App Lets SMBs Track Rivals' Social Media
Many SMBs have a hard enough time keeping up with their own social media presence, but a new app proposes to make it easier for them to spy on the neighbors as well.
Perch, which launched earlier this fall from Closely, draws in SMB social media feeds from Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, Yipit and Factual to offer its users a kind of real time business intelligence. Namely, it’s intelligence that flags new deals, promotions, social postings or reviews that pop up in those social spheres.
“Some businesses spend an hour or two a day just going around to see their competitors’ sites or checking out their Yelp pages,” said Perry Evans, founder and CEO of Closely. He said Perch saves them time by consolidating the data into two main feeds in this smartphone app — one for nearby businesses and a second “watch list” of other businesses that don’t necessarily share the same geographic footprint.
Perch, which was developed with venture capital funding and won’t begin to start monetizing until at least mid-2013, is free. Users initially search out their own business through the app’s internal engine and then confirm their business category. Perch then offers up a ranking of nearby businesses in that category that the user is likeliest to want to follow.
This “nearby” feed populates from a three-tiered hierarchy of posts: daily deals, then live current promotions and finally, a new social posting from another business. “We are basically deciding what is the most relevant new marketing data to present in that ‘nearby’ feed,” Evans said.
A second “watch list” feed can populate from businesses of the user’s own choosing. Evans said that a Denver coffeehouse currently using the app, for instance, follows two New York coffeehouses just to stay abreast of best practices.
Evans said the app is useful for following more than just direct competitors. That same Denver coffeehouse, he noted, is also near a convention center. “So it also alerts them to activity that may inform what they put out on a sandwich board or to personalize a promotion to a hashtag of something that’s happening nearby where there’s foot traffic to take advantage of,” he said.
More than a third of Perch’s current users have already activated a “watching” feed, he noted. And summary reports from that feed can be emailed to users on a daily or weekly basis.
For now, Evans is resisting white labeling the app. “In my experience, distribution partners dilute the early development of a product and the smartest thing we can do is to be really close to the end user and iterate on the product as we really dig in to how it gets used,” he said.
He is, however, interested in working with media companies who may want to bundle in Perch with their SMB services.
“Goal No. 1 is to make sure we create something that’s usable every day if not every week by the business for marketplace intelligence,” Evans said. “Once we’ve nailed that down, we’ll broaden the product’s scope and explore more distribution partners.”
Launched: October 2012
Cost to consumer: Free
Compatible devices: iPhone, Android
White label version: No
Revenue streams: The app won’t be monetized until at least mid-2013, Evans said
Key characteristics: Perch lets SMBs follow their competitors’ and business neighbors’ social media feeds in real time. It flags deals, promotions, reviews and postings of nearby competitors in a linear feed and also allows SMBs to customize their own “watch list” of businesses anywhere in the country to keep up with best practices.