LIL 2013: Social Drives New Breed of Service Leads

The old model of pay per leads that had driven the success of ServiceMagic and other home and trade oriented service companies is shifting as social media makes its impact.

Speaking at Leading in Local 2013 in Boston March 19, Home Advisor CEO Chris Terrill discussed how the company, formerly ServiceMagic, has taken social media into account as it has rebranded.

He noted that smart phones have changed everything. They are a set of “life tools” compared to the old days where ServiceMagic was content to be an anchored exploration portal.

Home Advisor has to rely on its own ability to drive consumers, Terrill added. “We can’t rely on Google; we can’t rely on Apple. Consumers are seeking unique brands for their specific needs.”

He also noted that the company had to decide whether to be more generalist or more focused. We decided to narrow the focus and get rid of things not critical to home repair, maintenance and improvement.

The Washington Post Co’s Tim Condon said The Post saw similar opportunities when it launched Service Alley in January 2011. Condon said the effort is heavily focused on creating a proxy social network for service recommendations.

The largest driver of service leads is word of mouth, he said. “Do you need (your own) social network) to help? You don’t,” he says. It is like movie reviews. It doesn’t have to be your own group of friends.

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