Publisher Channel Content by GetApp.com Using social media to market a brand can be tricky, and it only gets more complicated when social CRM enters the picture. Once a social media presence has been established, there’s a good chance that customers will start using it as a way to reach out with their problems, questions, or concerns. Before long, the social media channels that were meant to market and brand your company turn into a platform for social CRM. Is mixing these two social media functions problematic? It depends. A report from Econsultancy says that 30% of top brands have Twitter feeds dedicated solely to customer service. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s right for your SMB. Before deciding whether or not there’s value in creating two streams of communication on one social network, consider a few things: The size of your following The number of followers you have is a good indicator as to whether or not you need to separate your brand and support accounts. If your following is small, you’ll want to optimize your user base by putting all your customers, users, followers, and fans in one place while you establish your brand’s voice. From here, you’ll be able to see and respond quickly to any problems that arise. If, on the other hand, you have hundreds of users tweeting queries every day, getting a separate ‘support’ account is beneficial. Not only can it help you manage those queries, it will benefit other users who will have a designated place to go when they’re experiencing any issues. The product or service you offer If you’re trying to build your brand and are using social media as a professional tool to reach out to others in your industry, keep your social media profiles relevant and use them as a platform to display content that caters to your audience. Look for user interactions like favorites, retweets, shares and comments, and don’t clog your feed–or anyone else’s–with customer service responses. Judge whether or not it’s worth getting a separate account based on the number of requests you get. Alternatively, if you offer a service that’s prone to technical issues or updates, you might want to keep updates on your main account; it’s the first place people look to get updates regarding the status of your service. Other available CRM channels Social media may not be the ideal way to communicate with your customers, but it’s one of the easiest and most common methods for a consumer to get in touch with a company. Even if you do have other channels available, a consumer may resort to the familiarity and instantaneity of social media when available. If you find yourself getting a lot of customer requests or negative feedback on social media, think about creating a separate support account. Depending on the product or service you offer, estimate the number of customer service requests you’ll be getting, and if you don’t have any other channels available, expect your customers to vent their frustrations via social media. One stop shop The truth is that social media marketing and social CRM don’t operate in a vacuum. The moment your CRM moves into the public sphere, your brand is immediately reflected by the interactions you have with your customers. Regardless of whether or not you decide to separate these two channels, remember that your customer interactions could say more about your brand than marketing efforts. Any customer request you get on social media can’t be ignored. If, and when, you decide to create a new channel to separate support and branding, there are tools that can help you manage your multiple social media accounts. ______________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. Would you like to write for us? An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.