The Missing Ingredient: Automation

For about the last 5 years, I have been involved in the word of mouth marketing and social media space. I have seen new technologies grow overnight and become relevant components of the online marketing mix. Names like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn were mostly non-existent 5 years ago. Using the term “blog” in every day conversation would elicit strange looks. The landscape has completely changed in that short amount of time.

Previous to my consultant days, I marketed and sold enterprise software. I have sold everything from enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) programs to accounting and retail systems. These software systems were all about automation. You automate the menial tasks and the critical path processes as much as possible.

As social media shifts from techies to early adopters and the early majority, people begin to ask, “where is the business value?” Honestly, that has been the argument for the last 5 years. Now that it has finally taken hold, people are beginning to see how social media can build relationships and grow businesses.

That being said, there are a lot of people who have the same problem with social media that they do with CRM systems, you actually have to go there and open them up and check them/input information. It takes time and effort to do the little things.

I have seen a new trend in social media where the combination of the automation principles from enterprise software with the ambient awareness of social media are creating integration, making social media simpler and more pervasive.

I first heard the term “ambient awareness” in a New York Times article discussing the rise of Facebook and Twitter. The concept of ambient awareness is the ability to passively monitor what is going on in all your networks until something sparks your interest and you comment on it. Facebook took off once it added the News Feed. Twitter grew solely based on ambient awareness. The beauty of ambient awareness is that through RSS, you can integrate your networks in order to consolidate your monitoring. Twitter can even act as a consolidation tool.

Let me give you a few examples:

I can connect my Twitter account to Facebook so that Twitter updates Facebook’s status field. Everytime I update my status in Facebook, it shows up on the News feed of my entire network. You can also comment on someone’s status in Facebook. Therefore, I have held conversations on both Twitter and Facebook from a single Tweet. That’s automation and integration.

Also, you can connect RSS feeds into Twitter. This means you can have a new blog post, a social tag, or any other form of social media post automatically to Twitter. I have found Twitter to be a very effective tool for blog promotion. Everytime I post a new blog post, I see a spike in traffic from Twitter. It is also great for furthering a cause using social tagging.

However, I have found a tool now that will allow me to use e-mail (which has a much higer adoption rate than any of these other tools) as an ambient awareness vehicle. I have mentioned InfusionSoft in previous posts, but I wanted to talk about why I became a Certified Marketing Automation Coach for InfusionSoft.

I am a technology junkie and I have been looking for technology that could help me deliver what I preached. I stumbled across InfusionSoft (actually they found me) and was impressed with its automation capabilities. Combined with social media, I had finally found a combination that could drive sales and give me the ability to track almost every aspect of my customer interaction. Best of all, it was automated and didn’t require people to have to go in and input all the information.

I can produce some great content (white paper, blog post, eBook) and create a web form from InfusionSoft that will allow someone to enter their information in order to download it. That information is automatically entered into my system and a follow-up sequence set in motion to keep my subscriber posted on what I am doing. Each month, I aggregate all of my social media content into an eNewsletter and push it out to subscribers with links to the social web. Now I can use the great content I produce with social media to build relationships and move people down the sales pipeline.

Whatever the tools, integration and automation are where social media is headed. Even Google’s OpenSocial initiative is all about integration. With the number of social media sites and tools out there, you have to be able to integrate in order to lower the switching costs and maintain your sanity.

How are you using technology to integrate and automate?


9 thoughts on “The Missing Ingredient: Automation

  1. Brian,

    I am quite impressed with your experience with the Infusionsoft CMAC program. I enjoy the examples you point out regarding the simplicity that social media offers you and businesses.

    I’d love to learn more about your social media and Infusionsoft implementations. I believe social media is key to making CRM software relevant to businesses (and consumers).

    All the best,

  2. Hi Brian,

    Great article. I just wrote an article titled: 20 Web 2.0 Tools for word-of-mouth.

    I too, have bene exploring different ways to disseminate my content to new people who will find it interesting… and ways to aggregate my content for familiar people gathered in a single place (like facebook).

    Some of it is automated.

    Much of it still isn’t.

    The exploration continues… but this is a fascinating time to be playing with these tools. The business value they will create 12 months for now is probably totally undiscovered today.

  3. By mashing together social media and automation, you allow those who were raised with your common background but lacking today’s social web to better understand its purpose and how social media is but another way of an old tool. Kudos!

  4. Agree completely, Ari. Integration will drive much higher adoption rates. I already hear comments from too many people that say, “not another social network. I can’t even keep up with the ones I am signed up for”. I think the Facebook status integration is bringing new users to Twitter. I also think that by utilizing e-mail integration, we can drive more users to social media in general.


  5. Heather, thanks for the comment. I think you bring up some great points. You can’t use technology to solve process problems. You have to have your process down first.

    However, I also disagree with several of your points. InfusionSoft, if used correctly, is a great tool for info marketers. If you use the web forms to input information in the system and the follow-up sequences to follow-up with the customer, it can be almost fully automated.

    I would love to talk with you more about InfusionSoft. I am an info marketer and it works great for me. In the mean time, the point of the blog post is to highlight the evolution of social media and automation.

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