October 19th, 2012 by Judith Aquino

When social sales and marketing platform Hearsay Social came on the scene in 2009, the notion of allowing your employees to use social media at work was considered risky. Three years later, companies have generally moved on to making sure their employees have the right tools and strategy to develop a relationship with customers. This change is reflected in Hearsay Social’s growth.

The company just announced a 400 percent growth in its customer base in addition to acquiring new customers from the insurance, financial services, real estate, and direct selling industries. I recently caught up with Amy Millard, VP of marketing at Hearsay Social to chat about the company’s developments and social media. Here are highlights of our conversation:

CRM: How’s business? In which areas do you see the most opportunities for growth?
Amy Millard:
Social media has become part of companies’ daily business practices. Everyone from farmers to major companies now have storefronts on Facebook and Twitter. We’re seeing companies getting better at leveraging their relationships with customers online…We’re also expanding internationally and seeing more growth in the financial services and insurance industries [the company’s new customers include AXA Equitable, Primerica, and Shaklee.]

CRM: Where do you see Google+ fitting in with businesses?
When it first came out Google+ was very similar to Facebook. It’s trying to make itself more appealing to businesses and it’s made strides in adding business-friendly features and connecting to search results but Google+ is still searching for a home.

CRM: What are your thoughts on the Do Not Track legislation and concerns about consumer privacy? Millard:It is inevitable that marketers will continue to fight against [these restrictions] but one way to deal with it is to develop authentic relationships with your customers. We believe if you keep the customer in mind and focus on building trust, the data will come. Consumers are often surprised at what marketers can do with technology and we would do well to remember that we need to be more transparent about what we do.

CRM: What criteria do you consider important for measuring engagement?
Counting the number of leads in your database and the number of clicks your campaigns get is one thing, but marketers need to look for more signs of engagement. Any instance where customers interact with you through comments or shared photos are important, including likes, retweets, and shared content.

CRM: Thoughts on the social CRM debate and people who say social CRM is dead?
The problem is the term “social CRM.” Vendors still see social CRM as something that sits on top of the application. We just call it social engagement. It’s about helping companies connect with the customer and it can’t be something that’s treated separately.



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