Social Media Marketing Entrepreneurs Should Listen To Customers

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.


The typical definition of an entrepreneur, I think, misses the mark by focusing on business risk instead of communication. Entrepreneurship works when it listens to customers and targets products or services toward growth. This deeper meaning has extended well beyond 19th century French origins.

My chat with Klipfolio President and CEO Allan Wille reflects a growing interest in how entrepreneurs pivot by using data to make good decisions.

鈥淚t鈥檚 a story of perseverance and a lot of twists and turns,鈥 Wille says in reflecting on his company鈥檚 launch in 2001 around a simple idea: 鈥淭here鈥檚 got to be a better way to monitor the information that matters to you.鈥

Sixteen years ago, our email accounts were stored in what we now call 鈥渢he cloud,鈥 but the Web was still new. 鈥淲e approached it from a personal or consumer type angle,鈥 Wille says.

Thousands of users built and shared widgets for making their personal dashboards better content aggregators, but it was so 鈥渕assively popular鈥 that Wille could not pay his hosting fees. There was no business model: news publishers didn鈥檛 have money to pay the start-up to build them a desktop channel. Even though there were about 250,000 users, the company could not find 鈥渁 repeatable, scalable business model,鈥 Wille says.

In 2004, Lufthansa recognized that large numbers of staffers were using the personal dashboard and asked a game-changing question: 鈥淐an we use it to push business data to our employees?鈥 Wille鈥檚 team worked through the night and responded with a successful pitch. The $35,000 annual contract 鈥渨as like a huge windfall for us.鈥

More importantly, it was the first time they were paid well 鈥渢o solve a real business problem using our product,鈥 Wille says. Intel, Staples, American Express and other enterprise customers followed, as Klipfolio invested in developing business functions.

<p>Klipfolio Command Centre Dashboard</p>

Klipfolio Command Centre Dashboard


Even with more than 100 information technology customers at the time, Klipfolio had not yet found its space. 鈥淚t felt like we were pushing string,鈥 Wille says. In 2010, an insurance company helped define three needs 鈥 mobile cloud-based, easier self-serve use, and less expensive. The new app grew from 350 business customers in 2012 to more than 9,000.

鈥淗ere鈥檚 the difference: that product felt like there was pull,鈥 Wille says. 鈥淲hen you have product market fit, you feel it; there鈥檚 a fundamentally different feeling that you get throughout the company, and the way the company scales and asks questions.鈥

Klipfolio鈥檚 current focus is on small and mid-sized business found through search engine optimization, content and inbound marketing. 鈥淭ruly, every company should be monitoring their metrics, if they want to grow, and scale, and be efficient,鈥 Wille says. 鈥淚 think there has to be an authenticity or a genuine core belief that your company is doing something and is backing something that is important.

Klipfolio, for example, uses its dashboard to identify and measure key performance indicators for growth. One KPI metric is what it calls 鈥渢rue trials.鈥 Klipfolio defines it through the marketing funnel. 鈥淚f we can get a trial user to come back, even a second day, their probability of turning into a customer is something like 50 percent,鈥 Wille says. 鈥淎 true trial is somebody who comes back after one day of using the application, and we鈥檙e optimizing around that.鈥 The metric can be combined with engagement rate, spending and conversion data.

<p>Business Data</p>

Business Data


Klipfolio also serves broader business functions 鈥 monitoring warehouse and logistical data that include predictive models and alerts to avoid problems. Dashboards help users combine data sources and view real-time change from a control center. One important example is creating a ratio to compare social media activity and spending on advertising. Hootsuite or Buffer data can be combined with Quick Books data, Wille says. Current Klipfolio customers are combining as many as seven data sources into a single metric.

That鈥檚 where things get really interesting鈥 that ability to not only see everything in one screen, but then also be able to mash up and calculate more meaningful metrics, I think, is really important鈥 鈥 Allan Wille, Klipfolio.

Most customers, though, are monitoring sales, finance or social media data for the first time. 鈥淭hat鈥檚 an infinite improvement in how they control and how they move forward, how they make changes,鈥 Wille says.

Wille admits there is a learning curve for using Klipfolio, but the company emphasizes user support. The focus should be on a few metrics that change and spark conversation about why data are going up or down, and what can be done about it.

The shift toward visual display of real-time data reflects a direction that now drives social media planning. We need to build flexible tools that allow for matching real-time, meaningful social media monitoring with employee and customer behaviors.

Social media are useful tools for businesses when the communication reflects relationship-building inside and outside companies. However, the emergence of artificial intelligence and chat bots represent challenges and opportunities for enlightened companies deploying meaningful and predictive social media data.

It鈥檚 great that Klipfolio offers free educational licenses, and I鈥檓 using it this semester to teach data analytics to my Social Media Measurement & Management students in the UNO Social Media Lab.

<p>Social Media Communication</p>

Social Media Communication