I don’t think any of us could have predicted how integral Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Digg or other social media sites would be for a company’s marketing strategy. As a former employee of a high-tech startup, I’m always in awe of the creativity that forward-thinking young entrepreneurs pour into new ventures. And because I’m a small business owner, I’m always interested in learning about new companies that could affect how I market my business.
A great way to keep up with everything is through TechCrunch. Last month, they hosted their second TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. At the conference, 25 startups (out of nearly 1,000 applicants) were given the opportunity to pitch ideas and applications. TechCrunch started out as a blog in 2005 and has grown quickly to become a leading technology media property. They profile startups, review new Internet products, and break tech news. And they do a great job at it—TechCrunch reaches over 10 million unique visitors and draws more than 33 million page views per month.
Here’s a rundown on 7 startups that appeared at the conference that could affect small business’ marketing strategies:
Badgeville: They make it easy for web publishers, media sites, communities, marketers, and brands to increase user loyalty and engagement. The Badgeville Platform rips a page from game play to create highly engaging web experiences that achieve specific business goals and measure and optimize user engagement.
Gifi: Gifi combines the Venmo and Foursquare APIs into a fun, location based game involving real money. By hiding money for one of your friends to claim at a new restaurant, for example, recommending a favorite dish becomes a social game. Gifi provides local merchants a dead simple way for restaurants to deliver rewards to frequent/valued customers. Every time a customer redeems a reward, the merchant gets valuable exposure in the social activity feeds of their customers’ friends.
Gripe: Gripe is a free location-aware mobile app that uses the power of word-of-mouth to share complaints or cheers about any business or service provider. Like Yelp, this could become a tool for businesses small and large.
OneTrueFan: OneTrueFan is a browser add-on that enables users to see who else has viewed and shared the pages they read on websites. Users earn points for engagement (visiting regularly, reading new content, sharing links and driving traffic) and can compete to be the biggest fan of a site. It enables companies to develop deeper engagement with regular readers, encouraging them to visit and share content even more often.
Storify: I see a lot of marketing potential with this company. They allow you to turn what people post on social media into compelling stories. You collect the best photos, video, Tweets and more to publish them as simple, beautiful stories that can be embedded anywhere. Use it for conferences, in-store events, new product launches, etc.
Sumazi: Named as the “startup most likely to change the world” at TechCrunch Disrupt, Sumazi is an intelligent connection engine and network for professionals that introduces you to the people you don’t know but should. Their goal is to be the world’s Super Connector by building web and mobile services that connect you to the people who can change your world.
Tello: Another spin on Yelp, Tello provides a way for consumers to quickly provide businesses with direct feedback on their customer service experiences via their mobile phone. Businesses can use the feedback to reward employees or to rethink their customer service. Tello will aggregate customer service experiences from other social media sites and allow businesses to compare themselves to their competitors.Google+