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Directories Start Getting More Social

B2B (business-to-business) directories have long served as guides to suppliers, but now they're starting to look more like social networks with user-generated content and ratings from customers. It becomes part of a bigger effort to combine tactical with shared information.

During the past few years it has become easier to pull data from sites across the web, turning information into a commodity. It means businesses must differentiate themselves through customer service, excellent ratings, as well as demonstrate strong ethics. It's about data transparency and working with marquee suppliers and clients, build clout, or rather Klout, which measures a person's influence across the web. Odds are good that we will soon see a similar tool for businesses, which will need to build loyalty and trust to increase their satisfaction score.

Some companies have begun to build these tools into business directories, helping procurement experts make better decisions when building approved vendor and raw material lists. Yahoo Small Business, upstart business directory FindTheCompany, and others have begun to tweak their respective models to help businesses supporting other businesses get more social by boosting ratings and recommendations.

Yahoo Small Business LocalWorks offers a rating system that gives clients a snapshot of what others think about the business. FindTheCompany provides a free online research tool providing opinions about companies.

Social business ratings
Businesses make data available in public records through an API (application programming interface). But before handing over millions of dollars for short- or long-term projects, read the customer comments. Courting and conversations offer some insights, but candid recommendations and reviews provide more. FindTheCompany began offering what Alex Rosenberg, director of new products, calls “objective” by pulling in sentiment from experts across the web with ratings and reviews on its site.

Dubbed as a Kayak for business, FindTheCompany offers lists of technology suppliers; customer relationships; financial value of contracts; effective and completion dates for projects; and main government contracts and suppliers. Tools rate the company, as well as each product based on data from across the web and comments left on the site.

The site filters and sorts through 1,000 categories by sales volume, income statements, balance sheets, cash flow, company type, initial public offerings, number of employees, executive compensation, H-1B Visas, and more.

Click on “H-1B Visa,” and you learn that the US government certified 1,350 out of 1,409 Google applications. The average salary for the job positions Google applied to hire foreign workers was $129,311, about 104.4 percent higher than the average for all H-1B Visas. The majority of these employees develop software at an average annual salary of $123,261.

In the near future, a database will categorize lists of manufacturing suppliers, bill of raw materials, names of offshore manufacturers and suppliers, and more. Rosenberg said it will help procurement experts visualize and understand supply-chain roadmaps of companies they may want to work with.

In the meantime, data from more than a dozen sources, from public records to Dunn & Bradstreet, becomes available making information searchable to anyone looking for information on the 32 million US-based companies.

Mineable data goes beyond what's available on sites like Manta, which focuses on small and midsized businesses, or Cruchbase for startups. Hopefully, FindTheCompany CEO Kevin O'Connor will keep building on global services.

Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp, known for their social, sharing, and commenting features, will change the way businesses do business with other businesses in directories. For procurement specialists, recommendations should merely scrape the surface when it comes to researching prospective partners.

What data or tools would you like to see? Tell us below.

12 comments on “Directories Start Getting More Social

  1. ahdand
    July 9, 2013

    What I feel about getting social for corporate sector is good if they handle it in a professional manner. Things will not be easy since you do not have an option of restricting to a set of professionals. Maybe in the future it might be possible

  2. Daniel
    July 9, 2013

    “B2B (business-to-business) directories have long served as guides to suppliers, but now they're starting to look more like social networks with user-generated content and ratings from customers. It becomes part of a bigger effort to combine tactical with shared information.”

    Laurie, customer attention is important for any business. So to grab their attention and involvements, social medias can play a vital role. That's the reason most of the companies have their own presents/pages in social media networks

  3. Daniel
    July 9, 2013

    'What I feel about getting social for corporate sector is good if they handle it in a professional manner. Things will not be easy since you do not have an option of restricting to a set of professionals. Maybe in the future it might be possible”

    Nimantha, you are right to an extent. Social medias can spoil the name too, so dedicated staff to monitor and remove unwanted comments or dialogues are very much required. I mean a vigil over the page

  4. Laurie Sullivan
    July 10, 2013

    Nimantha, most consumer-facing companies have a dedicated person to monitor social chatter, but I think electronics manufacturer suppliers could learn from that business model. I find some of the new offerings from directories very interesting, such as the ability to research a company's workforce and average pay, or list of contract manufacturers and components used in products. 

  5. Suzanne.Deffree
    July 10, 2013

    Trends shows more and more professionals joining social spaces like Facebook and Yelp, commenting and participating in such a way that makes the spaces more and more professional than purely social spaces. If properly watched and perhaps mined, such spaces could offer valubale information for the electronics supply chain.  

  6. Ashu001
    July 11, 2013

    Suzanne,

    Are you sure that these spaces are'nt already being mined for this information?

    After I heard that the NSA has a backdoor in each and every Android phone Globally I just find difficult to trust/believe that my online information is'nt being scanned  by Commercial Interests (or worse) for their suitable needs.

    More Here

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-07-03/security-enhanced-android-nsa-edition

     

    Regards

    Ashish.

  7. FLYINGSCOT
    July 11, 2013

    I would like to see real time feedback about what people think of our company and products and what we could do to improve.  This could be an invaluable tool.

  8. elctrnx_lyf
    July 14, 2013

    Real time feedback would be helpful to any company to understand the feedback from customers. But all the companies may not be ready to publish their negative feedback online since it could cause more harm than good to any company.

  9. Daniel
    July 15, 2013

    Suzanna, there is no doubt that more and more professionals are joining or using social networking sites. But that's only to share their personal things and circle building. In many cases I had seen that the numbers of likes in Facebook pages for individuals are more than that of corporates.

  10. Suzanne.Deffree
    July 15, 2013

    @Jacob, I agree that in some cases, numbers are higher for specific individuals than for corporate Facebook pages, but that's not always true. As example, EBN's Facebook page has 2760 “likes,” a far larger number than any of its editors' personal Facebook friends counts. I would also argue while there is still an abundance of personal social information shared over the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and other such social sites, savvy individuals have begun using the platform to network with peers and to help support their own personal and corporate brands. However, it's all subjective with neither argument offering a hard and fast rule. Social remains an evolving platform with an evolving and expanding user base.

  11. Daniel
    July 16, 2013

    “EBN's Facebook page has 2760 “likes,” a far larger number than any of its editors' personal Facebook friends counts.”

    Susan, great when it will touch 10,000? There is no doubt that social medias are playing vital roles in promotion and spreading the word of communication.

  12. SunitaT
    August 1, 2013

    The Social Business Rating System (SBRS) is a patented system developed exclusively by 40Billion.com to rate trades based on criteria that really matter for success, rather than customary credit scores. A unique SBRS score is created for each business venture's fundraising profile, and the score is based on 17 or more standards, including business-related success measures, entrepreneurial profile, peer ratings, and reviews.

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