Book Review: The Social Customer

The Social Customer is one of the best books I’ve read on practical uses and implementations of social media marketing. Given that I’ve read a fair number of them over the last few years, that’s saying something.


The author, Adam Metz, takes the reader through a straightforward, easy-to-read summary of the concept and potential for social CRM, but that’s really only part of this book. While it covers social CRM at length, this is a solid 201-level tome on many aspects of social media, which means this is a useful read for anyone wanting to go beyond the intro level and commit to the social marketing arena.

Structure

The Social Customer is divided into three sections:

  1. Section One takes the reader through an overview of the topic of social CRM.
  2. Section Two walks through 23 use cases of social CRM (based on Altimeter’s 18 social CRM use cases, with a few extras thrown in), dividing them into six groups:
    1. Social Marketing
    2. Social Sales
    3. Social Support
    4. Social Innovation and Product Development
    5. Collaboration
    6. Seamless Customer Experience
  3. Section Three looks at the implementation of social CRM within the organization.

Strengths

While unashamedly enthusiastic about the potential and desirability of social CRM implementations, Metz is honest throughout about his thoughts on the market-readiness of the various use cases that are put forward. You never get the feeling that he’s just preaching for the sake of it, but that there’s a considered opinion behind the assessments.
The book is extremely easy to read. A consistent energy and enthusiasm flow through it, and the personal anecdotes lend a human feel to the book throughout.
Lastly, he book draws frequently from other popular texts including the aforementioned Altimeter paper, Paul Greenberg’s CRM principles and the book Blue Ocean Strategy. In doing so, it creates a really solid overview of the topic that ultimately leaves you wanting more.

Weaknesses

The book isn’t without its issues, however.
The vendor-focused nature of much of the book means that it will be out-of-date before long – especially as it provides a point-in-time assessment of the market readiness of tools and use-case implementations.
The book offers a fairly immature definition of a socially-enabled business which, while fitting the topic of the book, ignores many of the other potential considerations in play.
The middle section of the book – the 23 use case – does drag and becomes repetitive as it progresses. This part of the book, while valuable, is a bit of a slog – you’re best either taking a break before diving into it, or just picking and choosing the chapters based on your own business objectives.
Still, these weaknesses don’t ultimately spoil what, as I mentioned earlier, is one of the best social-focused books I’ve read in a long time – if not the best.
Who should read this: People with a good knowledge of social media who are looking to begin to go more in-depth; people who want to explore the potential of social CRM at a basic level.
People who should avoid this: Anyone looking for an introduction to social media (this will be too advanced); people looking for an in-depth “how-to” on social CRM.
What you’ll learn:
  • Introduction to the concept of social CRM and the social customer
  • High-level introduction to 23 use cases for social CRM and their market readiness
  • Introduction to operational factors, including analytics, work flows, legal and ethical considerations