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SRM - Social Relationship Management

Page history last edited by Axel Schultze 14 years, 5 months ago


I learned a lot from this group and in part the inputs, questions and discussions shaped a development that we are undergoing in the past 9 month.

On November 16 we will introduce the first SRM system. But I feel I owe it to all of you to share the major vision in advance and ask for some initial feedback




We are humans and social by nature. But humans are also tools freaks. We are also pretty good in lifting things, yet we created machines to lift more. Humans can swim, yet we build boats to swim farther and longer. Humans are very smart, yet we designed computer that can remember more and compute faster. With the inception of social media we are recognizing our limitations in keeping up with all our relationships. And so we start to build tools helping to extend yet another power - social relationship building.

The social web is vast, constantly changing and growing. Our natural ability to manage all those changes and dynamics and also our abilities to network with a larger audience is limited. We try to overcome those limitations. In accordance to Dunbar (the dunbar number
) humans have a hard time to maintain more than 150 social relationships. Many have a hard time to keep in touch with more than 20. But our rapidly growing needs in connecting with more and more people forces us to create - again - new tools.


The objective of a Social Relationship Manager tool is to help increase the number of social relationships while maintaining the quality of such a relationship. It is furthermore the objective to help reduce the mechanical work to actually get to a conversation like searching the people, grouping the contacts and so forth. At the same time a Social Relationship Manager needs to be versatile so it can be used in many business scenarios.


Social Relationship Management (SRM) - in a business context SRM, is the activity of building, maintaining, strengthening and broadening personal business relationships with relevant people. Typical goals for SRM is to improve the customer experience, strengthen the ties to a market and develop advocacy in the respective eco system. SRM is typically supported by a system to maximize the number of active relationships without loosing the quality and depth of a relationship needed to maintain a mutually valuable business conversation. SRM changes the typical social media connection behavior from a network focus to a people focus. While social netwoker log in a network and search for people, a SRM system users is focusing on relevant people and then select the network the user wants to engage with the selected person.


As such SRM is a process or system leveraging social networks and communities to increase direct feedback, gain knowledge and influence in and from a market or market segment across all company functions including sales, marketing, support, product management, product development, logistics and other departments.

SRM software maintains a database of connections and their respective networks, keeps a record of conversation initiation, as well as notes and other profile information per connection. It supports and eases the process of connecting and conversing with a large number of network nodes across the diverse social web. Typical SRM objectives may be faster access to relevant people, ability to overcome the physical limits of social connections (see Dunbar number), improved way to collect feedback from relevant connections.


Further details:
SRM system are supposed to support the different departments in their social engagement processes. As such, SRM needs to support product mangers in maintaining and strengthening connections to key customers, influencer in the market, business part, experts and other relevant parties during and after a product requirement definition phase, a product launch and a market expansion phase. SRM also needs to support marketing managers in maintaining and strengthening their connections to key customers, market influencer, media, agencies, service provider, public institutions and other marketing relevant parties. SRM also needs to support service and support teams in maintaining and strengthening relationships to customers, experts, experienced users, analysts and other relevant parties to improve and optimize the support and service activities. Respectively SRM needs to support other departments such as logistics, administration, finance, HR and other functions in their respective engagement to maintain, strengthen and broaden social relationships to effectively create a better customer experience and stronger ties to a market.


Who may benefit from SRM?
Unlike a CRM system that is internally focused on the sales organization or PRM that is focused on partner relationships, ERP that helps internal operations, SRM is an externally facing solution that deals with information (data) outside a company's firewall as well as with the inherited processes outside a company's four walls. As such, the beneficiaries of a SRM system are across all functional aspects: like sales people, channel managers, product managers, service people, support organizations, Human Resource Departments and all other groups facing and touching the respective business ecosystem, community or government organizations.


What will be different with SRM?
While almost all defined business processes are organization related and internally focused (with a few exceptions like parts of a sales process), SRM processes are almost exclusively outside focused. Today, an employee in sales, support, marketing, HR is basically limited to a phone number or email address and manually maintaining all the corelating data. Using a SRM tool, the same employee is focusing on relationship relevant activities, not data collection and administration, is focusing on conversation not scripts to leave a message etc. Unlike today where a social media active person would visit the relevant networks and then go from person to person a SRM tools suggests the right people and supports the socializing process. Best practices and methods help SRM users to stay in touch and use the SRM system to a mutual benefit of the participating parties. One of the core benefits is helping the team to focus on the relevant people not on the interesting places.

Update Nov 16, 2009


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