If your CRM isn’t taking advantage of social media, you (and your business) are going to be left behind.

Ever since the introduction of ComcastCares (a legacy CRM application that took into account customer interactions and ushered a new era of social CRM) a decade ago, social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter continue to change the dynamics of social CRM every year. From providing customer sentiment analysis to reputation management, social media has proven to be a key platform for small businesses to integrate with their CRM in the past few years.

Gartner predicts the customer relationship management software (CRM) market to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.7 percent by 2021 (report available to Gartner clients only) and will be worth $37 billion in 2017.

Due to the tremendous growth potential of CRM, it’s become imperative for sales and marketing reps to have new platforms to plan their business strategy. Social CRM can be just one of those platforms to leverage customer metrics from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media.

So what are some of the social CRM trends that small businesses should note to effectively integrate CRM with social media for the next three or five years?

Before we list down the top five social CRM trends, let’s take a look at how social media has helped small businesses improve their CRM requirements over the past few years.

How does Social Media helps to meet your CRM requirements?

Social media helps your business track and manage sales, marketing, and customer data by helping you to engage with customers on social media platforms. Software such as Pipedrive, Freshdesk, and Salesforce Sales Cloud integrate your CRM software with social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. Some of the benefits that social media can have for your CRM are listed as follows:

  • Identifying key market trends
  • Build new customer base and maintain customer retention
  • Campaign management
  • Identifying influencers
  • Addressing customer comments
  • Identifying prospects and leads

Some of these benefits have been listed in the trends below, which helps you take a note of social CRM trends for small businesses in the next three to five years.

Small business will increasingly engage customers on social media to enhance reputation management

According to the Q2 2016 Sprout Social Index survey:

  • 90 percent of consumers have used social media to either purchase or post a query regarding a particular product or service with a brand.
  • 34.5 percent consumers favor social media to phone and email modes of communications.

Due to this shift from traditional marketing channels to social media, small businesses have become more concerned about meeting customer expectations based on social media comments or tweets, apart from just managing sales and marketing leads.

Source: 18 CRM Statistics You Need to Know for 2017. The diagram above highlights the top six marketing platforms, among which social media ranks second. Social media is predicted to become the leading platform for marketing due to the advent of Instagram marketing that is largely video based.

Since more consumers are flocking to social media and engaging in conversocial discussions, small businesses will narrow in the CRM and social integration efforts for reputation management. Moreover, real-time customer, sales, and marketing engagements on social media are getting faster which will lead to small businesses improving their response times to answer customer or sales lead queries.

Reputation management is all about maintaining a positive perception of your brand to help you market your product faster on social media. Since customers tend to leave negative reviews, which result in your small business getting fewer sales leads, it’s important to address negative reviews as soon as possible as 52 percent of customers expect you to respond to their review within a week.

Social media will become a major platform for sales and marketing campaigns

Source: Gartner’s The Five Stages of Social Media Adoption for CRM (available to Gartner clients only)

The diagram above illustrates the five stages essential for businesses to plan their sales and marketing campaigns on social media with the help of a CRM software. Is your social media marketing campaign aligned with these stages?

Unlike larger corporations that have big sales and marketing campaigns with big budgets, small businesses will increasingly utilize social media for sales and marketing campaigns as they would prove more cost effective. Through live streaming videos on Facebook and native advertising on LinkedIn small businesses will cash onto trending events on social media and launch the sales or marketing campaign.

According to Gartner’s The Five Stages of Social Media Adoption for CRM (content available to Gartner clients only) social campaign management will be one of the major components of multi-channel campaign management of all businesses. Businesses will use social media publishing applications to create and assist their social campaign management.

Small business will focus more on influencer marketing to drive customer sentiment analysis of a particular brand

According to a survey done by Acorn, 84 percent of marketers plan on using at least one influencer in their campaign in the next 12 months.

Moreover, 47 percent of online consumers use ad blockers, which makes it difficult for most markets to target customers with their online advertisements proving their marketing campaign almost ineffective.

The diagram above highlights the rising trend of influencer marketing over print and video advertising. Influencer marketing is set to dominate most small business marketing strategies to drive sentiment analysis.

In light of these, trends businesses are shifting to influencer marketing, because unlike big celebrity endorsements that large businesses can afford, small businesses can utilize micro-influencers to drive customer sentiment analysis of their brand much more cost-effectively. This shift in online marketing towards influencers is evident through the following indicators:

  • 59 percent of micro-influencers think Instagram is the most effective social media platform to engage their target audience. – Acorn influence
  • Nearly 40 percent of Twitter users say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of a Tweet from an influencer – Twitter

According to a study by Mediakix, Instagram influencer marketing is set to be valued at $2 billion by 2019 and further projected to be valued $5-10 billion market by 2020. With such an explosive growth rate small businesses should capitalize on the growing trend of influencer marketing to gauge the sentiment analysis of their products and services by the number of Twitter followers, Facebook likes, YouTube views, and much more and integrate these metrics with their CRM software.

Sales and marketing reps will increasingly use their smartphones to target leads on social media

Social media and smartphones complement each other, as smartphones make it easier for users to stream online content on the palm of their hands as compared to desktops and other traditional devices. Since consumers spend 85 percent of their time on smartphones on social media apps, marketing and sales reps in small business will target these leads through smartphone, which is evident due to the following:

  • 65 percent of sales reps who use mobile CRM achieved their sales target on time, whereas only 22 percent of sales reps who used non-mobile CRM were able to achieve the same targets.
  • Gartner predicts that by 2017, 65 percent sales organizations will improve sales force automation (SFA) through smartphone user adoption.

As mentioned above, it’s important for your small business to have a CRM software that integrates or has mobile platform offerings, to help your sales and marketing reps target leads on social media. You can also click this link to view and compare Android and iPhone-based CRM apps.

Sales and marketing reps will need to prioritize campaigns on messaging apps vs. social media

Traditionally, CRM strategies have focused on answering customer queries over messaging apps and using social media to target marketing and sales campaigns. As the trend towards interactions like that seems to be gaining momentum, however, businesses are putting even more focus on using messaging apps to target their sales and marketing campaigns.

For example, small businesses running a franchise retail store can create their own WhatsApp groups to offer the latest promotions and discounts instead of just resolving queries through a chat-based interface on their website.

According to Gartner’s Predicts 2017: CRM Customer Service and Support (report available to Gartner clients only), “by 2019, requests for customer support through consumer messaging apps will exceed requests for customer support through social media.”

Source: Statista. As of July 2017, there were 1.3 billion monthly active users on WhatsApp. Small businesses will increasingly target messaging apps to resolve customer queries.

Messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and Snapchat have created new API (application programming interface) access to their platforms, which helps business engage with third-party application environments like CRM systems. This integration can be used to help sales and marketing reps manage campaigns on social messaging apps along with social media.

Next steps

Social media provides small businesses with an unprecedented level of access to customer data from a number of Facebook likes, tweets, and YouTube views. By integrating your CRM software with social media, not only do you get real-time access to what customers are saying about your product, but also accurate metrics.

If you are looking for CRM software, pricing information, and any other information specific to CRM software, check out these handy GetApp resources: