There is a bunch of hype surrounding the idea of getting ‘involved’ in conversations as they transpire through the social web.  Many brands are working towards positioning themselves in a way that appeals to the change in direction of their market.  It is believed that understanding the needs of the individuals who are potential consumers of the brands products will strengthen the product direction/market penetration.

I cannot disagree with this idea and think this is one of the primary business drivers of social today.  Companies such as Klout, Sprout, Twitalyzer, and, Trackur rank influence on thought leaders and provide trends on topics brands care about.  They are all very useful tools which provide useful feedback to the brands that are trying to get involved in these conversations.  After all, if you want to join a conversation, what better way to do it than understand who is talking about the topic you care about and use them as a point of entry?

I think this is clearly the early stages of social from a business perspective.  I am trying to understand how social may evolve into becoming a more effective tool for sales and marketing.  It is one thing to raise brand awareness and learn more about your market; it is whole new animal to convert that into new revenue.   And once it becomes a new revenue stream, how do you quantify the effectiveness of the social campaigns?  Will tools evolve to feed lead nurturing tools such as Marketo or Eloqua?  Meaning, will social tools not just listen but will they capture info on potential consumers and feed them into existing marketing machines?  All the info on the individual is freely available through the social web already.  If the appropriate contact information is not available it can most likely be readily found in Jigsaw.  Who knows how this will unfold is the answer for now I guess.  I am just looking at the future from a sales perspective as that is my focus and what I am measured on.  I want to know how social can be used to offer me qualified sales leads.  Might not be realistic, but it might also be part of the promise of SocialCRM.  Many of the tools are already in place, just a few keep components left to be developed which will close the loop.

How many companies come back from industry conferences and dump all the leads they capture from their booth into an automated lead nurturing system (These are products that hook into your CRM system).  The system will score leads and the inside reps will follow up with the highest scores.  If the inside rep gets a fish on the line, he will work with the outside rep to gain a meeting and progress the sale.  For those not on the sales and marketing side of the house, that is what is happening when you swipe your badge at an industry conference.  That is why brands pay so much to have a presence at industry events.  I don’t see why social cannot potentially be a lead generating system similar to that of an industry conference.