In my post The Multimedia Social Thread or the Social Media Multithread I talked about how cool it would be if we were able to trace threads across all channels; like SMS, Email, Twitter, Instant Messaging, etc. I believe in one of my posts I referred to this as the Social CRM protocol. Essentially, a way to tie every touch point together into a thread – even blog comments. The ability for each of us to track our relationship with another individual through a thread is an extremely interesting idea to me and one I would like to see implemented.
So today, to mixed emotions, I watched as Facebook announced what everyone thought was just going to a Gmail killer; a new email platform. In fact, what really happened is they announced step one in the implementation of the Social CRM protocol – the friends & family addition. I wasn’t able to pay attention to the whole thing, so I’m sure I missed a bunch. But what I clearly heard was that it didn’t matter if it came from an SMS, IM, Email or whatever; they were planning to provide you a thread of your entire conversation with someone over time. The only channels they didn’t mention were Skype, Linked, blog comments, phone calls or golf outings.
Which leads my wandering mind to all kinds of crazy thoughts. If they can do this well, and I’m pretty confident that they can, doesn’t all this end user adoption pave the way for Facebook to begin looking at ways to really enter the corporate environment? All they need is a few more pieces to control the protocol, and the ability to do a few more things like schedule future activities and complete them as part of a thread, and all of a sudden you have the beginnings of a not-too-shabby CRM platform. Just think of the sales intelligence and marketing opportunities that could evolve over time!
Now all of those social media consultants who charged people to advise them on Facebook Fan Pages as a Social CRM strategy won’t look so foolish – except they really will . That’s because CRM isn’t just about marketing, which is where nearly all of them hail from. It’s about way more than that, and it’s about complete and round-trip relationships. It’s also about relationships over time because things change.
Facebook is only building a single thread per Contact type of infrastructure at the moment, but it was mentioned that thread by topic might or would be coming. But think about this for a minute. Can you tell at which point a relationship changed? In a personal environment it’s a bit easier because it’s more intimate. In a business environment there are more people involved, making it much harder.
The social thread will need to develop well beyond what was unveiled today. But, if Facebook has any deep dark desire to get beyond just activity streams and expand into areas that can have an impact in the enterprise, maybe, just maybe, I’ll have to eat crow and admit they could become a powerful CRM platform in the future. They’ve certainly got the capital to do just about anything they want – whether it’s measured in dollars or registered users. I’m going to have to watch these guys more closely now.