As a social media and public relations consultant, I spend a lot of time online researching various blogs and publications within vertical interest areas. One of the things that I have found frustrating is manually keeping multiple lists of contacts and notes about each contact.
There are some extremely expensive tools. like Salesforce, and other CRM programs like ACT, which are cheaper but don't really address the needs of people looking to build relationships over time rather than sell stuff. Vocus has a built-in CRM-type management, but that is more aimed at sending out messages to a list, and it's pricey. There are many others as well, but BuzzStream seems different.
The Austin-based company was started by Paul May and Jeremy Bencken. Paul serves and the CEO and is a start-up junkie, with most of the last fifteen years either starting or working on early stage startups. Jeremy Bencken serves as chairman and is a software engineer, product manager and entrepreneur.
I asked Jeremy what the inspiration for BuzzStream was:
The inspiration for this came from the pain I had as an entrepreneur doing my own PR…What I realized after a while was that the key to success was doing very targeted, personalized outreach. However, I couldn't find any tools that helped me manage my growing list of influencer relationships. The tools on the market were very expensive, but worse, they were all about spray-and-pray pitching, which was a big problem for me… My approach to finding journalists and bloggers was to monitor the news, find people writing about my area, and then reach out and start building a relationship. Then, when I had something newsworthy to talk about, I could just build on my existing relationship.
Bingo! This is exactly the way that I approach public relations, and the fact that the BuzzStream is geared toward this is very interesting to me.
Some of BuzzStream's Features I Like
- Bookmarklets to capture data on the fly, in seconds
- Auto Scan of blog/page to look for contact info and auto populate a new contact, then you add what only human eyes can see
- Built-in Twitter search captures your conversations with contacts
- Ability to add tags and sort your contact list by tag
- Ability to import and export data (upcoming)
- Metrics recorded for each media outlet or blog are PageRank, Compete Traffic, Technorati Rank, Yahoo Inbound Links and Site Age.
- By putting a BuzzStream e-mail into your BCC field, the system will add the content of the email to your contact
Jeremy says they plan to add a number of other "mind blowing" features in the near term.
Certainly what I have seen so far is intriguing. Enough so that I started right away to think of features I would love to see. When I start doing this I know that I am falling in love with an application. Here are just a few of my ideas and thoughts:
Features I Would Like to See
Ability to add more than one Twitter account. I would like to be able to track conversations between myself and contacts, as well as between members of the team and these same contacts. Also, the ability to add more than one Twitter account per contact. Some have more than one Twitter account.
Ability to Group Backlinks by Client or Project. You can add as many Web sites as you would like (don't know if their is an upward limit) but they are all in one place, would be nice to group by client.
Ability to Delete Notes. Some of my contacts are also friends and may send me unrelated Tweets. It would be ideal to be able to delete notes, where Tweets are stored, on a case-by-case basis.
Ability to Send Tweets from Software. I think sending Tweets from the program would be helpful for workflow. The fact that you can send a tweet from anywhere you normally would and it gets picked up is cool, but when you are in the program looking up contacts, it would be very good if you could send directly then pick up responses in your tool of choice.
Link Building Pet Peeve. I realize some people go out to make agreements to trade links but as someone who is interested in earned media I find this practice abhorrent. BuzzStream allows you to organize these contacts as well, complete with a drop down menu that includes "link agreement" as a status. To each his own. I would call it something like, "agreed to publish." But this is nitpicky.
What It Will Cost
But what does it cost, you might ask? I asked too and here is what Jeremy said:
Our pricing is yet to be determined, but we priced the Link Building product at free, $50/mo for personal edition, $250/mo for company edition, and agency edition is individually tailored. One of my goals was to create a product that I myself would have been able to afford as a bootstrap entrepreneur, so that's our general orientation.
For now you can try it for free and BuzzStream was so kind as to supply Communication Ovetones with 75 BuzzStream Beta invites to check out the new application. If you DO sign up, please let me know what your thoughts are on the new offering her or on Twitter @kamichat.
Mashable did a great job of showing you some screen captures, so be sure to go and take a look at them.