Collecting and managing customer data is ubiquitous in our digital-forward world. Customer data enables personalized social feeds and customer-centric marketing by making it easy to find your most engaged audience members.

Yet, data breaches and opaque collection practices have also turned customer data into a minefield. To harness the full potential of the data you collect, it’s imperative to demonstrate to your customers that their personal information is in good hands.

In this article, we’re giving you the tools to master customer data management on social media, so you can open up the door to gaining actionable business insights, improving cross-collaboration and delivering more effective sales and marketing strategies.

What is customer data management?

Customer data management (CDM) is the process of lawfully (and ethically) collecting, storing, organizing and protecting customer information for the purpose of gleaning insights that improve a brand and its offerings.

An orange and yellow graphic that reads: What is customer data management (CDM)? The process of lawfully collecting, storing, organizing and protecting customer information for the purpose of gleaning insights that improve a brand and its offerings.

Social and business intelligence data offers companies a wealth of information about their customers. By taking the raw data and distilling it into important insights, you will learn powerful ways to improve customer satisfaction across the board—from your customer care operations to product development. Bottom line: For long-term growth and success, your brand must always find new ways to improve your customers’ experience and optimize your targeting efforts. And you can’t do that without customer data.

Why customer data is one of your most valuable assets

A orange and blue graphic that reads: Customer data helps you: Nurture relationships with customers, provide a better customer experience, establish trust with your customers, build more effective marketing campaigns and create more opportunities for upselling.

Customer data is the root of business intelligence. The good news is your brand already has a wealth of data at your fingertips, and there’s probably more available you haven’t tapped into yet.

Collecting data and understanding your audience at every stage in the customer journey is key to nurturing relationships. It starts with having up-to-date information about your customers (like valid email addresses, their past experiences with your brand and psychographic data) and determining which channels they’re most likely to use (like social media or text). These insights empower you to create a better experience with your brand, which increases customer loyalty, retention and evangelism.

For example, when a customer contacts you on social media about an issue with their order, having their order history, shipping address and past interactions on file will save your team and the customer time, while making the customer feel like you value their business. But remember: You must use customer data effectively and securely store it for people to trust your brand.

We all have brands we’re loyal to. And when they contact us or we see their posts, we’re more likely to engage and get reeled in by their promotions. Customer data helps your brand narrow-in on your ideal target audience with your marketing and sales tactics. With customer data on-hand, you can build more impactful marketing campaigns and create ample opportunities for upselling and cross-selling.

Customer data plays a pivotal role in making informed business decisions across the organization that foster continued growth for your company.

4 tips for managing and sharing customer data org wide

When it comes to data collection, there are infinite things you can learn about your customers. From basic attributes (like name, email address and demographics) to how they interact with your brand online (engagement, cost per click and conversion metrics). You can track their purchasing behavior (order history, average order value, usage) and source attitudinal data (voice of customer, sentiment and psychographics).

With so much rich customer data available, proper management is key. The data you have is only as good as your ability to use it. Here are four tips for managing and sharing customer data at your organization.

A blue and orange graphic that reads: 4 tips for managing and sharing customer. 1. Gather information with customer consent. 2. Invest in management software. 3. Train your team. 4. Regularly backup and update your data.

1. Gather information with customer consent

It’s non-negotiable to be transparent about your data collection process. If you don’t give your customers full visibility into the data you’re collecting and how you’re using it, you will violate their trust and could face legal consequences, including harsh fines and penalties.

Instead, aspire to be a consumer privacy advocate and make your data collection processes customer-centric. When you gather customer data via surveys, website forms, transaction history, tracking cookies and social media analytics, explicitly tell your customers and prospects what you’re using the data for. Only collect the details you absolutely need and use it for the exact purpose(s) you specified. Also be clear on how long you will keep and use the data.

A screenshot of a webpage that reads: How Google uses cookies. The page explains Google's cookie policy and features a video of a woman describing the process.

2. Invest in management software

Housing your customer data in a spreadsheet is both unsafe and inefficient. Improper storage of any kind opens your company up to the risk of a breach or misuse of data. To up-level your customer data management, invest in software that solidifies your security measures and harnesses/manages your data in one place. Having a single source of truth is crucial.

For example, Salesforce CRM software offers layers of security like multi-factor authentication, regulation compliance, user activity tracking and anonymized data to protect your customers (and your business). Sprout Social’s integration with Salesforce enables users to manage all their social customer care requests directly from Service Cloud, while enriching customer CRM profiles with social data. This is a major win for your data security and customer service efforts.

A screenshot of social data from Sprout integrated in the Salesforce platform, which demonstrates how incoming social messages can be linked to existing contacts and cases.

Request a demo of our integration today.

3. Train your team

Managing customer data is only possible if your whole team is on board. Host regular customer data trainings to empower ethical access and usage. Emphasize why customer data is important, how to use it for different business use cases and ways to share important insights across departments.

