If you use Google to handle your email, you may have heard of the awesome social plugin from the folks at Rapportive. This plugin allows you to view the social connections of anyone who emails you right in the context of the email. Check it out: This information comes up on the right of my screen whenever Rahul sends me an email. You can also hover over any email address and have the relevant info show up. Really powerful stuff and as lovers of all things contact data-related, we at BatchBlue have been big fans since they launched. So of course we were excited when the folks behind Rapportive got in touch and asked if we wanted to participate in…
You may have noticed our big announcement yesterday that BatchBook is now listed in the Google Apps Marketplace. We’ve since gotten a number of people (including reporters, other SaaS companies and even a few customers) asking us simply, “Why did you join?” So I thought I would share my response with you all. As I explained to Mike Pearson who wrote an article about the new Marketplace for the E-Commerce Times, it just felt like the right thing to do. Let me explain why. Google understands the value of giving customers control of their own information. All of the Google Apps business products have a publicly available API. You may think this is only important to tech addicts and uber…
We’ve put together a new program here at BatchBlue. You see, as we’ve grown our product and our relationships with the folks who are using it, we came to realize there are some very smart people out there who are coming up with some ingenious ways to set up and use BatchBook for their various CRM needs. We wanted to introduce you to the folks who we know from their involvement in our forums or with our customer service team as expert BatchBook users. They each have experience setting up BatchBook accounts for themselves and their own clients, and are now available to help our users with some of the more advanced functions in BatchBook such as: Prepping database and…
Business is booming here at BatchBlue and as such, we’re looking to add a few fine folks to our staff. If you like working with fun people, having a flexible schedule, helping small businesses and building something cool that, well, hasn’t really been done before, please take a look at our BatchBlue Jobs page. We’re currently in need of some stellar Customer Service help and a kickin’ Ruby on Rails developer. Both jobs would be part-time to possible full-time and would involve in-person as well as remote work (so local to the Rhode Island area is preferred). Can-do attitude and a “That’s the ticket!” sensibility a must! Sure working at BatchBlue is not ALL mustaches, cookie parties and donut cakes,…
Jeremiah Owyang recently wrote an article for CRM Magazine Social CRM Vendors Don’t Walk The Talk where he puts a number of CRM vendors through the spreadsheet grinder to see how their social media engagement measures up to the social media features their products espouse. BatchBook was not included in the analysis, though BatchFriend and customer Paul Mabray from Vintank.com was kind enough to mention us in the comments. I agree with Jeremiah, but I think there is a clear distinction between the CRM companies that are now making a social media play versus the social media upstarts who are incorporating some traditional CRM features such as sales and customer service management into their products as they build them. Jeremiah…
This past week, I was at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York City. Since we launched BatchBlue Software just over three years ago, I’ve been to quite a few conferences. In tandem with the growth of our company has been the rise of social media, which has been great for us in many ways since our product, BatchBook, is an online contact organizer that grabs feeds from social media sites and lets you read them in one place.
But something seems to be changing in the conference world. In the past, they’ve been great places not only to learn from the leaders in your industry but to make connections, spark new friendships and form potential new partnerships. That sense of the hallway conversations being as important as the sessions themselves seems to be receding, largely because the conversations…aren’t really happening.
At Web 2.0, people were heads-down on their various electronic devices during breaks, not engaging with each other but seeking frenetically to connect with people not actually at the conference. I don’t mean to just specifically call out the Web 2.0 Expo because this is certainly happening in other places as well. And the conference panels were very good, in fact from a business-level some of the most useful that I’ve attended. But that’s another post.
Having recently attended the PopTech conference, which is a place where people connect instantly and constantly to share ideas, discuss sessions, start projects, I was particularly struck by the lack of attendee interaction. Even at the Web 2.0 “Power Up” station (Web 2.0’s version of the Blogger’s Lounge at another highly social conference, SXSW) it felt like we were in a cavernous office, with people quickly clicking and scrolling away in solitude rather than talking about the sessions that they had just attended.
Admittedly, people still have their daily work to do and as someone who liveblogs, I’m guilty of having my laptop up and running most of the time during sessions. But another thing that’s changing is what people are doing while they are online during the sessions. The Keynote speakers had an enormous screen behind them that was at first broadcasting their Twitterstream (hashtagged #w2e) behind the speakers. As an attendee, I found it enormously distracting. danah boyd from Microsoft Research New England, presenting on (ironically) “Streams of Content”, found it so unnerving that the audience was laughing at criticisms of her presentation that she later stated on her blog that she “closed down”.
