Don't abuse new social media tool

Real Estate Tech Review: Flowtown

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Inman Connect New York | January 29 - February 1, 2019

The potential for Flowtown.com to be used poorly is huge.

It has automated "engagement" tools. It scoops up all sorts of social media connections. It’s probably a stalker’s dream come true.

I’m going to talk about this tool anyway, though, because I’m going to trust that you aren’t going to use it to drive your personal brand into the dirt.

Repeat after me: "I will continue to treat ‘leads’ like actual human beings, even if I start using Flowtown."

OK. We can continue now.

When someone indicates that he might want to do business with you and gives you an e-mail address, you’re likely to want to see what else you can find out about him.

You’re probably going to want to connect with the prospective client on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or whatever other social media tools you can — even though connecting with that individual in those networks isn’t as good as actually getting to meet the person face to face.

You’ll likely want to build a social media profile. That’s the heart of what Flowtown does.

Here’s the process outline:

  • Gather some e-mail addresses.
  • Import those e-mail addresses into Flowtown, either one at a time or by connecting Gmail, MailChimp (a popular e-mail newsletter management service), or uploading a CSV file.
  • Assign your e-mails to different groups (the defaults include influencers, customers, leads and others — probably a good start but you can add more if you like).
  • Click continue.

After Flowtown chews on these e-mail addresses for awhile, it generates a profile page for each contact. The profile includes work information (pulled from LinkedIn), age demographic information, gender, and all the social media profiles it can find. …CONTINUED

It’s pretty thorough in terms of looking for accounts. One of my tests yielded all of these network profiles for someone, based just on their e-mail address: myspace.com, bebo, hi5, NyTimes.com, WashingtonPost.com, Amazon.com, WordPress.com, Flickr, Plaxo, LATimes.com, Tigerdirect.com, Xanga.com and of course the big three: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

I did notice that if a person has multiple accounts, Flowtown doesn’t always grab the most active account. Also, Flowtown doesn’t offer a mechanism to manually add or adjust the results.

If you have your Twitter account connected via OAuth — which allows you to share items such as photos, videos and other information with another site without handing over passwords — Flowtown will tell you which Twitter connections you have in common. It’ll also let you send a direct message or a reply from the Flowtown profile page.

So starting with just an e-mail address, you can probably find a wide variety of other social media information about the person. Remember: You’re going to treat this person like a real human being.

The dashboard view of Flowtown is a collection of all your contacts, which you can sort by the different networks they’re in or also by Twitter Klout score. This is handy for figuring out which of the people in your Flowtown account are engaging heavily with Twitter.

The other big feature of Flowtown, and this is where you can start killing your brand if you’re not careful, is automated messaging. You can configure Flowtown to send e-mails to people based on which service they use.

And you can attach each of these campaigns to a specific group. So you could automate a drip e-mail campaign to a specific group (leads, for example) to try to get them to connect with you on Twitter, and that e-mail would go out only to people in the "leads" group who already have a Twitter account.

You can also schedule how many days out you want different messages to go out, so you can stagger these e-mails.

Flowtown is a pretty useful tool for finding which networks people are using. The automated campaigns are a great way to make you into an automaton if not handled with care, but there could be some great usage possibilities as well.

Overall, the tool’s main usage seems to be gathering social profile data and conducting blast communication. Be careful.

Gahlord Dewald is the president and janitor of Thoughtfaucet, a strategic creative services company in Burlington, Vt. He’s a frequent speaker on applying analytics and data to creative marketing endeavors.

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