What is social CRM software?

Social CRM, or Social Customer Relationship Management, is an evolution of traditional CRM that integrates social media platforms to foster interactions and engagements and build relationships with customers. Unlike conventional CRMs, which primarily focus on data management and transactions, Social CRM emphasizes listening to customer conversations, understanding their sentiments, and responding in real-time. It harnesses the power of social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to gather insights, address customer queries, and enhance the overall customer experience. By blending social interactions with CRM processes, businesses can gain a holistic view of their customers, allowing for more personalized marketing strategies and improved customer service.

Social CRM as a strategy doesn’t just involve being present on social networks; it’s a complete fusion of sales, marketing, and service with the rich, unstructured conversation—and data—that lives in the comments, statuses, shares, tweets, and likes of over 4.9 billion social media users.

In order to help you choose the right social CRM software for your business, we reviewed the 25 top software solutions and narrowed it down to the best of the best:

Aug. 7, 2023: We reviewed our recommendations and refined each vendor’s pros and cons lists to preserve our editorial objectivity. We also simplified the page layout for easier navigation and implemented additional opportunities to connect directly with the software vendors we recommend.

At TechnologyAdvice, we assess a wide range of factors before selecting our top choices for a given category. To make our selections, we rely on our extensive research, product information, vendor websites, competitor research, and first-hand experience. We then consider what makes a solution best for customer-specific needs. 

By defining business needs, we can determine the essential features organizations in various sectors require, and select platforms that will cover all bases. Reputable providers known for their ease of use and customer satisfaction are added to our compilation list for further analysis. We then evaluate each solution on the list based on the features they offer, considering the platform’s usability, integration capabilities, customization options, mobile access, and any other relevant functionalities. Price plans, hidden fees, customer reviews, and customer support are also assessed in the selection process. 

Technology Advice writers will often take advantage of free trials and demos to get a first-hand user experience of available software. Finally, we curate a comprehensive list based on the previously stated factors, ensuring readers have the necessary tools to make an informed decision.

Our picks for the best social CRM software

Zoho CRM: Best overall social CRM


Pros

  • Seamless integration with major social media platforms
  • Social listening tools monitor mentions and interactions
  • Dedicated Social tab
  • Profile enrichment tool
  • Competitive pricing model, including a free version

Cons

  • AI features only available in top tier plan
  • Limited available custom fields
  • Limited users and views available on free plan

Social Listening: Monitors social media chatter to help businesses understand and address customer needs.

Integration with Multiple Social Media Platforms: Seamlessly integrates with major social platforms, enhancing brand presence and engagement.

Lead Generation: Captures and funnels social media prospects, enabling sales teams to convert them into clients.

Unified Omnichannel Experience: Centralizes interactions across channels, ensuring consistent and timely customer engagement.

Instantaneous Feedback: Facilitates real-time customer feedback on social media, driving product and service improvements.

Social CRM Challenges Addressed: Offers tools to navigate the complexities of the social landscape, from data management to evolving trends.

  • Free trial available
  • Free plan available
  • Standard: $14 user/month, billed annually 
  • Professional: $23 user/month billed annually 
  • Enterprise: $40 user/month billed annually 
  • Ultimate: $40 user/month billed annually

We presented the “Best Overall” crown to Zoho because of its comprehensive integration with major social platforms, enabling businesses to monitor, engage, and convert leads seamlessly. 

Its social listening feature provides real-time insights into customer needs, while its centralized omnichannel experience ensures consistent customer interactions. The platform’s ability to capture instantaneous feedback allows for agile product and service improvements. Zoho CRM’s tools also address the intricate challenges of the social landscape, making it a holistic solution for businesses aiming to optimize their social media presence and interactions. Its blend of features and affordability positions it as a top choice.

Originating as a part of Zoho Corporation’s suite of online productivity tools and SaaS applications, Zoho CRM has evolved to offer a comprehensive blend of sales, marketing, and customer support functionalities. As a social CRM, it integrates with major social media platforms, enabling businesses to monitor brand mentions, engage with audiences, and convert social interactions into actionable leads. Recent enhancements include Zia, an AI assistant that offers predictive sales insights and voice interactions, and advanced omnichannel capabilities.

Nimble: Best for manual social media prospecting


Pros

  • Unified contact management
  • Seamless social media integration
  • Email tracking
  • Effective customer interactions via real-time relationship tracking
  • Reliable storage solution

Cons

  • Limited native integrations
  • Glitches and freezing during crucial tasks reported

Today Page Dashboard: Provides a quick overview of sales pipelines, appointments, tasks, and sales signals.

Unified Inbox for Messages: Consolidates email conversations in a unified inbox, streamlining communication and engagement with customers.

Workflow Templates: Kanban boards/lists visually track the progress of leads and contacts, centralizing important processes.

Group Email Tracking & Reporting: Facilitates trackable email outreach to targeted lists, enhancing relationship-building with potential and existing customers.

Nimble Prospector App: A browser extension that allows users to access Nimble’s features and insights on the web, ensuring seamless CRM integration.

Third-party Integrations and API: Offers versatile integrations with third-party apps and a robust API for tailored connections.

Nimble makes the list largely due to its intuitive “Today Page” dashboard, which centralizes sales insights, tasks, and appointments. The unified inbox consolidates communications, ensuring seamless engagement with prospects. Its unique Prospector App allows users to gather insights directly from the web, making prospecting efficient.

These features, combined with trackable email outreach capabilities, make Nimble an indispensable tool for businesses that aim to prospect and nurture relationships on social media manually.

Nimble CRM, founded in 2009, has become known for its unified inbox, intuitive dashboard, and seamless social media integration. The latest features include the Nimble Prospector App, allowing users to access CRM insights on the web, and enhanced third-party integrations.

Pipedrive: Best for lead management


Pros

  • Inter-departmental communication
  • Excellent lead management capabilities
  • User-friendly interface
  • Highly customizable

Cons

  • Limited bulk emailing
  • More advanced features missing or only available at higher tiers

Unified Dashboard: Centralized view of all social media interactions and other communication channels.

Social Media Data Integration: Automatically pulls and updates data from social media platforms to populate customer profiles.

Real-time Tracking: Monitors social interactions in a manner similar to tracking phone calls or emails in traditional CRMs.

Social Listening: Monitors social media platforms for specific keywords or phrases to identify potential leads or customer sentiments.

Centralized Reporting: Provides metrics and analytics related to social media interactions, helping in understanding campaign effectiveness.

Integration with Other Platforms: Allows seamless integration with other social media tools and platforms for a more comprehensive view of customer interactions.

  • Essential: $14/user/month 
  • Advanced: $29/user/month 
  • Professional: $49/user/month 
  • Power: $64/user/month 
  • Enterprise: $99/user/month

Pipedrive excels as a social CRM for lead management with its unified dashboard that centralizes social interactions and automates data entry from social media. Its visual sales pipeline allows intuitive lead tracking, while social listening identifies potential leads. Integration capabilities ensure a seamless lead management process across various platforms. Customizable workflows provide adaptability to specific business needs.

Pipedrive is a customizable CRM solution designed primarily for small businesses. It’s considered one of the best platforms for managing sales leads, guiding them through the sales process, recording key contacts, and providing feedback.

Salesforce Sales Cloud: Best for enterprises


Pros

  • Flexibility for customization
  • Declarative configuration (No coding required)
  • Regular enhancements to platform

Cons

  • Lacks updated information in Help articles

Social Listening: Monitor mentions and conversations about their brand across various social media platforms.

Social Engagement: Directly engage with customers and leads on social media platforms from within the Salesforce interface.

Social Analytics: Provides insights into social media performance, helping businesses understand customer sentiment and trends.

Lead Generation: Automatically generate leads from social media interactions and mentions.

Unified Customer View: Integrates social media profiles and interactions with the CRM.

Social Media Automation: Automates social media tasks such as posting, responding, and tracking, streamlining the social CRM process.

  • Starter: $25/user/month 
    • Designed as a simple CRM suite with marketing, sales, and service for small teams.
    • Features include simplified setup & onboarding, email integration, and basic lead, account, contact, and opportunity management.
  • Professional: $75/user/month
    • Positioned as the CRM for sales.
    • Offers customizable reports & dashboards, forecast management, and quoting & contracting.
  • Enterprise: $150/user/month
    • The CRM for sales with added analytics and API.
    • Includes pipeline management, advanced permissions, and workflow and approvals.
  • Unlimited: $300/user/month 
    • The CRM for sales with automation, AI, and development support built-in.
    • Provides all capabilities, premier success plan, and full and developer sandboxes.

Salesforce Sales Cloud is a top choice for enterprises due to its scalability, customization, and integration capabilities. Its cloud-based nature ensures real-time collaboration without hardware investments. Advanced analytics, powered by Salesforce Einstein, provide AI-driven insights. The platform’s mobile features enable on-the-go access, while security measures ensure data protection. With continuous updates, global reach, and a strong reputation, Salesforce remains a trusted solution for businesses aiming to enhance sales processes and customer relations.

Designed for businesses to manage customer relationships, sales, and support, it’s known for scalability and customization. Over the years, it has continuously evolved, introducing innovative features. Recent enhancements include AI-driven analytics via Salesforce Einstein, deeper integration capabilities, and advanced mobile functionalities. 

