CRM + Social = Power. Social media is the latest and greatest tool for customer relationship management, learn how to use it to your advantage.

Believe it or not, there are still naysayers out there who believe that social media and social media marketing are fads. Obviously I disagree. Companies like Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn, and even Reddit, have changed -- forever -- the ways that people communicate with one another and the ways they share all kinds of information, including advertising.

Of course we are still in the early days of this revolution so social media companies will come and go, just like technologies do. But one thing is certain:

The bottom line: businesses can use Facebook and other social media efforts in the context of customer relationship management so that they can nurture relationships over the long haul. CRM + Social = Power. Here are a few ways businesses can leverage it.

1. Make your marketing relevant (and you’ll increase your conversion rate).

One of the reasons you want to learn about your clients and customers is so that you can better target your products and services. This helps you put them into the “correct” channels so they receive more accurate messages and less spam. Ultimately this makes customers and prospective customers more receptive to your outreach.

Let’s say you have a user who fills out a form to sign up for your company newsletter. Perhaps in the form there is a field asking the user if she has small children at home, or is expecting a baby. If she answers yes to either, you have the opportunity to send her coupons for diapers a few months down the road, or send her housecleaning services or information about college savings plans. She appreciates the focus of your efforts -- and that you’re not sending her ads for online dating services!

2. Whenever possible, target your ads.

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I love Facebook ads. I think the way Facebook serves me ads that are totally relevant to my interests is super cool. Let me give you an example.

I’m really into triathlons right now. I participated in a few over the summer -- triathlon relays are great team-building exercises, by the way -- and they were all within about 30 miles of where I live.

Now that I’ve Liked the events I participated in, Facebook “knows” that I am ripe for information about this type of event. So I expect that I might soon be seeing some ads for triathlons, or maybe bike races and marathons, that are a little bit farther away.

In all likelihood these are events that I might not know about, but I’m still interested in. What’s more, it’s unlikely that Facebook will be bombarding me with ads that are not relevant to me.

3. Make your social efforts another collection point.

Your business’ website is no longer the only place to collect data about your customers. In the past, the verbiage went something like: “If you want to download our whitepaper, fill out this form” or “If you want to know about my newsletter, sign up here.” But thanks to Facebook and other social channels, you can make it more fun. You can use apps (more on this later) to create games or contests for users to enter in exchange for a little bit of information.

In the past it was very expensive to create contests and custom apps but thanks to third party apps, these options are within reach of virtually any small business.