This guest post is written by Jon Ferrara, the founder of GoldMine Software and Nimble CRM.  

Social networking has matured into a form of communication that should be tightly integrated with all aspects of the customer relationship life cycle. Engaging with a brand’s community on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ is no longer a responsibility that resides solely with your marketing and public relations manager. It extends to your sales force, customer support center and even the executive team.

It’s no secret that working as a team can multiply your opportunities to engage with your customers and grow your business. In order to effectively manage all of the different messages, tasks and incoming social notifications that come with this type of advanced social engagement, your small business need a single piece of software that ties them all together.

A social CRM will provide your company with the resources it needs to manage these incoming streams while simultaneously developing strong relationships with your customers.

Here are just some of the awesome benefits of using a social CRM:

1. Receive unified social notifications

On Twitter and LinkedIn it’s easy to miss your new messages, notifications, likes and requests. Facebook is better about highlighting incoming communications, but it’s still another social-media channel you must monitor. With a social CRM, you should be able to see a stream of all your new notifications in one place, so you can read and respond immediately to exciting engagement opportunities!

Unified Social Notifications stream inside Nimble, a social CRM

2. View real-time updates in customer contact records

At the heart of social CRM will be the contact record – the embodiment of your relationship with a customer. The contact record in your social CRM should include all related messages, activities and deals in addition to the contact’s live social stream!

3. Share important customer messages

Working with a team can multiply your ability to engage with your customers and grow your business. But you may not want to share everything with your teammates. With a social CRM, you should be able to decide which of your connected email and social media messages are shared with team members and which are private.

4.  Auto-discover customer engagement opportunities

At the start of each day, it’s hard to know where to begin strengthening your relationships. When evaluating a social CRM, look for one that sends you a daily email full of new engagement opportunities. These opportunities to engage may come in the form of job changes within your social network, important upcoming meetings or even birthday notifications. Each notification presents a unique opportunity for you to reach out to your social network and reconnect.

Example of a daily social engagement email from Nimble, a social CRM

5.  Integrate your marketing software with your contact records

While your social CRM will sit at the center of your customer relationship cycle, there are other products that can make it even better. A two-way sync between your social CRM and sales, marketing and customer service software tunes you into all kinds of new customer engagement opportunities – and increases the depth of your contact records.You know your small business should nurture its community on social networks. To turn your current social communication strategy into an outrageously productive one, look into adding a social CRM to your toolkit!

This week’s guest post was written by Jon Ferrara, the founder of GoldMine Software and Nimble CRM. Jon is considered one of the early pioneers of the SFA and CRM software industries. You can tweet to him @jon_ferrara