I first came across DemandForce because it was popping up in Google Maps a couple of years ago. DemandForce was started in 2003 by Rick Berry and Sam Osman to help dentists and auto shops market themselves online. Today, with more than 7,000 clients across a variety of local service verticals, it is a fast-growing local SMB software service company located in the Bay Area. I caught up with Bonnie Wang, DF’s manager of professional services, at SMX West today to get an idea of DemandForce Connect For Facebook, its recently launched social media service.
DF has three apps that help customers generate more demand from Facebook. People can request an appointment via the SMB’s Facebook page with DF’s Easy Scheduler app. Once a customer makes an appointment, it shows up in the SMB’s DemandForce dashboard and will show the source of the lead. Currently more than 1,000 DF clients are using this app. According to Wang, those businesses that are active on Facebook are seeing the greatest use of the app by customers.
Early on DemandForce launched a review generation system to help clients solicit reviews from customers. The new Easy Reviews app allows DF clients to pipe their customer reviews from the DemandForce business profile into the clients’ Facebook page in real time. This creates a more compelling Facebook page for the business syncs up nicely with the scheduling app. According to Wang, DF currently has about 600,000 reviews in its system. Currently approximately 1,400 DF customers are displaying DF reviews on Facebook since the product launch two months ago.
Easy Coupon is DF’s coupon creator, which also publishes directly to the business’ Facebook page. Customers can redeem the coupon by setting up an appointment with the Scheduling app so there’s less breakage in the coupon redemption process.
Anecdotally, Wang says that some of the early users of these new apps have seen enough new business to pay for DF’s services for an entire year.
DF customers can install the apps on their Facebook pages for free. For those businesses that don’t have a Facebook page, DF is currently testing a $499 premium package to set up the apps, which includes setting up a business’ Facebook page and a social media consultation. If the business already has a Facebook page, it’s $299 to have DF install the apps for you.
DemandForce combines the scheduling features of services like Genbook with the review generation of services like CustomerLobby and ports them over to Facebook. I fully expect this sort of model to continue to proliferate in the SMB space. Over the next year we will see a variety of companies competing to be the layer between SMBs and Facebook, much like the IYPs and local SEM agencies sought to be the layer between Google and SMBs. It will be interesting to see how services like these figure into the puzzle that is local online marketing over the coming year, and how Facebook deals with an ever-expanding, complicated ecosystem that gets between it and its customers. For now, I fully expect services like DemandForce and its ilk to flourish by making Facebook easier for SMBs.