Bring Your Social Networks to Your Service Business

Adam DuVander
Apr. 07 2011, 12:00AM EDT

Any business that relies on personal connections, such as real estate or accounting, is perfectly poised to capitalize on social media. Yet these industries, which some might characterize as "old school," have not fully embraced the popular networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. SocialBios helps any company provide its potential customers with a way to find connections to the people within the company by using social APIs.

SocialBios example: Telluride Properties

When users visit a real estate brokerage in search of an agent, the company can use SocialBios to provide a way to sort the potential agents by social connections. A user authenticates with one or more social networks, then mutual friends and interests determine which agent shows up on top. "All we're doing is showing what's already there," Founder Ernie Graham said. "We're forced to start ranking that."

And that's exactly what happens on group pages, such as the real estate example above. The agents join SocialBios, as anyone can, creating a profile page aggregated from as many networks as they connect. Then, an administrator adds them to a group page, which can be embedded into a page on a company's site or accessed directly on SocialBios.

"It's amazing how a probable stranger can find someone with whom they have material social capital," Graham said. Graham has used the Telluride Properties page to demo the service for some time, flying blind as he lets the stranger connect to the various services. More often than not, Graham said, the person had matches with someone from this real estate company in a small, remote Colorado city.

There is a big difference between working with a stranger and someone with whom you have something in common--yes, even if that something happens to be that their friend went to the same school as you. That's the power that these social networks bring to service businesses.

SocialBios Facebook example

The recent move to iframes and away from FBML made it easier for SocialBios to take its app to Facebook, powering the "about us" tabs on Facebook company pages, such as the this page. Since a user is already authenticated on Facebook, the connection to one's Facebook friends is implicit, but users are still given the chance to connect to additional networks.

Now SocialBios is also using its technology, both on Facebook and on its own site, to connect companies to job seekers. Once you know your connection to a company, you know who to contact to request a referral. This personal connection, much as it helps in finding a real estate agent, is better for the company and the job seeker (as well as the referrer, who usually gets referral fee).

As Graham noted, the data is right there. The APIs help expose it and help connect you to your customers, job candidates or future real estate agents.

Adam DuVander Hi! I'm Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and former Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor. If you have API news, or are interested in writing for ProgrammableWeb, please contact editor@programmableweb.com Though I'm a fan of anything API-related, my particular interest is in mapping. I've published a how-to book, Map Scripting 101, to get anyone started making maps on websites. In a not-so-distant past life I wrote for Wired and Webmonkey.

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