Social Media Engagement – Joining The Conversation Without Being Creepy


Social Media Engagement – Joining The Conversation Without Being Creepy image creepydoll 300x225Every day, millions of conversations take place on social media networks referencing brands, products and services. These conversations represent a huge opportunity for organizations to engage with potential (and existing) clients and win their business. If you are looking for red hot sales leads, social media should be your first port of call.

Technology will of course help you identify these potentially lucrative conversations. But what is the best approach to effectively engage with this social media chatter? While these conversations are “public” you should always remember the general population (people who don’t work in marketing) are not always aware of this fact and might be a little “creeped out” by a business suddenly butting into a “private” conversation.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. The best approach will vary depending on the nature of the conversation, the people you are targeting and your organization’s brand personality and available resources. Here are 4 tips for engaging with potential clients via social media without “creeping them out”.

  1. Direct Engagement via Social Media: If a conversation features your brand name using either a hashtag (#) or your Twitter handle (@) or someone has asked a question (perhaps looking for a product recommendation) then you have essentially been invited to join that conversation and you should be prepared to jump right in. How you handle this engagement will depend entirely on the nature and sentiment of the conversation. If it is a question, you will want to provide a clear and concise answer, perhaps directing the prospect to an online resource or customer services agent where they can learn more or even make a purchase. If it is a complaint, you will want to acknowledge that complaint and then attempt to take the conversation offline as quickly as possible (until it is resolved). Remember, a complaint, when resolved, can quickly turn into a sales opportunity or positive customer testimonial. Conversely, if someone is praising your brand, you’ll want to publically thank them. This might also be an opportunity to reward them with a piece of insight or another offer (note: not all rewards need to be monetary).
  2. Engaging Influencers: You might not want to engage directly with individuals online and instead focus on the people who influence their buying habits. These influencers could be bloggers, journalists, authors, celebrities or other highly visible professionals.Understanding who your prospects and clients are influenced by will help you plan and execute more targeted and therefore successful media outreach and advertising programs.
  3. Traditional Sales Outreach – Social media can provide incredibly valuable information to any sales professional by helping them to identify new prospects and steer conversations which will ultimately help them close more deals. This works even when your organization has had no previous relationship with the prospect. For example, an individual making a comment on Twitter or Facebook that is relevant to your business could be cross-referenced on LinkedIn and highlighted as someone with the need and authority to make a purchase from your organization. This research could then be followed up with a telephone call to start the sales process. The client may never know that you initially tracked them down via social media. Essentially you were in the right place at the right time – how very clever of you.
  4. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Perhaps you already have a relationship with a client or prospect. Integrating their social media activity into your CRM software (such as or Sugar CRM) will help your organization better manage your relationships. Understanding sentiment to your brand can help identify opportunities or highlight concerns before they become threats. Knowing what your clients and prospects are talking about via social media can help you tailor more relevant and therefore engaging email and social media marketing campaigns as well as steering conversations with account managers, customer service agents and sales teams, creating new and up-sell opportunities

This post first appeared on the Viralheat blog.

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Time Magazine shows just how creepy smart homes really are


Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 6.15.08 PMOver the holiday weekend, I sat down with Time’s special on “The Smarter Home.”

A few things hit me straight up. It always feels goofier than it should when populist magazines take on emerging tech. Also, we need to stop the rampant deification of Tony Fadell. (“‘At Apple, we changed society,’ Fadell says, somewhat contemplatively. Now he’s trying again.”)

But above everything, I felt creeped out. “The dwellings of the future will make you calmer, safer, richer and healthier,” Time’s cover assured me, soothingly. But taking my head out of the tech press and reading such a broad, consumer level cover-all of the smarter home, I was nagged by the thought that a modern surveillance state isn’t so much being forced on us, as it is sold to us device by device, with the idea that it is for our benefit.

Cast aside any notion of consumer convenience (turn off the part of your brain that looks at shiny things and thinks “hey! cool…”) and think only of what the information that these smart toys gather says about you. All of the companies involved, if contacted, would probably say something noble about protecting your data while offering up a great service. But we know how this plays out. Think Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” maxim versus how it has actually treated your search, maps and email data.

Nest sucks up data on how warm your home is. As Mocana CEO James Isaacs explained to me in early May, a detailed footprint of your comings and goings can be inferred from this information. Nest just bought Dropcam, a company that markets itself as a security tool allowing you to put cameras in your home and view them remotely, but brings with it a raft of disquieting implications about surveillance. Automatic wants you to monitor how far you drive and do things for you like talk to your your house when you’re on your way home from work and turn on lights when you pull into your garage. Tied into the new SmartThings platform, a Jawbone UP band becomes a tool for remotely monitoring someone else’s activity. The SmartThings hubs and sensors themselves put any switch or door in play. Companies like AT&T want to build a digital home that monitors your security and energy use.

Time’s feature whirred over a lot of new technology. Withings Smart Body Analyzer monitors your weight and pulse. Teddy the Guardian is a soft toy for children that spies on their vital signs. Parrot Flower Power looks at the moisture in your home under the guise of helping you grow plants. The Beam Brush checks up on your teeth-brushing technique. The ToTo Washlet is a smart toilet. The Droplet Sprinkler helps you save water. The Ravenwindow looks at how much light is coming into your home. The Water Pebble goes in the shower and glows red if you’re taking longer than usual.

Getting connected device makers to pontificate on what is coming next, what is thrown out gets more personal and if you hold up the same line of suspicion to it all, significantly more horrifying: a micro-wearable that analyzes diet through sweat, a wearable thermostat that analyzes why you’re hot or cold.

Today, where we live, work and shop, who we know and communicate with and what we watch is already in play. With the smart home and its inevitable link into whatever wearable technology eventually becomes popular, we’ll be giving over data on what time we get home, what the climate is inside and outside our home, our diet, weight and hygiene habits, where we are in the house at any given moment, the actual time we go to bed, what lights we like to have turned on and what resources we consume.

At the birth of email and search not a lot of people would have foretold something like the Snowden revelations, with Verizon, Google and Yahoo handing over information about American citizens by the bucket full. Could you look me square in the eye and swear that you really believe that the data gathered in this new realm of quantified living is going to be properly protected and respected? As I’ve reported, Edward Snowden’s old employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, is already working with the government on technology to track health through wearable devices.

I can’t credit Time for earth shattering insight. But inadvertently, it pulled off something that I hadn’t seen done well before: it put the pieces of the smart home story together in such a complete and excitable way

Calmer, safer, richer and healthier? Try, quantified, coddled, surveilled, and monetized.