Social Appending: How Far We Have Come

New Tool Makes it Easy to Find Prospects on Social Networks

image In my most recent ClickZ column, I reflect back on my days as a marketing cog in the corporate machine, a time in which the practice of “appending” was considered “black hat.”

Appending is the practice of adding contact information to records in your prospect database. If you have someone’s name and company, you could “append” their email address and mailing address through a number of services that keep that kind of information.

Companies that sell mailing lists often provide this kind of service.

The thinking was that the prospect hadn’t given you permission to contact them through these other channels, and that it violated the “submit button contract” that is implied when they completed an online form.

We’ve come a long way

Oli Gardner has an interesting info graphic on the Unbounce blog. The graphic highlights a tool called FlowTown. This is a social appending tool. Marketers can use it to find the social media accounts of their prospect list, and begin marketing to them through those social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn.

This is where those of us who have been around the block groan, and then secretly cheer.

Why this is different

While appending has not been considered a best practice, it happens. In fact, the best way to do this is to send ask your prospects for permission after appending the data; sending them an email asking if they want email messages, for example.

Many social media platforms allow us to easily “unfriend” or block unsavory marketers. This puts the opt-out capability in our hands. So asking for permission ahead of time is less of a problem.

But there is a right way to inject yourself into someone else’s conversations. It’s called a Content-oriented Social Media Strategy.

        

  • Only “append” people who have expressed an interest in your industry or products. This is how you know your content will be relevant.
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  • Begin with non-promotional content. “How-to” and “10 Ways” style articles test well.
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  • Use social landing pages, such as a blog or Facebook page to “keep it social”
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  • Measure what you send. Stop sending content that doesn’t generate clicks, shares or comments.

If you’re going to jump into the social conversations, do it right, or it will backfire in a very public, viral way.

  • Agree with the points you made above Brian. Quite insightful.