Since joining the new Social Media team, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to get old-school marketers to start participating in social media. Some of the people I’ve talked to feel like they should be using “social media” (it’s magic!) but are intimidated by it or don’t know where to start.
When I started at HubSpot last July and was originally put on the company’s social media product team (code named Optimus Prime), my solution to this problem was to give the app a better interface. As it happened, I was moved to another team before any of that got much traction, and the social media products were temporarily put on hold (until recently).
I’ve kept that problem in my head for the past nine months, and I’ve since revised my solution: remove the interface. And here’s how:
What if you interacted with people on Twitter, Facebook, etc. via email.
That’s right, email. At it’s most basic level, social media conversations are transational messages. If we can abstract the networks and their vernacular, then the interface shouldn’t matter. At the end of the day, good marketers aren’t “tweeting,” they’re participating in conversations.
Here’s the implementation I have in mind:
This application will have two parts: a web app for configuring your settings and doing more advanced tasks, and the individual email templates. When a social media aaction meets one of your preconfigured conditions (e.g. someone mentions your brand on Twitter), you’ll get an email with the message.
From there, you can compose a response as if you were composing an email. Then hit send when you’re done. And that’s it; you’ve just nurtured a lead on Twitter.
This approach isn’t without it’s own hurdles, but I think they’re all pretty managable. Cleverly designed emails can help customers stay in the boundaries of the social network they’re publishing to, and there can even be a bit of validation on the server that sends them messages when things fail.
Worried about email overload? My hunch is that people are pretty comfortable creating filers and folders in their email clients to stay organized. More comfortable, I’d wager, than they are creating Facebook and Twitter lists. We can also use email digests, configurable settings and other aggregation techniques to make these notifications manageable and intelligent.
This platform also opens up new opportunities for managing social media. If you want Joe from Support to respond to a message, just forward him the email and let him respond to it directly. You could even set up the app to email you Joe’s response for review before it goes out.
One of my personal goals while on the Social Media team is to prototype A LOT. Rethinking is difficult, but this space definitely needs a lot of it. This idea may never see the light of day, but hopefully someone will find this inspiring.