Please note: We are going to suggest a workable solution to the quandary posed by having multiple lists generated from your social media & email accounts. It’s not particularly pretty but it is the best that I can offer based on the applications that I have found and have worked with. If you have a better solution, please share!
When we left off at the end of Part II, we had created lists of our “A”, “B”, and “C” accounts from each of our major social media networks (Twitter, FaceBook, and LinkedIn) as well as from our email accounts. The question we were left with was .. “How can we aggregate these lists into a central database?”. If you have read Part II, and I suggest you do, you will recognize this as being an extremely complex task.
I posed this question on LinkedIn Answers and did receive some replies although that number was less than I had expected. I do believe that this is reflective of the fact that, right now, there is no great answer. At this stage, everything is so fragmented that nobody has yet figured a cost-effective way to pull all of this together (at least that I am aware of). There is only one tool that I have in my arsenal that is at least partially up to the task and that tool is Gist.
Why Gist? While Gist may not be a true CRM, it is very Social. It becomes the basis for our social media and email aggregation. Nothing that I have encountered is as powerful at mining contact data and social media information as is Gist. What this means is …
- Gist connects to your Twitter and FaceBook accounts and automatically pulls followers and friends into the Gist database and establishes an account record for that individual. It also automatically updates changes to those contact records.
- It does the same for your Gmail, Google Contacts, Yahoo, and AOL accounts
- New followers and friends are automatically added to Gist as a new contact record.
- You will need to do a manual upload of your Outlook and LinkedIn accounts however, we will also discuss a way that you can have Gist do this for you automatically.
- Once Gist has some information on a contact, it voraciously scours the internet for more. Things like news feeds, blogs, websites, addresses, whatever it can find on that individual.
- Providing the contact name is consistent, it is incredibly adept at merging data into one contact record and avoiding duplicates. Where you will create duplicates is when you have names like “Craig Jamieson” and “Craig M. Jamieson”. Still, there is a record merge utility that works very well.
- Your new combined contact record will include a listing of emails, files and links exchanged with this contact in addition to streams from Twitter, FaceBook, and other “news” feeds. You can even reply, retweet, and comment within these streams allowing you to interact with others directly through Gist.
- Gist will also rank your contacts by their importance to you based on your interaction with that individual and tells you when that last interaction occurred. Hello! Can you say “A”, “B”, “C”?
I think it is critical that I make sure that one key element is clearly understood. I am not entering links etc. into Gist in order to establish my contact’s social media profiles. Gist is doing all of this for me without any need for my interaction. None! That’s powerful.
As was stated, Gist will require you to manually export files from Outlook and LinkedIn and then import them into Gist. When doing so, Gist does a great job of merging that data into existing records if they are present. However, there is a way to circumvent manual imports for both. You will need to install two add-ons for your Outlook: The LinkedIn Toolbar for Outlook and the Gist Plug-In for Outlook (this link is an actual file upload of that utility). You are going to love this!
- The Gist plug-in, among other things, will connect Gist directly to your Outlook contact records and that will allow Gist to pull those records directly into Gist. Sweet!
- The LinkedIn Toolbar for Outlook works bi-directionally. It looks at your Outlook contact list and watches for when any of those contacts sign up for a LinkedIn account and, when they do, it notifies you of the new opportunity to connect. It also takes your LinkedIn connections and creates contact records for them in Outlook.
- Since my LinkedIn connections are now also contact records in Outlook, and since the Gist plug-in for Outlook grabs contact records from Outlook … Voila! My LinkedIn contacts are also auto-loaded to Gist. Double sweet!
- If you do not use Outlook, you will need to perform regular manual export/imports from LinkedIn.
- Technically, providing I have exported files from Twitter and FaceBook, I could import these into Outlook but there is really little or no benefit that I can derive from that primarily as there would be no direct connection to keep these Outlook records updated without regularly doing a re-import with the latest data.
- For those of you who may be familiar with Xobni for Outlook, which is a great tool, and are thinking that it will do the same thing …..you would be incorrect. We are speaking of apples and oranges in this application. Xobni does not create or maintain records of its own.
In this scenario, Gist now becomes my central CRM database. I can also classify each contact as “A”. “B”, or “C” through the use of tags which eliminates the need to do that at the individual social media network level. Still, I have bad news people. I am afraid that there is going to need to be a Part IV where we can recap this and talk about practical application (smile). In this next post I would also like to bring some tools to your attention that may be of interest dependent upon your specific needs.
Thanks for visiting and please stay tuned!
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