Building Online Reputations, Clients

Four out of five adults are social online with 21 percent of 286 companies surveyed having established customer community interaction sites, or social customer relationship management as cited in a January 2010 report by Forrester Research entitled “Topic Overview: Social CRM Goes Mainstream.” This presents a huge opportunity to reach out to clients who are active on social sites.

Degnan Design Builders, DeForest, Wis., and Bensonwood Homes, Walpole, N.H. are two businesses that are leveraging various online social tools for this reason. Residential Design + Build magazine spoke with them to understand their online goals.

Degnan Design Builders

Abe Degnan, president, Degnan Design Builders has been blogging for about two years, and using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube for about a year. The goal: “To have another method of getting information to my clients and potential clients,” Degnan says.

Degnan focuses much of his attention on Facebook. “With Facebook, people don’t need to think about clicking onto our website,” he adds. “Whenever we post something on Facebook, they will see it.”

Facebook also helps Degnan expand his network by friends of friends who are interested in his company. “Twenty-five percent of our fans are people who are not my personal Facebook friends,” Degnan says. In addition, friends of Degnan’s Facebook fans will see when someone “likes” something on Degnan’s Facebook page. To “like” something on Facebook is to become a fan of that page.

Facebook Tip: Create a unique URL for a business Facebook page to allow for easier access to a page. To create a unique URL, visit

Videos also are a large part of Degnan’s marketing plan. “We give video tours of lots we own, or publicize when we get TV coverage,” he says. The videos are then posted on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the company’s website.

Degnan plans to incorporate more YouTube videos and create an actual channel that is customized to represent the Degnan Design Builders brand in a consistent company-wide way.

For Degnan, LinkedIn is used as a more lateral marketing tool rather than external to clients and potential clients. “I try to generate discussion and be interactive within groups.

Twitter Tip:
Use URL shorteners when posting links on Twitter to take up fewer characters and provide link analytics. Try these:

I want to demonstrate my expertise within the groups,” Degnan says. LinkedIn members can join topic- or company-based “groups” to communicate with colleagues with similar interests. “I hope that by being active in them, my name is recognized and so is my expertise. There are good influencers on LinkedIn.”

Bensonwood Homes

Rick Reynolds, marketing steward, Bensonwood Homes, says the company uses its website, blog, e-blasts, Facebook and Twitter to reach out to its community. “We’ve been fortunate to have a large enthusiastic following since the early 1970s. It’s only natural to tap into that large family, and social media gave us the wherewithal to do that,” Reynolds says.

Social media also allows Bensonwood the opportunity to observe consumer communication, Reynolds adds. “We often use Twitter to distribute new events, but we also follow the tweet stream,” he says. “We like to see what people are saying, learn from it, and comment on it. It’s much more than news — it’s being a part of the conversation.”

These conversations via Twitter also present sales opportunities. “Ultimately, I’d like our sales force to have access to all the social media and drill down to client prospects — to better understand their prospects,” Reynolds says.
Bensonwood makes sure its community knows when it has received media coverage. Recently, the company was covered in a USA Today article. Bensonwood sent an e-blast about the coverage, linked to it on its website, tweeted about it and put it on Facebook. “We’ve been fortunate to be in the news lately. Oftentimes, our e-blasts parallel news events,” Reynolds says.

For Reynolds, there is more to social media than marketing Bensonwood. “At the end of the day, all social media CRM is about conversation, relationships and connecting with our larger family,” he says.

Social CRM Objectives and Capabilities
Business function Social CRM objective CRM 2.0 capabilities
Market research Listening Ongoing monitoring of your customers’ conversations with each other, instead of occasional surveys and focus groups
Marketing Talking Participating in and stimulating two-way conversations customers have with each other, not just outbound communications to customers
Sales Energizing Making it possible for enthusiastic customers to help sell or make introductions to each other
Support Supporting Enabling your customers to support each other
Product/service development Embracing Helping customers work with each other to come up with ideas to improve products and services

Source: Adapted from Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, Harvard Business Press, 2008

© 2010, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. Forrester®, Technographics®, Forrester Wave, RoleView, TechRadar, and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies. For additional information, go to

Proud of your business practices?
Enter RD+B’s 2011 Business Excellence Awards: