If a small business wants to keep up with online mentions of local competitors, services like Google Alerts can search the web and send notifications. But what if a small business only wanted to know what its local competitors were posting on social media sites?
Now there’s an app for that. Perch aims to help small businesses maximize their social media marketing by providing a personalized stream of local promotions and events being publicized online. Perch, whose CEO is original Mapquest founder Perry Evans, keeps track of social media locally, specifically targeting small businesses.
“Small business owners tell us they feel out of control and just can’t keep up,” Evans explains. “A lot of this is a function of the limited time and confidence in their knowledge. We see an often visceral fear that their competitors may be getting a leg up on them.”
The site provides a view of everything happening online in a convenient smartphone app. You can see Daily Deals and social media posts, sorted by business. This doesn’t only help small businesses keep track of competitors’ deals, but also give those small businesses an idea of how other local businesses are utilizing social media.
“Local directory sites like Perch are trying to help main street small businesses get online,” Ramon Ray, publisher and editor of Small Business Technology, says. “But beyond being online they want to help them find new customers, be optimized for mobile commerce and more. The winner in all of these local offerings will be who has the biggest database of businesses, who can drive the most traffic of customers to them and what features and benefits are there for a business to be a part of these service.”
While there are many apps to help promote small businesses to those living nearby, Perch is at the forefront of what looks to be an in-demand service for small businesses. Local businesses have learned to follow competitors on Twitter and Facebook in order to keep up with their social performance, but Perch puts it all in one place, making it easy to study social networking trends in certain neighborhoods.
In addition to segregating businesses by neighborhoods, Perch also allows businesses to group information by type of business. So a car dealership, for instance, could look up all car dealerships in the same area to get an idea of social media presence and current specials.
While this app will likely be very beneficial to small business owners, Perch anticipates marketing companies will be excited to get their hands on it, as well. In addition to helping SMBs keep up with competition, Perch can also be a valuable tool for teaching business owners how to word status updates and Tweets.
Once debuted, Perch will be free to business owners and marketers. Currently the product is still in beta, available only via invitation.
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