We recommend creating specific data collection, usage and sharing policies for your company. Make relevant details of your policy public-facing to provide additional transparency to your customers.

A screenshot of Sprout Social's privacy policy from our website. The policy explains how and why we collect and manage customer data.

4. Regularly backup and update your data

To be a good steward of customer data, make sure your data is always current. Perform frequent updates by recycling unresponsive leads, validating customer information and amalgamating duplicates. Regularly delete data you no longer use or that is past its expiration (like we mentioned in step one).

You should also have a customer data backup plan in the event you accidentally lose valuable data due to tech or human error.

How social media fuels your customer data engine

Social media platforms contain an endless supply of consumer data—you just need to know how to analyze it so you can discover actionable insights. Like identifying who your most engaged followers are. Or figuring out what your target audience is saying about your brand when they don’t tag you.

A person’s interactions with a brand on social—from the first time they like a post to the last time they DM a brand—give businesses so much insight into their customer experience and journey. From social data alone, you can learn:

  • Customer demographic and psychographic information
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Other brands they follow
  • What content they engage with
  • Their feelings toward your brand, products and industry

A screenshot of a Twitter exchange between a Sprout user and the Sprout Social Twitter account. In the message, the user raves about a new product feature, and our team responds with gratitude.

Use these findings to create a more holistic view of your customer by infusing social metrics into your consumer data engine.

How Sprout Social can help make managing (and using) customer data easier

With Sprout’s social media management features, it’s easy to collect, manage, analyze and utilize customer data. Our all-in-one social media management platform unlocks the full potential of social customer data to transform not just your marketing strategy—but every area of your organization.

Customer service features

The Smart Inbox unifies all your social messages into a single stream so you can foster relationships and respond to your audience quickly. It helps you visualize all inbound message volume across profiles, find new conversations happening about your brand and respond from one place.

A screenshot of an example Twitter direct message exchange in the Sprout Social platform. In the exchange between the customer and the company, the customer contact information and past experiences appear in the right side bar.

Contact Profile Views within the inbox provide a window into a user’s social media presence. From this view, you can reply, add custom contact information, notes and even see message history between you and your customer—streamlining all customer care actions. If you’re a Salesforce customer, you will be able to see if the user is already a lead or contact.


Sprout’s Listening tools help brands tap into global social conversation to extract actionable insights, identify industry gaps and improve brand health. Use listening to find and explore actionable audience data like demographics, sentiment, conversation topics, campaign analysis and competitor performance.

A screenshot of a Listening Performance Summary in Sprout's platform. The graphs featured illustrate changes in sentiment trends over time.

Social analytics and dashboards

Sprout’s analytics tools speed up data collection and distribution. Access metrics from owned and paid media like impressions, engagements, audience growth and cost per click. Dashboards—including interactive charts and graphs—reveal trends in customer data, and make it easy to share findings with internal partners and stakeholders.

A screenshot of the Sprout Social Profile Performance Report, which displays impressions, engagements, post link clicks and changes in audience growth.

For example, with Sprout’s Tableau BI Connector, combine the power of social data with your other business channels. The tool enables you to analyze data, create custom metrics and merge different data sources. This seamless and customized view gives you a consolidated source of truth for wider business insights and performance.

A screenshot of a Tableau dashboard populated with Sprout Social data and other marketing data. The dashboard illuminates how social data supports other marketing tactics.

To start collecting, managing and sharing customer data from social media, begin your free 30-day Sprout Social trial today.

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Managing customer data FAQ

Why is managing customer data important?

Managing customer data is vital to protecting both your consumers and your brand. Without effective management strategies in place, your customer data is subject to data breaches that cost you customers’ trust, which can result in business loss and legal damages.

Effectively leveraging customer data enables you to build more effective campaigns and nurture relationships with prospects and current customers. Sharing the data insights across your organization will help you provide a better end-to-end customer experience and create more opportunities for upselling and cross-selling.

What are the key elements of customer data management?

The key elements of proper customer data management include:

  • Collecting data with customer consent. When you gather personal information, explicitly tell your customers and prospects what you’re using their data for. Only collect the details you absolutely need and use it for the exact purpose(s) you specified. Be clear about how long you will keep and use the data.
  • Investing in management software solidifies your security measures and makes it possible to share customer data across business functions.
  • Training your team is essential to empowering ethical customer data access and usage company-wide. Create specific data collection, usage and sharing policies for your company.
  • Backing up and updating your data so it’s always current. Perform frequent updates, and regularly delete data you no longer use or that is past its expiration. Have a plan in place for backing up your data.

What are the types of data management tools?

The types of data management tools include:

  • Customer database management (CDM). This tool stores customer data and information that help companies optimize their marketing, sales and other business efforts.
  • Social media management tool. This platform finds and analyzes consumer data and insights from across different platforms.
  • Product information management. This tool houses and manages product information that enables the selling and marketing of a brand’s products.
  • Admin and financial resources management. This tool helps create budgets, monitors financial health and supports company financial procedures.