Podcast: CRM and Social Media Integration

Megan Headshot.JPG

In the latest episode of the AMT-Lab Podcast series, Chief Technology Manager Ashley Anderson Kowach interviews AMT-Lab contributor Megan Ma about her research on how a nonprofit organization can integrate social media data with an existing CRM system to better understand their constituents interests which could lead to better engagement between the organization and the audience.


(Intro Music)

(Voiceover): Hello and welcome to the Arts Management and Technology podcast series. In today’s episode we are discussing social media integration with CRM systems. Enjoy!

Ashley Anderson: Hello AMT-Lab listeners. I'm here with Megan Ma, a first year Master of Arts Management student at Carnegie Mellon University, and a contributor to AMT-Lab. And today we are discussing her ongoing research in social media integration for CRM systems. Hi, Megan, thank you for joining me today. 

Megan Ma: Hi Ashley,

AA: If we could start by having you tell our AMT-Lab listeners an overview of why you wanted to research CRM, and in particular the integration of social media data. 

MM: Because CRM system is really crucial and necessary for basically every company and organization. And I think the use of CRM right now is kind of limited, they don’t use it to the...to its best effect and since social media is now probably the largest platform of many, so many kinds of data. So, the...to integrate the data from social media platforms into CRM system can help the organization especially the nonprofit and arts organization to get a better knowledge of their constituents to collect more comprehensive and various data to help them better build their customer relationship.

AA: Okay. So in your paper, you introduce the concept of customer knowledge management or CKM. Can you explain CKM and how that differs or contributes to a CRM?

MM: I see CKM as support to customer relationship management. In order to, to manage this relationship with customer, we need to know them first. And the more thorough and more information we get on our constituents, the more we can...more properly we can manage our relationship with them and maybe have more targeted marketing strategies towards certain segments of customers.

AA: I have a couple of other questions regarding this. But I want to kind of get through like the understanding of it first. So in your paper that you're working on, you have a table that I know you didn't create it, you got it from another source, but it neatly presents the different social channels and how customer knowledge management can use information from those channels for something such as identification and acquisition. You also have a column that says what type of customer knowledge is being collected, whether that information be for the customer, from the customer, or about the customer. Could you please explain what kind of information would be collected, and then how it would be used in customer knowledge management?

MM: For example, if we collect the data from their LinkedIn, it's going to be the information about the customer. And we can get the information on their educational background and their working experiences, and their...some skill set so that we can have a basic knowledge on their overall background. And now we can probably have some of their interest area and their areas of expertise that if we're looking for a volunteer with some certain set of background or expertise, then we can get those kind of information from their LinkedIn. Or if we're looking into their Instagram or Facebook background is more like personal life related. And their interest areas, what kind of arts they are interested in, what kind of events they have attended, is really going to help the arts organizations to target their audience in a more specific and customized way.

AA: Okay, I'm also kind of seeing this as being a good tool for board recruitment. 

MM: Yeah. 

AA: Because then if you are able to sort of coordinate social media data mining, per se, with maybe data you already have in-house on major donors that you've had over the years, you can kind of tailor it to look and see like, “Alright, we've been looking for somebody who has a strong financial background to join our board, this person is matching our criteria that we've defined” and now we can build sort of a solicitation around that. 

MM: Yeah. 

AA: Okay. So it's interesting that it's making it more tailored solicitations is a good way of using this as well. Cool. So you go on to explain that there are three major tools that can be used to make social media data integration possible. They are Google Tag Manager, application performing interfaces, or API's, and automation tools. Can you explain each of these tools and how they work with a CRM to accomplish the goal of integrating social media data?

MM: Um, yeah, Google Tag Manager is basically you can set a certain tag or keywords in this interface. And then when someone on social media posts something that triggers this keyword, the Google Tag Manager will let your organization know even if they don't tag or mention the name of your organization, you’re going to know where they're posting, 

AA: okay. 

MM: And API is...serves as a bridge between different platforms to exchange data. I mentioned an example of when you're buying a ticket from the movie theater website and when you receive an email confirmation of the ticket, they're going to say, you can add this to your calendar. And this is how API connects the ticketing system to the calendar platform. 

AA: Okay. 

MM: This is how basically how it works. And it's the same when it connects social media platforms to your CRM system. And it's basically a data exchange, you can get the data from social media platforms to your CRM, and you can also upload your CRM system data to some other platforms.

AA: Okay. Okay. So real quickly, before we move on to the third tool, I just want to sort of understand the API concept a little bit better as it relates to this model. So, in the example of the movie ticket, someone buys the ticket, the email confirmation says you can add this to your calendar. I understand that part of it. So, if we're using an API as a bridge between a social media channel and our CRM, is there a benefit to the account holder of the social media channel? Or is there a benefit to the organization in the CRM by using an API to connect those two? Like, what...what instance would that be like the, who has the benefit in that situation?

MM: I think it will benefit more to CRM system holder of the organizations, because there are certainly more data from social media platforms, and getting those data and integrate them into CRM system can certainly help the organization to build a more thorough knowledge on their customers than the benefit to this social media.

