Cutting Thru the SMB Tech Vendor Hype

There is obviously a lot of hype in the SMB tech vendor and services space. “Hating” companies such as Groupon and Yelp is considered the conventional wisdom. On the other hand, it is widely assumed that other companies, such as Facebook, are considered something of a God-send. But what do SMBs actually say about the tech vendors and services they work with?

That’s the challenge taken on by former Constant Contact executive Eric Groves with Alignable, a “social network for SMB owners.” Alignable has been surveying SMB owners, and has garnered a quorum of comments and start-based ratings (i.e. 1-5) on more than 100 tech vendors and services, from Angie’s List to Thumbtack. The feedback – all won virally — has come from 15,000 SMBs in 14,000 communities.

These results provide a good “BS detector” and are generally reflective of brand sentiment, says Groves. He adds that they also may be more balanced than other tools, such as Net Performance Scores that may have been captured immediately after transactions.

Top 10 Trust SMB Brands

1. Amazon
2. Wordpress
3. Google
4. Mailchimp
6. Instagram
7. FedEx
8. Square
9. PayPal
10. LinkedIn

Source: SMB Trust Index

At the same time, Groves emphasizes that they are not meant to be the only data into account when calculating brand sentiment. Rather, they might be considered a “new set of industry data highlighting the sentiment across SMB social media,” he says. They are basically early warning systems about what SMBs like most, as well as the problems they face.

It is useful, for instance, to read about issues that Thumbtack is having with fake job postings. The service receives a negative rating on this month’s Trust Index because of it, although it is rapidly growing and generally popular among SMBs. As more reviews come in, however, ratings base on the outliers should begin to flatten out.

In the short-term, Groves says that Alignable is focused on building out its user base and feedback. It isn’t immediately focused on monetization. But Groves notes the ratings and reviews result in “tons of unstructured data” that can probably be applied down the road for a variety of purposes (media planning, marketing, customer support etc.)

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