ALSO READ: 5 Salesforce Alternatives

HubSpot CRM: Best for inbound marketing


Pros

  • User-friendly interface
  • Free tier available
  • Marketing automation
  • Detailed analytics

Cons

  • Limitations in free version

Visual Dashboard & Reporting: Provides a real-time view of the entire sales pipeline with a visual dashboard. Users can access detailed reports on sales activity, productivity, and individual performance.

Deal Pipeline: Offers a visual representation of deals as they move through various stages, allowing for efficient pipeline management.

Company Insights: Offers insights into companies, helping sales teams understand their prospects better.

Email Tracking & Notifications: Users receive real-time notifications when a prospect opens an email, enabling timely follow-ups.

Meeting Scheduler & Live Chat: Includes tools for scheduling meetings and engaging with prospects through live chat, streamlining communication.

Customization & Integration: Can be tailored to fit specific business needs and integrates seamlessly with other HubSpot products and third-party apps.

  • Free plan available
  • Paid plan starts at $45/user/month

HubSpot takes a holistic approach to customer engagement. It seamlessly integrates content creation, social media, email marketing, and analytics, ensuring a unified strategy to attract and nurture leads. As a social CRM, HubSpot excels in monitoring and engaging with customers across various social platforms, providing real-time insights and fostering genuine relationships. Its intuitive interface, combined with robust automation capabilities, makes it a top choice for businesses aiming to harness the power of inbound marketing and social interactions, all within a single platform.

HubSpot CRM, launched by HubSpot Inc. in 2006, revolutionized inbound marketing by offering an integrated platform for content creation, social media, email marketing, and analytics. Born from the vision of co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, the company aimed to shift the marketing focus from interruption to attraction. Today, HubSpot CRM is renowned for its user-friendly interface, providing businesses with real-time insights into their sales pipeline and customer interactions. Recent enhancements include AI-driven analytics, advanced automation tools, and expanded social CRM capabilities. This continuous innovation cements HubSpot’s reputation as a leading CRM solution for businesses globally.

Find your new social CRM software

Social vs. traditional CRM

Social CRM combines the capabilities of social media management with traditional customer relationship management (CRM) software to help brands engage their customers across social media.

These technologies started as web-based clipping services for public relations departments, but these primitive techniques quickly proved an inadequate match for the velocity of modern social communication. This evident need led to the startup of standalone social analytics tools. The rapid fusion of social media data and business processes triggered a flurry of social acquisitions by major CRM vendors like Salesforce and Oracle in 2012 and 2013. As a result of these big names moving into the social CRM sphere, even smaller and niche vendors have adopted the tools.

Although vendors and thought leaders have made great strides in defining and standardizing social CRM software, there is still a lot of confusion about available products and features. This guide will help you better understand the capabilities of social CRM, how it can benefit your company, and how to choose the best social CRM solution.

Best social CRM products and features

There are a few different ways to package social CRM software.

Some full-featured CRM platforms have built-in social functions and data, such as Nimble’s “intelligent relationship platform.” In other cases, a business can piece together a solution by selecting a standalone social management tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social that integrates with their existing CRM.

The best solution for your business will likely be the one that provides the most seamless integration between social media activities and your team’s existing customer relationship systems.

Common features of social CRM software

As with any software, features will vary from vendor to vendor, ranging from simple social profile access to sophisticated analytics and social media monitoring capabilities. Here are some of the most common features, some or all of which you may find in a social CRM solution:

Enhanced customer profiles

Agents can use data from social media accounts—demographics, job titles, locations, interests, and communication histories — to build a more comprehensive understanding of customers. A 360-degree view of each customer’s needs and interests can enable more targeted marketing efforts, better product suggestions, and less redundant issue resolution.

Social listening

Identify brand mentions and customer trends by monitoring comments, posts, hashtags, and trending topics. Listening can be used to figure out

  • What your customers and prospects are interested in
  • What troubles them about your brand
  • When they’re having issues with a product or service
  • Who are your biggest influencers
  • Where to find your next sales opportunity

Sentiment analysis

Social CRMs with sentiment analysis use natural language processing (NLP) to identify emotions and attitudes your customers express on social media. For example, you can receive a notification when a customer complains about poor service, and follow up with them directly before it becomes a trending topic. Sentiment analysis helps companies with a large customer base process and interpret the high volume of unstructured data associated with social media.

Social selling

Pitching directly to social connections isn’t always effective, since not everyone who posts about a product is ready to buy. Social selling tools can help you pinpoint prospects who are closest to making a decision, and discover recurring signals so your efforts aren’t wasted. Some social CRMs can even suggest specific ways to engage a prospect based on their demographics and browsing history.

Social marketing

There are innumerable ways marketers can use social CRMs, from lead generation to content management and marketing analytics. Maybe it’s too early to sell to a social prospect, but you know they’re interested — they just need the right information. That’s a perfect opportunity to connect with a new lead and, for example, get them plugged into your drip marketing program.

What are common uses and strategies for social CRM tools?

Social CRM is most frequently used within sales, marketing, and service departments since these roles require the most direct engagement with customers and prospects. High-level decision-makers can also use social CRM tools to measure larger audience trends and monitor brand reputation.

There are a number of strategies organizations can employ to yield higher return on investment:

Gain better knowledge of customers and prospects

Use the data accrued through social listening and enhanced customer profiles to draw valuable insights about your target audience on an individual and/or collective level. Sales and marketing strategists can use this data to add relevance to the products and content they present.

Create value-added customer engagement

Social CRM isn’t just about following your customers on social networks and getting them to like your company page; it’s about adding value to the relationship in both directions. You can add value by resolving a complaint mentioned in a customer’s post, offering a discount to new followers, or spreading educational and informative content on your feed. The customer adds value to your businesses by pledging their loyalty and (hopefully) spreading the word in their virtual community.

Form new relationships and retain existing ones

Lead generation is one of the most promising aspects of social CRM—the ability to find and connect with new opportunities based on behavioral or linguistic triggers by mentioning a key phrase, or adding an interest tag to their page. These connections increase the volume of leads entering your funnel, which is good for business. But social CRM can also help businesses retain current customers through faster issue resolution and anticipating churn before it happens.

Four out of five customers say they expect a response to a social media complaint within 24 hours. Giving your service reps direct access to issues reported on social media could stop you from losing business to competitors.

Monitor and improve brand reputation

Historically, businesses have designated a single specialist or a select few individuals to monitor social media activity — perhaps a public relations manager or a social media expert. While these individuals still have an important role in the company, the best way to improve your social reputation is by connecting strategy with action.

Social CRM is about gathering information, engaging with the customer, and acting on their needs. Done successfully, this helps your brand gain community advocates, rather than simply advocating for itself.

Creating executive buy-in

If you’re leading the initiative on software procurement, you’ll need to build a compelling business that “sells” social CRM to its future stakeholders in the company. To ensure successful adoption and long-term ROI, it’s important to get leadership on board first. That means they need to agree with the need for a social CRM solution and the value it will add after implementation. Here are some selling points for specific executives to get you started:

CEO

Your CEO’s main function is to maximize the value of the company, but it’s likely they have their hands in several different pots at any given time. CEOs are mostly concerned with big-picture plays, which means they’ll want to know how social CRM can improve the company’s core business model. We’ve already discussed the ways that social CRM feeds into better marketing, sales, and service performance. But you can also show your CEO what competitors are doing on social media, and explain how social CRM can give your company a strong upper hand.

CMO

Your chief marketing officer will undoubtedly be interested in the ways social CRM can help your company better leverage its brand to create trust and advocacy in virtual communities, not to mention the obvious benefits to lead generation and market analytics. According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of adults now use at least one social networking site. If your company doesn’t have an account or doesn’t check it regularly, consumers will discuss, question, and (sometimes) denigrate your brand, and you’ll never even know.

CFO

How can it reduce costs and grow revenue? How soon can we expect to see ROI? What are the upfront and long-term costs of ownership? These are questions your chief financial officer will ask. First of all, social CRM isn’t always an added expense. For example, if you’re moving from an older, on-premise CRM to a cloud-based solution, social CRM may actually reduce expenses by replacing high-maintenance IT infrastructure and expensive system upgrades with a single, monthly subscription cost. Social CRM will cut costs associated with long service calls, hold time, and workflow redundancy by allowing reps to target requests and opportunities before they reach the call center. You can expect to see a revenue increase on several counts:

  • Higher volume of incoming leads through expanded social influence
  • Higher percentage of qualified leads through data-driven social marketing
  • More opportunities to identify point-of-need and offer relevant product

Social CRM: Why it matters

Why should you care about social CRM? Because your customers do. Ninety percent of Americans expect brands to have a social media profile, and 60% of Americans plan on interacting with brands on social media. Your customers want to ask you questions via your social media platforms and expect answers.

Social CRM gives businesses the ability to see what people are talking about in real-time and engage in those conversations — whether positioning yourself as a knowledgeable expert or just a friendly resource. It provides the opportunity to record more granular data based on social media interactions. When you find conversations about your brand with social media monitoring tools, and when you interact with potential customers, you can track that data in your CRM in addition to email and phone conversations.

Social CRM is about putting your customer first on your social media channels and using those platforms as a way to connect one on one with them, not just to push marketing.