Twitter CRM? Nah!

by Sachin Balagopalan on March 23, 2009 · 4 comments

Actually the buzzword should perhaps be “Social CRM” as Jeremiah Owyang accurately points out in his post. A couple of weeks ago I was trying to setup my new HP scanner/copier and I needed information on some drivers. Almost instinctively I went into Twitter (that’s right not Google :) ) and searched for the keyword “HP”. Lo and behold HP’s imaging and printing group had it’s own Twitter page (@HP_IPG) and I was surprised to see an overwhelming number of tweets addressing my topic. The fact is customer relationship is highly decentralized these days thanks in part to Web 2.0 and search engines (a.k.a. Googling!). Brand names are increasingly utilizing these tools and today announced that it will integrate Twitter into it’s product base - in addition to Facebook - via it’s Service Cloud platform thus enabling users to manage tweets/conversations within the domain.

Jeremiah has some interesting observations …

Twitter has two of the three key features of a CRM system
First, let’s break down why Twitter is going to be a Social CRM, let’s start by analyzing what entails Customer Relationship Management:

1) Customers: Yes, they got that. More than that, they have prospects, which to some marketers is far more valuable. As prospects start to talk about products, they’re indicating engagement, and could be further down the buying process. Both are valuable, however the challenge is mapping which Twitter ID is which customer –many don’t use their real names.

2) Relationships: Got that too. Now I realize that the intended definitions of CRM meant the relationships between customers and employees of a brand, but now you can see how people in Twitter are connecting to each other, and those that follow a brand, their indicating affinity towards them. The interesting thing is they don’t just offer affinity towards your brand, but also competitors, which helps in segmenting your market, and can help with poaching.

3) Management: Here lies the opportunity Twitter has no management tools to support this, as a result, their data is being whisked away in the API and being aggregated by two types of companies. The first company? Traditional CRM companies are importing the data into their own systems, in fact we know bits and pieces of this are happening for Facebook. Secondly, brand monitoring companies like Radian6, are importing twitter data into their listening platforms, and then offering simple workflow and task management.

I think the opportunity is there but I’m not so sure if Twitter needs to get into the “management tools” or analytics business to avail the opportunity. I suspect traditional CRM’s like Salesforce and brand monitoring companies will actually pay for the data given the fact that’s where their customers are and not on the phone calling their 1-800-xxx-HELP number. Monetizing the API is probably a lot more lucrative IMO than getting into the app business. What Twitter needs to do is make sure the API is solid and wide open. It needs to be easy to use and responsive so third party developers will have the confidence to build applications on top of it. They need to take a page out of the iPhone/AppStore book and focus on the API rather than applications. It’s kind of ridiculous to get into the app business because that will open up a whole new can of worms. They need to design the apps which means they have to go out and find domain experts who specialize in CRM etc. They have to also worry about QA/verification, sales, support and the whole nine yards to get the apps out to market. Not worth the trouble. Let the third parties take care of it. Do what you do best!

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Google: Not Acquiring Twitter But Talks About Search
04.03.09 at 9:37 pm

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

John Moore 03.23.09 at 6:44 pm

Good insights on how Twitter and CRM capabilities are more closely related than many people believe. I agree with you that a key for Twitter will be to ensure that they maintain a rock-solid platform with robust APIs and provide an infrastructure (think's SForce Marketplace) where partners can developer and deliver solutions.
There is great opportunity for the platform as long as everyone is capable of executing.


Jeremy @ BuzzStream 04.17.09 at 7:49 pm

I think the most likely path for Twitter in the short run is a premium API. But it’s a key decision they may decide to put off as long as possible…. if they go the API monetization route, it will be difficult to also do apps later, lest they find themselves competing with their customers. But then again, Twitter is so powerful, it may not matter at all.

Jason 10.07.11 at 8:18 pm

I could agree more - A robust API system is what keep Twitter ripe for innovation.

Think about it, Twitter is a place to meet great people and form truly meaningful relationships. But, let’s face it - Twitter is HARD!

It took me forever to find a good Twitter CRM and I’m just happy I finally did:

Tweetlr is beautiful, actively maintained and classy. If you need a little help managing twitter accounts. Give it a try!

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