WHEN SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES like Facebook and Twitter reached a critical mass of users, business owners saw dollar signs.
The sites not only allowed owners to reach hundreds of existing and potential customers, they provided a fun – and free – way for owners to communicate with customers. Still, figuring out whether a company’s social networking efforts are working has been tough, especially since there isn’t an exact science to measure the results.
While such practices may cause some privacy advocates to chafe, Straley says that the information he tabulates for companies is dense enough to be useful but lacks personally identifiable traits. He declines to disclose his year-old company’s revenue information, but projects that Meteor Solutions will turn a profit in the first quarter of 2010.
SmartMoney asked Straley about the ups and downs of his Internet software firm. Here are his condensed answers.
How has social networking changed the online advertising model?
If you’re like me, more and more of the information that you consume finds its way to you through Twitter and links in an email message. Instead of spending time looking for stuff online, you’re spending more time responding to information that is being returned to you. That is a fundamental shift. Basically, marketers can’t just rely on people to come to their sites. Instead, they have to create content that users can link to and share with everyone they know.
Business: Meteor Solutions, an Internet software firm.
Year founded: 2009
Number of employees: 10
Web address: meteorsolutions.com
Why is it important to track how customers use the web?
According to our research, an average of 15% to 20% of our clients’ online traffic stems from shared links. What’s more, 20% of those consumers are more likely to convert — buy the product, sign up for service or register for a newsletter — than those heading to the sites via paid advertisements. The whole idea behind tracking users is to devote resources more efficiently. Owners can spend more time on programs that work, as well as potentially reward those who send links.
What is your background?
I started out in Seattle working for Starwave, a software firm launched by Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft. After Walt Disney acquired the company in 1998, I went on to get my master’s degree in business administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. From there, I started an agency here in town. After three years, the company combined with another firm to create Meteor Solutions.