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CRM expert Paul Greenberg does not mince words: social media is not a “trend.” It’s a matter of everyday life, a business fact. “In fact, ignore anyone who calls it a ‘trend,’” he laughs.

A few years ago, it was nearly impossible to do anything in business without encountering “social media.” From the “social media guru” who wanted hundreds of thousands of dollars to tell you how to post on Facebook to companies with virtual offices in Second Life, social was the hot thing—and everyone wanted in.

What was the big deal about social media anyway? “It was not a business revolution. It was a communications revolution,” says Greenberg, the author and CRM expert behind the seminal book CRM at the Speed of Light. Social media, Greenberg says, is one aspect of an enormous shift to a digitally based culture. “It’s transforming how people work, operate, and live day to day,” he says.

It’s not about the social
Social media itself isn’t necessarily that spectacular, Greenberg notes. “It’s just another set of channels.” What is fundamentally different in the way it enables human interaction. “It’s given us an ability to communicate to audiences of thousands in ways we’ve never been able to, and it enforces what customers expect of businesses and institutions.”

And most important, Greenberg observes, “If customers don't get what they want, they have the means to let millions of people know about it.”

Omnichannel marketing
The rise of the digitally savvy consumer, who has access to and mastery of social channels, requires businesses to change how they interact with their customers. Greenberg calls this “omnichannel marketing,” a shift away from multichannel marketing.

“Be where your customers are, and make sure the experience is the same on all of those channels,” he says. Greenberg cites a 2014 Gallup survey that rated customer engagements: of the top 20% of brands for customer retention, every single one had 7 or more possible channels for customers to engage with the brand.

A business that cannot meet this customer on his or her own terms will inevitably fall behind. “This isn’t going away. Customers expect certain experiences,” Greenberg says. To them, he notes, it’s all the same—and if they don’t get the experience they want, they’ll let people know.

The key for businesses is to know how to use social channels as one aspect of a digitally-powered omnichannel communications strategy—and to recognize the power of a CRM solution that helps you manage data and communications across all these channels.

For more information about how the rise of the digital customer, how to effectively use social media, and the importance of CRM solutions in meeting these new business challenges, watch Paul Greenberg’s webinar CRM Changes … Again.

Watch Paul's webinar now