Yesterday afternoon, I enjoyed a 45-minute conversation with Nimble.com founder and CEO Jon Ferrara. I learned about this service through a news release last week. Most news releases pitching products and services land in my computer trash basket, but Nimble seemed to address a problem I consider to be at the crux of effective social media integration into AEC marketing activities.
The problem, as I see it, is this: How do you separate all the noise and diverse social media channels to distill and deepen your relationships with current and potential clients? Without some tool to manage things, you would need to constantly monitor separate accounts at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google + and more, seeking to organize and consolidate the data — sometimes obscure — in a manner that might be useful to you.
Nimble offers a different answer, one that, if it works, would be elegantly simple, especially since it is a free service for most individual users. Ferrara doesn’t mind. “If we convert three per cent to paid users (at $15.00 per month each), we’ll be a $100 million company in five years,” he said.
This type of talk isn’t just air – Ferrara says he built what proved to be the among the first CRM (client relationship management) systems to create co-operation and co-ordination within sales organizations, Goldmine, in 1989 — and sold it some years later for a rather substantial amount of money to focus on time with his growing family.
With Nimble.com, Ferrara appears to have combined the CRM and sales force automation concepts he developed earlier with social media applications, and here, the potential for business effectiveness within the AEC community is truly intriguing.
Shortly after signing up, I began receiving daily updates reporting on significant “changes” within my extended social network. Promotions, career changes, things like that . . the type of data that if relevant, might warrant a little “touch” to the person in my network.
But I could only see the system’s potential more clearly when Ferrara helped explain how I can integrate it within my email and (possibly) working calendar systems.
I got the email to work last night. Feeds from my email accounts are ported into nimble.com. Then, if the email matches someone on my social media contact list, I can see at a glance the details from the various social media services. Better, I can see if new email contacts have any social media activity, and if so, link to their social media feeds. In other words, I now can “look into” the social media background and framework of all of my contacts, quickly and at one point.
I haven’t tested some other extensions, including Nimble’s ability to link with the MailChimp email broadcasting program and Wufoo.com, which generates forms and can be used to create inbound inquiries and leads feeding into the system.
(We are using Wufoo, for example, for the Best Construction Blog competition; however these inbound emails will not be stored in my general system because they are provided for the specific purpose of validating votes, not for email harvesting. However, voters who requested the Construction Marketing Ideas newsletter or book could be included in the database.)
It is too early for me to say if Nimble is the right answer for social media management. I’m not sure if I yet want to live virtually always in the Nimble space. However, if I have the choice of weaving through several social media services and my email, calendar and internal sales management tools, and having some centralized place to keep everything in order, I’ll probably be “sold” in time.
I welcome your feedback and comments on this service.