CoTweet Pulls Social Media Conversations Into CRM Systems

Integrating social media conversations with other customer contacts can be tricky, requiring cumbersome integration with a company’s CRM application. When ExactTarget was building a custom extension to integrate its CoTweet app with Microsoft CRM, it turned out to be unusually flexible, allowing integration with legacy systems to be done very rapidly.

CoTweet, a social media management application that ExactTarget developed when it realized that email marketing recipients often continue a conversation about a brand in social marketing venues, now has stronger integration for CRM legacy systems.

The company recently unveiled new extensions that allow users to integrate conversations that originate in social media with such CRM platforms as Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Dynamics CRM 2011 and (NYSE: CRM). Now it is making available an extensions module that can work with just about any legacy CRM system, Jesse Engle, general manager of the ExactTarget Social Media Lab, told CRM Buyer.

CRM-Agnostic Extension

The company developed it when it was building the Microsoft CRM extension application, Engle said, but it turned out to be unusually flexible.

“What it does is allow for these integrations to be done very rapidly. A lot of our customers have legacy CRM systems that may be out of date or operating on old releases,” he noted, “and these require custom integration to serve up the necessary data.”

By data, Engle means any conversations that originate on Facebook or Twitter. The CoTweet application converts these into leads or cases within the CRM system, giving the firm a wider view of customer interactions.

Rapid Push Into Social Media

The application was designed with larger companies or brands in mind — firms that were rapidly extending their customer service into social media but weren’t able to adequately capture or keep track of these conversations, Engle said.

CoTweet supports out-bound marketing-related messages and in-bound customer support requests.

ExactTarget began developing this app when Twitter had only a couple of million users.

“We discovered the need for it ourselves,” recalled Engle, “when we set up a social media account for a client and realized we had no good way of managing the messages across these various channels.”

Everything in One Place

The early iterations focused, not surprisingly, on the fundamentals — capturing a conversation in, say, Twitter and then importing it to the customer record. Later, the application grew in scope as the company added more-sophisticated features such as added enterprise controls over the social media engagement and the integration ties for CRM legacy apps.

Now the app can define work groups and their roles in the marketing process, as well as across different accounts and platforms, for example. A good illustration is provided by Citigroup (NYSE: C), which has a number of social media accounts, Engle pointed out.

“Through CoTweet, everyone has visibility into the various messages,” he explained. “Citigroup can assign messages to other people on the team for follow-up.”

With the CRM integration, a company can store all of the conversation history with a customer record, he said, which can then be accessed by a rep in real-time during a customer call.