I’m all for the back-channel and having a spirited conversation about a presentation, but I can tell you that as a presenter, to have it broadcasted while you are presenting sucks, especially once the spammers and the trolls join in. There’s even a term now, “harshtag”, which is when people start tagging their related tweets with something insulting in order to get it to trend.
Michelle recently wrote an article about some of the networking events that the BatchBlue communications team is attending. We then hosted an #sbbuzz Twitter chat discussing with our fellow small business owners how to make the most of those events (thanks for the tips, buzzers!). So I thought I would share some insights and stories from a few of these events as they happen.
I recently flew down to Washington, DC to attend Network Solution’s Grow Smart Business conference. I heard about this event from my very good Twitter friend Shashi Bellamkonda (@shashib), the Social Media Swami at Network Solutions. I knew anything that he is involved in would be worthwhile, but honestly I had not predicted just how productive this travel would be.
I flew down the night before the one day conference and visited my old co-workers at Matrix Group International. While at their offices I learned that Matrix CEO, and my former business partner Joanna Pineda (@jmpineda) was one of the speakers at the Grow Smart Conference (such a small small business world). I also learned from Joanna and from Twitter that the socially over-achieving @shashib and the nice folks at WASP Barcode were hosting a happy hour that night about 2 blocks from my hotel. Don’t have to ask me twice!
At the happy hour I was delighted to see more great friends Brent Leary from CRM Essentials (@brentleary) and Anita Campbell (@smallbiztrends) from Small Biz Trends. I first met Brent a few years ago at the Inbound Marketing Summit (I sat in the front row and devoured his then prescient talk on Social CRM). We’ve kept in touch through Twitter, occasional conference sitings and surprise radio interviews down south. And Brent introduced me to Anita this past winter at the Small Business Technology conference in NYC. I had always loved Anita’s site SmallBizTrends.com and could tell immediately why it is such a valuable resource. Anita personifies the resourcefulness and integrity you find in every article on her site.
Global climate change is obviously a big, big issue. So what can we as small businesses do about it? As part of Blog Action Day 2009, BatchBlue turned to our resident experts in all things small business (our customers and our contact network, of course!) to find out what they are doing not only to bring in the green, but also to be green in their business practices. During Tuesday’s small business Twitter chat #SBBUZZ, we discussed how there are many small steps you can take to help green up your business (and thus help do the big work of saving the planet!) We were fortunate to be joined on #SBBUZZ last night by green expert, author and professional organizer…
Yesterday, a customer wrote in to tell us they loved our web site. They wanted to know what agency did it. This was quite flattering, because the answer is… us! 🙂
While everybody in the company is at least a little involved in everything we develop at BatchBlue, BatchBlue.com is more or less the brainchild of Michelle and me. We’re constantly making updates, looking for ways to refine our message, grow our reach, etc.
But for this customer (and anyone else), what I want to do is make a list of what I would look for in an agency if (gasp!) BatchBlue were to outsource the development of BatchBlue.com.
Make sure they work with web standards.
So, what’s the big deal then?
A web site built the old way just might do the trick for you. Unless, of course, you want to do anything with it. Like change your logo. Or change your colors. Or add page with some special offers. Or optimize the site for mobile devices. Or have another developer work on it. At this point, a site built the old way can be terrible to work with.
You can see where I’m going here. If you want a quick website thrown together that you plan to completely replace in the future (when the budget is bigger or whatever), then maybe your nephew’s FrontPage skills will be just fine. But if you want a web site that will grow with you over time, get someone who knows about HTML, CSS, lean code, and “bulletproof” web design (designing with future modifications in mind).
You should see how different BatchBlue.com is compared with a couple years ago. Because it is built with clean code and CSS, every change is really just a tweak. No full redesign has ever been needed. The same could be said about BatchBook… but I would never show you what BatchBook looked like two years ago!
Last night, BatchBlue Onboarding Specialist Stephanie Sweeney and I made the drive up to Boston to attend the Rock Stars of Social CRM event, hosted by Radian6 and Chris Brogan. They had a lot of fun with the Rock Star theme, complete with colored stage lights, concert tees and even a full-blown Rock Band set-up for audience members to rock out with after the panel. The panelists included were Frank Eliason (Comcast), Paul Greenberg (Author of CRM at the Speed of Light), Michael Thomas (National President, CRM Association), and our favorite CRM go-to guy, Brent Leary (Co-author of Barack 2.0 and Co-founder of CRM Essentials). Because we consider BatchBook to be a social CRM (slide via Brent Leary), I was…