No doubt, Microsoft is aggressively attempting to be the leader in customer service and sales using Social Engagement!
With the Microsoft purchasing of Parature in early 2014, it was clear that they were aiming to provide Dynamics CRM customers with robust customer service by linking CRM customer support with consumer social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. With the $26Billion purchase of LinkedIn in June 2016 it appears that they now have the other half of the sales equation, Business-to-Business (B2B) is about to be addressed as well.
As consumers, we are now well aware that social media has become an advertising bonanza (for advertisers, at least). While many of us have become (mostly) successful in avoiding commercials on TV, we cannot get around at least the first 10 seconds of a commercial on YouTube. I still find it creepy that practically any web search I do shows up on my Facebook feed even though I should be used to it by now. (I know there are tools to remove the ads, but that is a topic for another day.)
As much as social media advertising has become entrenched in the marketing world, it has been mostly passive in that ads are delivered to the user with the hope of getting a 'click-through' and ultimately, a sale.
But now - advertising is both interactive and automated instead of passive!
A company now can use Microsoft Social Engagement (MSE) and 'listen' to social outlets for product and company name mentions. Once electronically 'heard', the interaction can be automatically routed through Dynamics CRM using the appropriate responses. For example, if someone tweets "The BrandX AC conked out at my beach house again, anyone have any recommendations for a new brand?" Microsoft Social Engagement allows an AC manufacturer, reseller, etc. to auto-respond to that tweet with a link to their product's site as well as create a record and task history in CRM.
Even more than sales, the benefits of using social engagement in the customer support realm are enormous. In the AC tweet example, with Microsoft Dynamics CRM/MSE in place monitoring the term ‘BrandX’, one could auto-respond with a link to their support knowledge base. If the tweet originator cannot find what they need from the knowledge base, then they might have the option to open a support ticket with for further interaction – the goal of which would be to create a happy customer or perhaps sell an additional product or service. Microsoft Social Engagement works in a similar fashion with YouTube and Facebook, as well as syndicated blog posts. To achieve the close integrations needed to interact with the major social media sites, Microsoft maintains the necessary business and technical relationships with the social media sites engaged.
For the most part, Facebook and YouTube social listening could be classified as Business-to-Consumer (B2C) transactions. But what if your business is focused on B2B? Suppose, for example, your business sells specialized equipment to medical facilities? Facebook is not normally the forum for discussions about MRI machines going on the fritz. However, COO’s and purchasing managers of hospitals may very well mention something on LinkedIn. But, until now, Microsoft did not have a Social Engagement agreement with LinkedIn and their social (electronic) ‘listening’ was deaf to LinkedIn users, posts and comments. (Note, as I write this, MSE still does not interact with LinkedIn, but presumably that will change.)
The reasons Microsoft gave for acquiring LinkedIn were, as one would expect, about synergies and mutual growth. However, it seems logical to me that one of the first areas of growth is opening up LinkedIn to Dynamics CRM/Microsoft Social Engagement, which would provide a lot of sales growth for those particular Microsoft products.