CubeSocial – Personal conversation management rather than Corporate client relationship management?
Posted on: September 7, 2011
In many marketing and BD teams, the focus is on managing large, central client or CRM databases into which everyone enters their clients, referrers, contacts and activities so that some sort of co-ordination, planning and tracking can take place.
But many lawyers, accountants and surveyors continue to resist using such systems. Their reasons are many and varied but include “I’m not sharing”, “It’s the marketing team’s system for issuing bulletins and invites” to “But it doesn’t support me in the way that I work”. The use, by some, of social media tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with relevant people and start a conversation has driven then further away from the centre.
What is CubeSocial?
So it was with great pleasure that I attended a demonstration of a new software tool for social media enthusiasts called CubeSocial developed by two entrepreneurs (from investment banking and technology backgrounds – I can’t decide whether they are braver to be entrepreneurs or to target the legal market first!).
I guess the easiest way to describe CubeSocial is “instant personal on-line conversation management”. It’s a way to centralise and co-ordinate all of your on-line conversations. And as most relationships start with and depend on conversations, it’s good for relationship tracking too.
It’s kind of tricky to explain what it does and why it’s so powerful if you’re not familiar with the social media world but I’ll give it a go.
Twitter friends loaded
The first thing that CubeSocial does is to load (pre-populate in tech parlance) your Twitter friends. As this can take a while, especially if you have lots of followers, it suggests that you go find yourself some coffee when you do this. And so I did – how social!
Social media profiles
CubeSocial will then do a search of all the social media sites for 20 of your friends – call it social media intelligence if you like. This means that the system goes off to find out which other platforms are used by your contacts – Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, FourSquare, Klout, blogs etc and makes these accounts instantly accessible to you. Suddenly, you get to see the many (social) faces of your contacts and gain an immediate view of how into social media they are. We like simple integration.
Reputation management and market intelligence
You can also set up and save social searches on key words or phrases. This could be just what we are looking for in terms of a simple tool to monitor mentions of our name, brand or firm for digital PR and reputation management.
It also – like Google Alerts – enables you to set up searches that would support your sector or thought leadership campaigns – instantly aggregating information on a key issue for you as a source, for example, of ideas for blogs.
Home page and tags
This is similar to the Twitter homepage – in that you can see the most recent posts from all your contacts. Furthermore, if you are using a multi-user licence you get to see all the updates across your organisation – powerful stuff indeed if you are still trying to get your fee-earners to do joined up client communication.
There isn’t a list facility like in Twitter to allow you to see only posts from specified groups of contacts but there is a tag facility that would enable you to do the same thing. I can see the value in having tags for things like key clients, hot prospects, friends or even to reflect sector or segment interests. You can also tag events – so you can keep track of contacts made at particular events and how those relationships are developing.
When you click on a contact you immediately see all the Twitter mentions and messages you have exchanged – as a proper stream of conversation. This makes it super easy to remind yourself – perhaps just before you call or meet them next – when you last spoke and what about and to see their latest posts. It also has the facility for you to add manual notes and save favourite tweets/messages.
Another neat thing is that CubeSocial automatically calculates the number of your contacts using different social media platforms, so you can quickly assess whether to concentrate your future efforts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc. Easy segmentation and targeting here we come.
Benefits to lawyers, accountants and surveyors
From the demo, I can see that professionals would like the system because:
It is really simple to use
It loads your contacts from other systems automatically (i.e. time efficient)
It enables you to organise simple lists of related contacts using your categorisations rather than forcing you to use someone else’s understanding of your client groups and markets
It makes it possible to check through posts on various social media platforms very quickly each day (i.e. time efficient again)
It allows you to see – at a glance – all of the posts a particular contact has made across all the different platforms allowing you to prepare for calls and meetings with the latest news quickly
No doubt marketers will be a little concerned at the fact that their fee-earners may abandon central systems and concentrate on developing and relying upon their personal CubeSocial systems but I have three things to say on this one:
Be glad that your fee-earners are engaging in conversations with the market, clients and contacts
It’s your challenge to find a way to co-ordinate client relationship management across teams and the firm – find a way to add value to what the fee-earners are doing
Or you could invest in the multi-user licence so that they use shared CubeSocial
This isn’t a free tool. There’s a flat rate of £29 pcm for a single user, and £49 for a five user licence – which would be enough for a marketing/BD person and a couple of enthusiastic fee-earners. There are also options to buy additional searches and facilities.
Hopeware for the future
CubeSocial is a browser based application hosted in the cloud so it is accessible from anywhere. So if you are an iPad user you can use it just fine. But I’m afraid that I am addicted to managing my connections and conversations when I’m on the move on my iPhone and there isn’t a specific app for it yet (Hint, Hint). But if future developments increase its power as an opportunity and sales management system I may be tempted across.
CubeSocial is new. As I write a new version is being released that allows auto-loading of contacts from LinkedIn and Outlook so that you have one central depository of client, contact and referrer information. That should greatly increase the appeal to the professions no end – who tend to be much more comfortable with these tools than Twitter. Next on the list is Facebook friends for those who use it for business purposes (I admit that my Facebook page is strictly for friends and family).
There are also plans for prioritising contacts and information posts and different ways to manage individuals and organisations. Watch this space.