Social Media and CRM – thoughts on how they should connect

I have done a few articles in my blog on how I'd like to see Social Media integrated to CRM (especially ACT!). The two most relevant are ACT! by Sage and Social Media – Social CRM and Thoughts on ACT! 2010 beta (#ACT2010) - The good, the bad and the ugly

But, since those, I have seen the social media sites expand their capabilities and have seen many more people using them for the business connections as well as their social ones.

From a business point of view, this is introducing many issues with maintaining and managing those relationships and the methods you use to communicate with them. So I thought I would expand my view of some of the ways they should integrate. Obviously, as my focus is ACT!, some of the items might be specific to that CRM environment.

Contact importing/sending and syncing

Social Media has meant that people are making connecting with people in a wide variety of social networking sites like LinkedIN, Facebook, Plaxo, Twitter, Google Buzz and others.

But good CRM strategy means that you should be able to centralise all the points of contact. Basically, I think this should just be one way (from Social Media to CRM) – although, some social media platforms also allow you to load your contacts into them to search and see if they exist, then link them. This would be a good option for those platforms that provide this facility.

  • Import all (or a lookup) of social contacts/friends from the social media platform
    • Check to see if Contact already exists by email (all email fields) or Contact Name
    • For each Social Media site, there should be a dedicated field to fill in the key that links the CRM contact to their profile
    • As many people use different email addresses for social media sites, when adding the email, it should check if the email address exists. If not, add it to an additional email field
    • Ability to define if the imported contacts are Public (all CRM users), Limited Access (some CRM users) or Private
  • Should also import picture field (if available)
  • Ability to send a lookup of CRM contacts to the social media network and request to connect or invite the contact if not found
  • Ability to sync changes made by contacts on social site to CRM - including a picture field. This can be turned on for all or some social sites. An easy way to keep your data up-to-date


Many social media platforms (like LinkedIN and Facebook) provide the ability to add “events”. These should be imported as activities in the CRM – with the option to link to a specific contact or to the user’s own record in the database.

Social Media Display

This is to display the contact's social media profile in a tab when you are working with them.

  • For each social media platform this requires two URLs and a dedicated key field
  • When looking at the contact and displaying their SCRM tab
    • If key field is empty, use first URL for search. Try email first (all email fields). Then, if that fails, try Company+Contact or just Contact
    • Allow user to select a contact (if only one contact auto select - most likely for email match) and link to the Contact in the CRM by adding the necessary data to the key field
    • When contact selected, and the direct key added to the special field and use this with 2nd URL for future views of the contact directly
    • Add a check to see if user is connected to the contact. If not, add a button to add them - this will usually display more data and can also change the link field

Blog/Micro blog

  • From the Social Media Display (above)
    • These might be URL with dedicate field from above (Twitter, Facebook, etc) or a web field separate from the web site field in ACT! (for Blog)
    • Should also have the ability to "favourite" an individual post - record it in History
    • For additional power add for Facebook/LinkedIN (Comment, Reply Privately), Twitter (Reply, Retweet, Direct) - so it's like an off-line client
    • Comments, Replies, Retweets, Directs should have option to automatically generate a history
  • Email
    • Maybe add ability to read/send emails via Facebook, LinkedIN, etc
    • If Send, also write these to History
  • Collection of data for accounts
    • Ability to combine updates on Groups/Companies like is done now for Notes, Histories, Activities, Sales Ops – this allows a Company wide view of their social media
    • Also ability to create Dynamic Groups based on Twitter or Facebook lists and LinkedIN groups


  • I haven't really thought through the implications of this... but if all of the above is done, some additional security might be necessary - eg you might be a LinkedIN Contact, Facebook Friend, etc with a contact that others in your company are not and not wish them to see
  • What other items might need to be controlled?

As you can see, my view is that CRM (specifically ACT!) should be the centre of all knowledge and communication and this level of integration and functionality makes that a reality for social media

I'd be more than happy to hear any thoughts/comments any of you might have on this


Unknown said...

From my perspective the greatest challenge is how to be selective in the type of information that is either viewable or integrated into the CRM system.

The key to getting value from this kind of integration is to be able to extract the information which is relevant to business whilst filtering out the mass of trivia.

Of course, what is "relevant" will vary from business to business.

GLComputing said...

Thanks Jeff... yes, that's one of the reasons I want to selectively be able to add an item History (or better to a separate table).

I think the next stages (after these) are to be able to filter the threads and generate reports that provide true business intelligence

Unknown said...

Great comment Jeff, one of the main challenges of some CRM tools I have tried out was relevancy.

Gist is a tool that covers a lot of what was discussed in the article (not sure it'd readily integrate with ACT!), but I find the relevancy of Gist to be pretty bad. So far it seems like all or nothing, as the learning engine for what I mark as relevant doesn't seem to work very well.

Example - if you have a contact named "Jeff Granger" it will show me blog posts written by you based on your blogger profile, but also about anyone named Jeff Granger, any other bloggers with your name, news articles of someone with your name (either as the subject or author). It creates a near never ending stream of "noise".

Filtering is important, as is the learning engine so it can fine tune relevancy.

What I have found is that for my specific industry (Consulting to the Federal Government) is that a lot of the newest social CRM features are less relevant to me. Contracting Officers aren't out blogging about their next big deal, they aren't allowed.

GLComputing said...

I just had a quick look, tell me if I'm wrong - Gist sounds a bit similar to Whoozy, which can link to ACT!:

But while they can display from the various social networks, they don't fully integrate in the ways I mention in the post

They do allow you to upload your contacts and find them, but not report back - and only from the apps they have built links to (no SDK/API)

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