online Communities had some ups and downs in the past, they will become a strategic play in a companies customer engagement strategy. All businesses will very soon want to provide a dedicated platform for their customers to meet and converse online – way above and beyond the classic support communities. While market leaders including Lithium, Jive and Ning will need to improve their community offering to serve a broader customer spectrum including SMB companies, online communities are an integrated part of a social business engagement.
Social Media Monitoring
A whole different type of solutions are Social Media Monitoring products. While most started out to identify sentiments in the market and learn what customers saying about their brand, Social Media Monitoring became a strategic solution in lead generation and opportunity identification. Social Media Monitoring tools help feed CRM and Social CRM systems and continue to be paramount to monitor brand attitude and brand value. Leading brands include Alterian/Techrigy, Scoutlabs (Lithium), Radian6 or Sysomos and many others. New applications in the SMM field will include influencer identification, business partner monitoring and other more granulate ways to better understand the needs of a given ecosystem.
Social CRM / Social Relationship Management
SRM and SCRM systems are again different beasts. They are built to help teams actively engage with customers, prospects and partners as well as other market constituencies. Sales Teams, Marketing Teams, Product Managers, Service Teams don’t ‘live’ in the SRM or SCRM tool but use it to quickly reach to their contacts and focus on specific objectives or goals while still socializing. SCRM and SRM tools provide the bridge between the external social web and internal systems. While a customer may never have direct access to an ERP or CRM system, they should have access to a Social CRM system. And like the traditional CRM systems also SCRM systems need to have functionality such as Forecasting, Opportunity Management and provide some work flow guidance to the sales, marketing or support teams. Market leader Xeesm.com and young companies like SocioToco or Gist try to enter this market with dedicated solutions to support business teams in their challenge to create a better customer experience.
Social CRM is a solution that supports a “Business Strategy” (not a social crm strategy) that most likely is set to create a better customer experience measured by increased advocacy for brand, products and services. Social CRM needs to interface with Social Networks, Social Media Monitoring, Branded or non branded online communities on the outside and traditional IT on the inside. Only if the actual customer has access to that Social CRM system, the attribute ‘Social’ is appropriate.
In addition to the four major pillars of the Social Technology Cloud there is a large offering of tools. Currently more than 5,000 tools support the above core systems and many of the core systems establish themselves as platforms to support and host those tools.
An industry in the making
The Social Technology Industry will be a Billion Dollar industry by end of this year. While the majority of the revenue is generated through advertising and sponsorships, many of the services and tools for professional usage is sold as subscriptions or consulting services and trainings.