1 to 1 Social CRM – why weren’t we doing it last year?

We are all familiar with the traditional CRM / Direct Marketing / Data Driven Marketing / Direct Response*, *choose preferred name here, world.  Whatever you call it, essentially it’s where we collect data about an individual, determine what we think is relevant for them by looking at their behaviour, their purchases, or from research, and map it to our business needs. Then we put it all in a database and use it to drive mass-customised messages – the key being that we incorporate personal information from our database and then use automated rules based systems to generate relevant communications.

The most prevalent example of this right now is email. (And let’s not get into how good some specific brands are, or aren’t at doing email marketing, that’s a topic for another day!).

This lunchtime I met with one of my (recent) old bosses. He’s a digital guru. I’m more your data type. Now that those two are to all intents and purposes the same discipline, I felt suitably empowered to tell (show off to) him with much enthusiasm about the new Facebook activity we’re doing at Albion for giffgaff, our very own Crystal Ball which is a one to one messaging platform that sits within the walled garden of Facebook that fans can opt in to (I know, I give great lunch date material).

Anyway, what we’re doing is posting personalised messages direct to a fan’s wall, using their own information, which they can then choose to share with their friends or not. But where it adds to the existing social media fan page management 1-2-1 marketing, i.e. ‘respond to comments’,  is that it does so on the same mass-customised data rules driven basis as email. So we don’t need to broadcast to everyone the same, or with limited segmentation, in the newsfeed. We can post a relevant message to your wall, at a time that’s relevant to you. So we don’t get lost in that ever growing stream of newsfeed updates.

At this point he reminded me that well over 18months ago (it must be because I haven’t worked with him for that long) he had pointed out to me in my capacity as Head of eCRM (which broadly meant “runs email clients”)  that Social media and CRM should be one and the same. Why shouldn’t social media messages be automatically personalised? Why aren’t we serving direct one to one messages on people’s walls?

And it made me think about why now it is a great idea, but back then it wasn’t. And I know exactly why:-

a)       There was no proven tech that allowed us to do that then

b)       Facebook felt like too precious an arena to make it likely that individuals would sign up to any form of direct brand communications on their wall

c)       And the second point lead onto the fact that not enough brands wanted to take a chance on pushing automated messaging in Facebook, it just felt too intrusive and not ‘consumer friendly’ enough

So what’s changed my opinion?

As to the first one, with the right knowhow there is the tech to deliver this. (yes, we have that know-how)

The second one is more of a cultural shift – social media isn’t quite the precious walled garden that it was. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t use it as for flyposting, but it’s not quite the ‘no-no’ it was – or at least felt like to the more traditional CRM view of the world.

Which brings me to the most challenging point – how do you ensure that any personalised messaging doesn’t feel intrusive. That is the creative challenge which brands are now addressing and resolving. For giffgaff, where the social community is king, we are giving our fans total transparency about what we are going to communicate with them and what it will be about. They also have the choice whether to share what we post or not.  And we are telling them it’s a test and letting them decide how helpful it is.  Each brand will have its own approach to the value exchange with their fan base, and I still believe this is the critical point to get right – but it’s totally do-able.

So it’s one thing to have seen the future 18months ago, but quite another for it to have been a practical reality. And now, and it’s only recent that it is, at Albion we’re making everything we can of it for our clients.

Campaign Jobs