July 16, 2012, 2:58 PM — "One of the top pain points for small businesses is they know they need to be online, they know they need to be doing social media, but they don't know where to start or they don't have time to manage all these things," says Carl Timm, a group manager for Microsoft who is working on the Brandify team.
How-to: Launch a Business Presence on Twitter
The idea behind Brandify is to give small businesses a starting point to manage social media and search engine optimization (SEO) by providing a list of recommendations to guide them in the right direction and improve online branding efforts.
Brandify recommendations provide step-by-step guidance to help you improve your visibility in search engines and across social sites.
Let's look at how this new service helps small business owners better manage their social presence.
Getting Started with Brandify: Registration, Dashboard and Insights
Brandify accounts are free to create. Log on via Windows Live, Facebook or LinkedIn and claim your business on the site. This will let you access a social status score and obtain recommendations on how to improve your brand online.
Leslie Perovich, vice president of marketing and development for ExplorOcean/Newport Harbor Nautical Museum, has been using the beta version of Brandify and says the social score and recommendations have been a valuable tool for the museum.
"Brandify takes you through a step-by-step process and gives you recommendations so you know exactly what you need to do to link your website and social together," she says.
The basic registration form requires a business name, website URL, ZIP Code and type of business (local business, online business or franchise location). The last step is connecting Brandify with online profiles from places such as LinkedIn, Google Places, Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter. Brandify will automatically locate some profiles; you'll need to manually connect to others.
With registration details provided, Brandify will then research your brand, collect data and provide your social status score in an easy-to-understand dashboard that helps you see what's happening with your brand's social presence and how you can improve it.
To that end, the Brandify dashboard offers real-time insight into how the online activities of your business help or hurt your overall Web presence score. The main features of the dashboard include a real-time activity feed to show what's new with your social brand, a list of recommendations (essentially, a to-do list) to help you improve SEO and social presence, and profiles that display your data as it is discovered on search engines and review sites for local businesses.