Since its launch, Manta has been clear about its place in the fragmenting social media ecosystem. Whereas most networks are person-centric (i.e., Facebook for consumers; LinkedIn for job seekers) and many cater to brand advertisers (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), CEO Pamela Springer reinforced the company’s vision to us: “the largest community for promoting and connecting SMBs.”
True to its word, Manta has unveiled a host of new SMB features through its Social Connections suite that expands on the SEO-rich profile content and Connect SMB forum that it’s known for. Many of the social behaviors and functions that are endemic to personal networks will now be available to local businesses to grow their relationships, vet partners and stay abreast of industry developments.
Expanded member profiles enable business owners to “connect to” other companies, as well as other businesses they’ve worked at, schools and universities they attended and community organizations they belong to. The benefit for SMBs is a deeper view into how they’re connected to fellow Manta members. Connections trigger activity notifications from businesses in their network. Members can also “follow” businesses for up-to-date information.
A second product — Manta Recommendations — enables SMBs to recommend fellow businesses using their member profiles. Recommendations appear on the business profile. Beyond content placement, however, Manta offers distribution and reach through a “Recommendation Widget” that the business can use to stitch the endorsements directly into a website or blog.
The underlying motivation for all this new functionality was driven home by a recent Manta survey of SMB owners that revealed that 55 percent of business owners point to referrals as “giving them the biggest boost in business.” This distanced all other options — including networking at events and social media networking on Facebook and LinkedIn — by a wide margin. Here, Manta is adding well-known social actions to enhance the digital referral network that SMBs already rely on.