Twitter in the corporate world is one that is ever evolving. As Twitter has come to prominence as one of the premiere social media marketing, companies are always looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve and be an innovator in the digital age. How companies handle their Twitter accounts is different for every single company. Some companies emphasize interaction with their customers, while other companies use it for promoting new products and others use it as a way of bringing attention to goings-on in the organization.
Most companies were just starting to try and figure out how they could make money off of social media platforms starting in 2009. Of the 2009 Fortune 50 companies, only 54% of companies had a Twitter account (Case 96). Most communications and public relations departments were using them as a way to get across press releases, financial statements and links to stories about their company. Companies did not realize that interaction was the key to these social platforms until Twitter became popular in late 2008-early 2009. Early research into the corporate social media showed that many companies used social media to link to press releases and quarterly updates (Heaps). The research did have a section that explored the level of engagement that companies had with their community. “In terms of usage, the most common use, by 85% of the firms, was to distribute news,” while only 19% of these companies used Twitter for any kind of customer service (Case 99). Of the 80 companies that Heaps looked at, only “…48 percent of the companies have consistent @replies and tweets” (Heaps 19). Now companies employ teams of people that are solely dedicated to running the company’s social media accounts. Around this time is when more companies started increasing their experimenting and taking chances to figure out what people were looking on these platforms. Being that the study was written in 2009, there was a lack of understanding on the impact that engaging with the customer base could have with social media. The question becomes how do companies judge social media’s impact on the bottom line?
CRM for social media?
As Twitter became more popular, companies soon found that they could impact their business by being on the social network. What these companies soon realized was that users were looking for transparency. They wanted to “see the wizard” behind the curtain that companies were able to hide behind. CRM is something that has been used by companies to measure results and customer satisfaction for a long time but in the digital age CRM isn’t enough. As many marketers are coming to the realization, it is not as simple as showing stats and results with social media. Lawrence Ang suggests that to approach social media you cannot simply rely on CRM but have to focus on Community Relationship Management. Sometimes social media is blurred into existing CRM systems instead of being viewed as separate entities; as the company’s social media users are not always customers of the company and not all customers use social media (Ang 32). In CRM the business knows the ins and outs of their customers and customers, typically, do not interact with each other (Ang 33). While on social media, a company does not have that knowledge of their users outside of what they put on their profile and the users that regularly interact with each other on company’s social media pages (Ang 33). “CRM is concerned with managing the relationship between all customers…CoRM, on the other hand, is about managing the connected community….”(Ang 33).
In the past if a customer has an issue, the company would be able to handle it quietly and the general public would never find out about it. With Twitter they are able to broadcast it to their followers. Just because someone says something bad about a company on social media, it does not mean they are even a customer of the company nor do they want to be (Ang 150). The important thing is to focus on the community a large and not solely focusing on gaining new customers. “The key is to manage a community of users (including customers)” (Ang 150). This includes people who might not ever buy the product but would have an impact on the community as a whole.
Chipotle is one of the best at CoRM, with over 90 percent of the tweets responding to @ mentions. They have a three person team that focuses on interacting with customers, discussing both positive and negative tweets. They also “sign” their names at the end of each tweet so the person knows who they are interacting, allowing each team member to have their own personality within the company. This enhances the personal message of getting a response from the restaurant chain. It also shows that the focus is not just on trying to convince people to eat at Chipotle but they value the input of their customers.