Have you ever searched for a product by involving a social network? Predominantly an open, public one like Twitter, vs. more closed ones like Facebook? While you will probably get responses from your followers and also random people that saw your request, you will also elicit responses from bots trying to point you to commercial offerings (or maybe even scams). Tweet about your need for new car insurance a couple of times and you will see what I mean.
I’m not opposed to automated lead generation – in fact, I have posted and talked before about this technology myself, even using the car insurance scenario. In the end, it’s still the user that makes the buying decision, and hey, it was them that asked the question, so you cannot blame relevant businesses for trying to lure them into to their offerings. In the end, this all falls into the new trend of “Vendor Relationship Management” (VRM, as opposed to CRM): the idea of an intention economy, where people express a need/intent, and businesses start making offers.
The point is, if you want to use public social networks for lead generation, you must do it right, which is: with a human touch. Or: in a semi-automated fashion. Now, what do I mean by that?
At Voxeo, we have a platform which can enable automated communication via phone calls, texting, Web apps, IM, and Twitter. I have recently setup an application that monitors Twitter for leads for our own business, which is predominantly IVR and self-service today. Once someone expresses a need for an IVR or self-service solution or platform, my application sends a text message to someone in the inside sales team. They will see the tweet in that message and now have the option to either ignore it, or to respond on Twitter by texting back to the application (a simple Reply on their phone). They can text a free message which the application will tweet back to the user, or choose from any number of predefined templates. I.e, they can setup auto-responses for different “shortcodes”. E.g., when replying with “hp” (for “homepage”), the application tweets back to the user “@User Sounds like #Voxeo might be able to help you. Check out www.voxeo.com for more info around our products”, using the corporate Voxeo Twitter account. Or, if they send “dm”, the response on Twitter will read “@User #Voxeo offers IVR platforms and solutions in the cloud and on premise. DM us your contact details so that we can get in touch”. Note that my app automatically follows that user, so that they can DM us (a restriction on Twitter – to DM me, I must follow you first).
Through this application, we have already received a couple of valid leads, a few of which we were able to forward to some of our valued partners and customers who happened to have products that exactly met the tweeter’s need (and used Voxeo technology, of course), and others turned out to be a match with our own offerings.
By the way, I am also a proponent of using Twitter and similar services (like simple texting) for fully automated self-service offerings, as described here. But this semi-automated approach for lead generation kills 2, no wait, 3 birds with one stone:
1) By eating our own dog food, i.e. applying our products for our own benefit, we learn and can improve
2) By applying automation, we free our inside sales team from manually farming Twitter for leads
3) By applying automation, we can “extend our business hours” easily by enabling our sales people to deal with sales-related matters with an extremely easy-to-use medium: texting. Hey, that doesn’t even require a smartphone!
Naturally, the same interface can be provided via voice calls, as I have described in a related post here.
The same idea can also be used for other purposes. Check out the following diagram for an application in the service and hospitality field:
Interested? Feedback? Comments? Drop a note below or get in touch with us!
- Do you use Twitter? If so, you can now follow our blog posts…
- Voxeo’s IMified lets companies easily add Twitter for customer service
- Why we use Twitter on our corporate blog site
- Follow Tropo.com activity on Twitter as @tropo
- Visit Status.Voxeo.com or Follow @voxeostatus On Twitter To Learn The Status of The Voxeo Cloud