Jeremiah Owyang recently wrote an article for CRM Magazine Social CRM Vendors Don’t Walk The Talk where he puts a number of CRM vendors through the spreadsheet grinder to see how their social media engagement measures up to the social media features their products espouse. BatchBook was not included in the analysis, though BatchFriend and customer Paul Mabray from Vintank.com was kind enough to mention us in the comments.
I agree with Jeremiah, but I think there is a clear distinction between the CRM companies that are now making a social media play versus the social media upstarts who are incorporating some traditional CRM features such as sales and customer service management into their products as they build them. Jeremiah highlighted a number of products that were developed around older (phone, e-mail, direct mail) marketing tools and are now working to add social media as an additional sales channel. Alternately, there are newer products like Jive, Gist and our own BatchBook that really began as social media communication tools and have added sales features as another layer.
Not surprisingly, those with Web 2.0 roots have more integration with social media throughout our products and throughout our company cultures, as well. As he mentions, social media is not a linear channel that can be “added on” in the same way previous channels have been. It is an intricate web of blogs, comments, tweets, direct messages, friend requests, recommendations, favorites and hashtags each with their own sub-culture and mini-dialect that together shape the direction of a conversation. Whether it’s sales, customer service, or project management, this new dialogue is not fully represented unless you can track all aspects of the conversation, and more importantly, understand their meaning in context with your relationships.
I applaud Jeremiah for calling companies out for more engagement. He makes great points about not only supporting customer and developer discussions, but also showcasing those communities as a vibrant component of the product. He’s also given us a few ideas for pushing our community into a more prominent part of the product. And isn’t that what social media is about? Using a public kick in the pants to move your efforts forward.
While it’s certainly interesting to watch how the older, more established companies work to fit social media into their product offerings, I think it’s even more interesting to build a product around the new tools as they are being developed.