The Personal Touch: Social Media Style

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the way I plan to setup the voice service in our new home.

I'd link to that post but I'm typing this out on my blackberry at 30,000 feet on my way to San Francisco this morning.

That post generated a lot of comments. I can't go online and check but I recall it was close to two hundred.

The discussion helped me out immensely and I want to thank everyone who contributed to the discussion.

In particular, I took away two big things; try to use mobile as the primary voice service in the home, and use ATAs as a bridge between traditional telephony handsets and SIP/VOIP.

Both of those takeaways are going to make it into whatever we end up doing.

I still plan to use a cloud PBX provider to host and route our numbers and calls and provide dial tone to the non cell phone handsets in our home.

There were about twenty such providers suggested in the comment thread. I have made a list and am working my way through them.

Three of the suggested providers actually weighed in on the comments. All three avoided pitching their wares and simply offered a name and number to call if I wanted to learn more.

I thought that was a great move by all three and as a result, they are at the top of my list to check out.

I may end up going with some other provider in the end but the social media smarts exhibited by these three providers impressed me and is an example of how social media can and should be part of every company's marketing strategy.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Mark Essel

    “For more information on how best to sell things to Fred Wilson, read his blog and particularly this post.”Kidding aside, I’m smitten by the reverse funnel of social search that your blog has become. You wield it well. I have witnessed at least a dozen social media pro moves by folks on your blog in the last year or so. If my memory still worked and wasn’t flooded with a hybrid of engineering processing algorithms, and spanking new web programming goodies I may even recall them.

  2. kenberger

    There was a talk at SXSWi about self-promotion (Peter Shankman). The gist was to always make yourself available and easy to reach, but don’t tout anything you do– get others to do it for you.And here I am, a 3rd party plugging OnSip (and Shankman it seems!).It’s like with restaurant touts: if they court you to come in, you don’t trust the product and probably run away. But if even a stranger mentions the place, you’re likely to try it.

  3. kenberger

    I don’t mean to re-open the telephony conversation, so skip the below if I’m repeating that, but this is a rare occurrence where I disagree with both takeaways.The problem is they miss future innovation and the fact that no matter how good mobile gets, wired always stays ahead. For example, OnSip’s HD Voice is so good *today*, that I’m addicted to it and can hardly stand even the best mobile connection. And more and more softphones are coming out that you might eventually want to place all your home calls through a computer. The ATA solution was something I’ve touted till recently; now the digital does amount to something.There’s also the issue of who controls your number: good luck if that’s controlled by a mobile company. And there’s great neutral providers: I use Google Voice, and Vonage, fairly flawlessly for that (I know that GV didn’t work for you).

    1. fredwilson

      I’m leaning toward onsip. We’ll use a mix of landline and cell handsets in our home I think

      1. kenberger

        You’ll need that mix. OnSip to another digital phone is heaven, but to a mobile can sometimes be dreadful. Luckily, Google Voice provides an easy way to switch phones on the fly, mid-call.btw: yesterday our devs whipped up a fun way to customize the Polycom phone screens with active webpages (Tweet from phone, etc): (geek alert!, and not well-documented yet)

        1. onsip

          @Fred – Glad to hear it. Hope to hear from you soon.@Ken – I am checking out fishphone today. Thanks for the recommendation!@Everyone – OnSIP has a 30 day free trial, but you can email me [email protected] with any questions and for an additional promo code… Fred Wilson’s blog keeps on giving!

          1. Lawrence Sinclair

            You can learn more about from its blog: There will be a nicer user interface implemented by the end of the week. -Lawrence Sinclair

  4. William Mougayar

    And I emailed one of these companies who intrigued me, asking if they had a Canadian distributor in Toronto.I received a response within 7 mins…and they turned out to be a Canadian company! The online/social media world is getting smaller indeed.

  5. Tereza

    Social media smarts, or social smarts?It used to be a name, phone number and knowledgeable person on the line was standard. Now it is distinctive.All people really want is to be paid attention to.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      “Social media smarts, or social smarts?”Right. Nothing unique to social media here. A good salesman should offer value by sharing his expertise about his type of product or service. Do that, and those you’ve helped will generally consider you when they are ready to buy that type of product or service. No need to tout your wares explicitly in this situation; in fact, you’re better off not doing that. Establish yourself as a knowledgeable resource first and sales will follow naturally from the credibility you build.

  6. ShanaC

    Something I’ve learned through social media- I’m pretty average in my worries. I’m human, after all. Posting to my specific needs is helpful. It makes me feel like a human rather than a target. At the end of the day, social media is just a way to let humans interact more with each other in a mediated enviroment.

    1. enrolled agent exam

      Absolutely agree. That’s one of the great things about social media– it’s SOCIAL. It’s humans interacting. When people get real and post about real needs, it makes everything feel a little less mechanical.

  7. paramendra

    Blogging away at 30,000 feet!? If you are trying to impress us, well, I am impressed.As for the topic at hand, you realize that you are a high profile customer, right? I am surprised some vendor has not offered the stuff to you for free, or maybe even paid you in reverse, in exchange for you talking about their ware at your blog.My guess is 10,000 people – at least that many – read about those vendors.I am thinking Tiger Woods and Nike here.PS. Do you pay for things like laptops and smartphones?

  8. RichardF

    For me how a company uses social media is a pretty good indicator of how you are likely to be treated by a company as a customer. Noise vs value created is the easiest measure that tells me the difference between companies that use it just because they think they should and the ones that have a genuine interest in serving their existing and new potential customers.Smart PR companies are grasping it but there still seem to be many PR people that think they just need to apply the same old principle of creating as much noise as possible in social media.It’s a bit like Twitter really, I keep the number I follow really low (probably too low) but it doesn’t take too long before the noise ratio just makes it unusable. The number of retweets a person makes is a good measure for me of whether they are worth following or not.Hope the powder in Beaver Creek was awesome.

  9. daveblack

    Social media must be part of your marketing and customer service strategy/plans. (period)Join the conversations here for further advices!

  10. deancollins

    I didn’t see the original post but with 200 comments you probably have all the information you need.Just wanted to plug how much i think Asterisk rocks.I have a simple asterisk server running in my home office (I use Trixbox but only because i’ve been using it for 5+ years – probably other better variants otu there), being able to have an indial number in Australia and Uk for just a few dollars a month means friends are able to reach me – best part is we each have our own voicemail on the server so calls for my wife go to her voicemail box and most of the time she doesn’t answer them from her extension but via her email box where the message is forwarded as soon as it’s received.You dont need a comp sci degree to install it but it does help to have a geek friend if you’re clueless. For more info on Asterisk i posted a 60 second dummies guide at…Cheers,Dean

  11. Matt McLernon

    I was one of the folks who went the email route for the personal touch and hope it wasn’t too old fashioned. Like the email – I work with Vonage and happy to set up a demo that might be of interest.

  12. paramendra

    Fred Wilson will go to any length to blog daily. Or, rather, any height. That is how you know this was an April Fool joke: