Postling is a tool small businesses can use to market, listen, and respond to their customers using social media. It launched on August 1, 2009 and recently broke 10,000 users. I talked with Alexis Lamster, Vice President of Customers, about what Postling has accomplished, what it hopes to accomplish, and why small businesses are their main target customer.
1.) Who is your target customer?
We strictly target small businesses. We are extremely passionate about small business and we really feel we are the only ones with this kind of platform who is targeting the smaller companies. We have a few customers who aren’t small businesses, but we try to be very, very small business focused.
2.) How do most people use the tool?
There are different ways people can use it. They can hook up Twitter, Facebook, and their blog so they can post to all platforms at once and have one spot to respond to all the comments.
And then anyone who has a premium membership can track Yelp and Citysearch reviews and post them to their social networks. We also have real-time web tracking. So for example, a cupcake shop can search all the entire web for any phrase. If they decide to track the phrase “great cupcake” and run across someone who is asking for a great cupcake place, they can reply to them.
The last way is our newly-launched RSS feed tracking. You can plug in all of the RSS feeds you want, and you can re-post anything you see to your social media accounts straight from Postling. It takes all the information that you find and curates out to your followers what you think is interesting and important.
3.) How does Postling itself use social media?
Postling is on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and all our employees have social media accounts as well. We are all really plugged in, reading things, and talking to people.
We try to be a really heavy feedback company. We use social media to talk with customers, find out if they have a feature they are looking for, etc.
4.) What else does Postling do to promote itself?
We organize Sidewalk Collective. This is a series of events in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco. We get a sponsor, find a venue, and choose a small business and a topic. An example would be: how to create a cult following using social media. We have the business speak on what is working for them and how they got where they are. We invite other small business to attend and ask questions about social media. But we do not use these events to push our product; we instead try to foster discussion.
5.) What has the feedback to Postling been?
I’ve been with company for 8 or 9 months and a lot of the feedback I’ve gotten is generally along the lines of, we’re the only ones out there who are looking out for the small business. We price our premium package on a level that small businesses can handle — $24.99 a month — which is on par with the cost of Constant Contact.
6.) What are the benefits of the premium package?
Our regular membership allows you to still publish in the smart workflow to all of your social media accounts, schedule posts to publish in the future, and respond to all of your comments. Postling Premium allows you to manage extra brands to organize your social media accounts, in addition to web-tracking, Yelp and CitySearch reviews, and RSS feed tracking. One of our customers is a restaurant in California that has 3 different locations, so they hook up their Citysearch reviews and Yelp separately and track progress by each location.
7.) What’s on the horizon for Postling?
A big thing we are working on is a combination of analytics and suggestions. What we envision is a way for small businesses to get a handle on how they’re doing with social media and to help guide them in ways that can help them get better. Our overall goal is to get businesses to engage and participate in the conversation with their customers. We hope these additions will be in a few months.
8.) Why do you think social media is so important for small businesses?
Social media gives small business such an advantage because they can attach a personality to it. If you’re a bakery around the corner, you have such an opportunity to reach out and brand your company. It gives you the chance to reach out to your customers, making connections, and show you’re part of the community.
9.) Thanks so much for talking with me. Anything else to add?
I just wanted to mention that we also send you a daily email every morning with a round up of your activity from the day before. So let’s say you’re a café, every morning we will send you your latest reviews, tracking results, and all your Twitter @replies and comments. So even if you don’t have time to log into Postling you still have a handle of what’s going on.