AA: Right... I'm just trying to think like, like through...Can you give like a...can you give a hypothetical situation that's, that's more tailored to how a CRM in… Well first are you more interested in visual or performing arts?

MM: Visual.

AA: Okay, perfect. So then we can talk about these examples because I'm visual also. Okay, so if we have a CRM at our museum, and that CRM is collecting information based on annual gala attendance, and then the API that's connecting between the social media channels and our CRM is...would it be using, would it be looking for specifically...can we, can we make it look specifically for like, images from the gala that people may have posted on their social channels? Is that one instance of using an API? Or am I completely misunderstanding how an API would work in that situation?

MM: It could work kind of involved with the process and steps I mentioned before the tools. So it's basically we need to pair up the information on CRM and social media platforms first, to make them like, for example, to pair up the names of our constituents and maybe they have a certain ID or email that pair up, then we can pair up their social media account with our CRM, and then basically all kinds of data we can integrate into our CRM system, as long as we identify them and we have a specific data field for this kind of data ads and we set what kind what form of data it will be then we can integrate images and everything.

AA: Ok. Ok. So then the last tool is automation tools.

MM: Yeah, those are some simple data integration tools that based on the tag of API's. And one example I mentioned is IFTTT. It's a website that provides its users various, they call it applets. So when you install this applet, to your account, and you can connect different your devices or apps to your account as well and then this app will also magically connect your different devices and apps, so this will work. For nonprofits...nonprofit organizations we can use this, we can also build our own applets to make it work more suitable for us. So for nonprofits, maybe we can build an app as to say, when someone posts maybe certain exhibition name or some experience in our organization, then this app will trigger a notification to our CRM system.

AA: Okay. Okay. 

MM: Yeah. 

AA: It's interesting. Um, so I'm wondering about, like, transparency, with our constituents about this type of sort of mining of their social media data, and also, in tandem with that is security. 

MM: Yeah. 

AA: So I'm sure you've considered this as...overarching issues with this. So can you talk a little bit about that?

MM: I will do more deeper research into this issue in my second part of research and it's certainly one of the issues, we need to make it transparent and let our constituents know that we're collecting the data from their social media platforms, and we need to have their consent. But otherwise, there will be other ethical or legal issues involved. 

AA: Yeah, yeah. Okay. Okay, cool. So that's, um, I'm glad that's the direction you're going in. And then also, I don't know if this is something else that maybe you're going to be considering as you get further into your research, but many nonprofit organizations have their CRM systems and proper maintenance of that system can be time consuming. Would integrating social media data add more of a time commitment? And also, like, I'm thinking about smaller organizations who may only have a staff of three to five people who also rely on the help of their volunteers and interns. Is this integration, something that would be easily manageable for a small staff?

 MM: Um, for example, for the automation tools, those are very user friendly, and is easy to use. And it's, I think, is suitable for a smaller organization with limited budget and limited staff. Because we can even use it for our own purposes and it's really easy. And the steps are really simple and straightforward. But for more complicated CRM integrations it might involve more effort into the data integration process.

AA: Okay, because I know in your paper, you talk a little bit about like, of course, with all data systems, like defining your fields in your all that stuff. So, I'm wondering, with certain CRM systems that are geared to be a little bit more user friendly, where you don't have to have a strong data background is this going to be a big leap for someone to understand how to do? Or is this something that like, you could find a couple of tutorials and easily understand how to, like, make that connection happen?

 MM: Um, I think the more complicated part is the preparation process. But the integration itself might be easier than all the preparation work that the organization needs to do. And I think it doesn't...for some simple integrations with all the tools out there and might not need a very long tutorial for the staff to do that. But if the organization is going to develop their own integration process and everything, that might be effort and staff consuming.

AA: Okay. Do you have any suggestions that you could give an organization interested in trying to do this on their own? Or is it still so new that it's like not really like, no one's really going into this territory yet.

 MM: Um, it’s a relatively new method of thinking of your CRM, because only a few organizations are integrating social media data to build their CKM. And I would suggest organizations can start with something like Google Tag Managers or other automation tools that's out there because those are easy to use. And it's going to be really helpful to integrate social media data.

 AA: Is there any additional cost involved in using tools like that? Or is it like with Google Tag Manager, I'm assuming that's probably free.

MM: Yeah, it's free. 

AA: And then automation tools are those generally free as well or like membership or something that they would have to pay?

MM: The IFTTT I researched about it is free, 

AA: Okay. 

MM: Um, both for using their already built applets or building your own applets are all free?

AA: Okay, great. That's even better news for nonprofits. Um great. Is there anything else that you'd like to add for our listeners about social media integration and CRM in general?

MM: That's basically all the research I've done (laughter). 

AA: Well, great! I'm sure our listeners look forward to seeing your final paper and reading about everything you have to share about social media integration. Thank you, Megan. It's been a pleasure talking with you.

MM: Thank you!

Transcribed by https://otter.ai