Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 8 of my latest book…Increase Online Sales through Viral Social Networking.
One of the common concerns I hear from small business owners or managers about participating in social networking is their perception that the time commitment required will be substantial. If you are like most people, you likely do not have the luxury of being able to invest a significant amount of time toward a new marketing initiative. Consequently, if your viral social networking strategy is not something you can manage in a few minutes a day or less, it will never get done. There are too many other priorities!
The good news is that if you follow my strategy your time investment can be as little as ten minutes a day. And there is even better news. There a several free social networking tools available that can help you develop even more efficiency to further reduce your time investment.
I am a huge fan of NutshellMail because it is easy to use and saves time. When developing my plan for the chapter, I decided to reach out to NutshellMail with the hope of being able to interview someone who could provide a true insider perspective about the features and benefits the tool provides small business owners and managers. The company’s extremely helpful staff connected me with Mark Schmulen, one of NutshellMail’s co-founders. Schmulen became the general manager of social media marketing at Constant Contact following the company’s acquisition of NutshellMail.
One of the main reasons NutshellMail has become so popular is because the tool is easy to use. NutshellMail gives you the ability to manage and coordinate your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn activities much like the other free social networking tools mentioned earlier in this chapter. However, a significant difference between NutshellMail and the other tools is that it is the only one that gives you the ability to manage all of your activity using something you are already familiar with and likely use every day — your e-mail inbox. You simply check your e-mail and manage you social networks. It is that simple!
I enjoyed my call with Schulmen because he took the time to share NutshellMail’s passion for adding value to small business owners. From my perspective, the company really seems to understand the time constraints small business owners are under every day. And I think it is this understanding that motivated them to create a social networking tool that could be used right away with very little time investment from business owners.
Stephen: Why did you make the e-mail inbox the focal point with NutshellMail?
Mark: Our primary goal was to design a social networking tool with the needs of small business owners and managers in mind. The e-mail inbox has become a real hub of communication for many businesspeople, so we thought it would be practical to make the inbox the cornerstone of NutshellMail.
Making things simple was our goal. We believe that asking a businessperson to learn how to use a new software package or destination website would be unrealistic given the constant time constraints, interruptions, and pressures they face. If NutshellMail took too much time to learn or use, our goal of meeting the needs of small business owners and managers would go unmet.
Ultimately, we have given businesspeople a tool that will help them get even more value out of their e-mail inboxes while capitalizing on all of the benefits social networking provides. NutshellMail gives small business owners and busy managers the ability to stay connected with their social networks in significantly less time.
Stephen: How would you summarize what NutshellMail can do for a businessperson?
Mark: Great question. NutshellMail is very similar to a DVR, like many of us have in our homes, that records your television programs and allows you to watch them on your own time. NutshellMail works in a similar way, essentially capturing and recording all of the information and activity from your online brand community. It packages all of your social networking activity into a concise e-mail and delivers it to your Inbox on the schedule that you pre-set.
With NutshellMail, you do not have to spend time monitoring your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn accounts in fear that an important conversation or update will be missed. NutshellMail will capture it all and deliver it to you in one package.
Stephen: You described NutshellMail to me as a time-saving listening tool. What did you mean by that?
Mark: The ability to create a two-way dialogue with customers and prospects is one of the most attractive benefits to using social networking within a business context. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn give us the ability to listen to customers and prospects like never before. NutshellMail extends this a step further by giving you the ability to not only listen but also proactively communicate with customers all from your Inbox. This level of engaged communication creates and builds strong relationships within your brand community…all while saving you time.
Stephen: So NutshellMail has eliminated the need for individual notifications from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn?
Mark: Exactly, because NutshellMail will compile all of these notifications into one simple e-mail and delivers it to your Inbox as often as you like. Some people want to receive NutshellMail updates every hour. Others choose to have their updates delivered less frequently. The point is that you are in charge and can set your own schedule. And if you are too busy when the update is delivered to your Inbox, you may choose to delete it. Most people choose to receive between two and three NutshellMail updates a day.
Stephen: Is NutshellMail one-size-fits all or can a businessperson customize their account?
Mark: NutshellMail provides several powerful options for customization that can save you even more time. For example, the typical Facebook member has between 160 to 180 friends. It can take a lot of time to develop engaged relationships with this many people. NutshellMail makes communicating with a large audience more efficient. We provide a person with the ability to create separate lists for different groups of Facebook friends, like customers, prospects, family members, etc., whose updates you definitely do not want to miss. Then NutshellMail can be customized to only deliver updates related to those lists. You will not be distracted by updates from people who are not members of the lists you created.
NutshellMail also makes Twitter more user friendly and valuable. First, NutshellMail can be customized so that it informs you not only when you have a new Twitter follower but also when someone decides to “unfollow” you. NutshellMail will also inform you when a direct message has been received or when anyone on Twitter mentions you. In addition, NutshellMail can also alert you based on keywords. This gives you the ability to effectively monitor your industry, competitors, customers, or any other relevant topic.
In effect, NutshellMail is like a person’s social networking RSS reader because it can be used it to filter out all of the noise. You can keep track of everything you want…and nothing you don’t.
Stephen: What are some of the new developments with NutshellMail?
Mark: We are constantly working on new and interesting projects. One of our latest developments is that we now provide the ability to manage both your personal and business Facebook profiles via your Inbox. We are also working on an integration project with YouTube.
We have also accomplished some outstanding integrations of social networking into our Constant Contact product. Here is a tangible example that illustrates the recommendations you made during chapter 5 of your book that demonstrates the power of e-mail and social being integrated. One of our Constant Contact customers recently sent an e-mail campaign to 3,700 customers and prospects. The company experienced a 21.6 percent open rate with approximately 800 people reading it. However, the company was smart to choose to use our sharing featuers, which allow you to easily integrate social media icons into your e-mail, making the content very easy for the recipients to share socially. The results were that an additional 485 people viewed the e-mail campaign. This viral aspect of social networking extended the reach of the original e-mail campaign by 60 percent. Incredible results!
This article was written by Stephen