Social CRM (customer relationship management) is becoming the expected standard for businesses of all sizes. Brands can no longer afford to use social media in isolation.

The valuable insights gleaned from social interactions need to be available to all departments. In turn, customer data from other departments can be invaluable to the social media team.

Bonus: Get a free, easy-to-use Customer Service Report Template that helps you track and calculate your monthly customer service efforts all in one place.

What is social CRM?

Social CRM stands for social customer relationship management.

It involves connecting social media channels with your CRM system, giving all team members within the company a complete record of interactions with the customer or prospect. Including, of course, interactions that happen on social channels.

That means social connections can become real leads. Your first contact with someone on social media is generally not the best time to go in with a hard sell. But without a way to track this potential lead, it’s impossible to nurture the relationship and work towards a sale over the longer term.

Integrating social media into your CRM also allows you to create a fuller picture of the success of your social marketing strategy. Customer interactions on social networks can be clearly tied to business outcomes like a purchase or subscription.

Finally, social CRM data enables you to create highly targeted custom audiences for social ads. The characteristics of existing customers are the best basis for effective lookalike audiences.

How to set up a social CRM process

Social CRM benefits all departments that work with customers or leads. It gives everyone a fuller picture of the people they’re talking to. That includes sales, customer service, tech support, marketing, and even product development.

Here’s how to get social CRM working for your business.

1. Set up a social listening program

Social listening involves tracking brand mentions, including conversations about:

  • your company
  • your products and services
  • key people within your company
  • and targeted keywords across social channels

… even when you’re not tagged.

Finding existing social conversations about your brand or your niche is an important part of building relationships online.

That might mean uncovering a customer complaint that needs to be addressed on Twitter. Or identifying a potential business lead on LinkedIn. All of this information can benefit teams across the company and provides a good starting point for adding social data to your CRM.

We’ve got a whole post on social listening if you want to dive into the details.

2. Consolidate social interactions

Your social and customer support teams may be interacting with existing and potential customers on multiple channels. Consolidating that information in one inbox ensures your CRM data is tied to people, not just profiles.

If you’re just getting started with social media CRM and you don’t have an existing CRM system in place, just these first two steps are a good first start. If you do have an existing CRM system in place, move on to step 3.

3. Incorporate social data into your existing CRM

Ideally, you’ll be able to integrate social data into your CRM using platform integrations. We’ll get into the details in the Tools section below, but know for now that this doesn’t have to be complicated.

Social CRM is a growing point of focus for companies of all sizes. So, many existing CRM systems already allow for easy integration with social tools.

Social CRM challenges you should be aware of

There can be some bumps along the road when setting up social CRM. That may be why only 10% of marketers surveyed for the Hootsuite Social Transformation Report said they had effectively connected social data with an enterprise CRM.

Here are some potential snags to be aware of.

Change can be uncomfortable

Changing the nature of your company’s approach to CRM may be challenging for the sales and customer service teams. They may have to learn how to use new tools, or simply reevaluate how they’ve always done things.

Make sure to help them understand the ways in which they’ll benefit from social media CRM, so they’re motivated to embrace the change. For customer service, the prime benefit is a fuller customer history, while for sales it’s more and better leads.

You might not see results overnight

Depending on the size of your social following, you might not get a ton of social data right off the bat. In that case, it can feel a little like you’re spinning your wheels.

Stick with it. As you grow your following, the social data being fed into your CRM will improve. In turn, that better data will help you further grow your social media following. It’s a virtuous circle that may just need a little time to get going.

You might get overwhelmed by data

On the other hand, maybe you have a large social following, or there are already many conversations about your brand on social. In this case, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of new potential data to include in your CRM.

You’ll need to make some decisions about what kinds of interactions and data to add to the CRM. For example, maybe you’ll include interactions that involve a direct question or comment but not those that mention your brand in passing.

5 social CRM tools


Hootsuite performs a couple of valuable social CRM functions. It allows you to set up a social listening program and consolidate social messages from multiple platforms in a single inbox.

From the inbox, you can assign social messages to the appropriate team members in the relevant department. They will be able to see the entire social conversation history, providing full context.

Hootsuite also integrates with top CRM platforms like:


Sparkcentral is a social customer care tool that collects messages from different channels (social media and others) and distributes them to dedicated teams or support agents.

It allows customers to access service through social messaging apps (including WhatsApp), SMS, and live chat on your website or app.

Sparkcentral also integrates with Zendesk, Salesforce, and Microsoft Dynamics 365, making it possible to sync all customer contacts.

Sparkcentral active channels

Source: Sparkcentral by Hootsuite


The Salesforce integration for Hootsuite allows you to attribute social interactions to leads, contacts, accounts, and cases. All teams get a fuller picture.

You can trigger Salesforce workflows based on social interactions. You’ll also be able to create targeted marketing lists based on social data.

Salesforce workflows

Source: Hootsuite Apps

Psstt: If you already use Salesforce Social Studio and are looking for a replacement, we can help!


The Zendesk integration for Hootsuite lets you view, update, and comment on Zendesk tickets within Hootsuite. You can also import social data into Zendesk tickets.

Customer service agents can reply to customers through the original point of contact, all while tracking the full social thread.

Zendesk streams

Source: Myndbend

Microsoft Dynamics 365

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 integration with Hootsuite brings social data into your Microsoft CRM. You can create leads and opportunities based on social posts and conversations. And you can use case management to resolve customer issues.

You’ll be able to see your CRM information within Hootsuite and connect social activities and conversations with leads and contacts.

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Source: Hootsuite

4 tips for using social media CRM as a business strategy

1. Use social CRM to understand the true value of a lead and a customer

Having a complete picture of how social interactions convert to sales allows you to truly understand the value of a social lead over the long term. This will help you plan your social media budget, especially the amount you plan to spend on social ads.

2. Use social data for effective customer service

More than three-quarters (76%) of customers say they expect consistent interactions from all departments. But more than half (54%) say teams don’t seem to share information: They get different responses from sales, service, and marketing.

This can be very frustrating for customers:

Social CRM provides the complete picture of customers’ relationships with your company, including social connections. Build your social media CRM strategy around this extra data and how it helps you better interact with real people.

3. Better qualify leads with social data

Social leads can help fill your sales funnel. Even better, incorporating social interactions into lead and customer profiles can help qualify leads faster and more accurately.

Make sure you have appropriate offers and campaigns in place to nurture leads discovered through social media platforms. Consider an opt-in newsletter or a drip campaign and dedicated deals available exclusively to social leads. This will help establish your credibility while building the relationship as you work up to the sale.

4. Use CRM data to create custom audiences for social ads

CRM helps you understand who your customers are. Social CRM lets you translate that data into highly targeted new lookalike audiences for social ads based on characteristics like age, location, social behaviors, and so on.

A lookalike audience based on people who have actually bought from you is more likely to create conversions than a lookalike audience based on fans or followers.

Save time building an efficient social CRM with Sparkcentral by Hootsuite. Quickly respond to questions and complaints across a variety of channels, create tickets, and work with chatbots all from one dashboard. Try it free today.

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