ValueVine Brings Location-Based, Review Site Analytics To Franchise Tool

by Jason Falls |

Seattle-based ValueVine, a social media management solution for franchise and multiple-location businesses, this morning launched a powerful new version of their tool that expands focus beyond Facebook and Twitter and positions the company as a social media management, engagement and analytics solution. The new product, called ValueVine Connect, has such a wealth of new data and analysis functionality that CEO Neil Crist told me, “This will now be our lead product.”

That’s pretty impressive considering their previous management solution was solid.

ValueVine Connect not only adds Location-Based Services like Foursquare and ratings and review sites like Yelp to its management console, it completely turns the service around and presents a more complete analytics picture in its dashboard. There, you not only see a more complete picture of your business’s social outpost pages, even ones you may not have been thinking of before like CityGuide, but you have analytics around them that give you insights into each within location and geographic context.

Valuevine Connect Screen CaptureThe product stems from ValueVine’s Social Footprint Report, a free analysis anyone can run on their business at http://socialfootprintreport.com. It analyzes the social web for your company or brand name, then spits out a report that tells you how many third-party webpages (Yelp, Foursquare, CityGuide, etc.) are talking about your business. Take the thinking farther … spitting back an analysis and management access to respond and engage on each of those pages … and you’ve got the core of Connect.

“We looked at a brand like Emerald City Smoothie, which is a client, and discovered they had 60 locations, but 212 sites dedicated to them and reviews of their stores,” Crist said. “That kind of volume means brand managers and marketing staff may just give up. They won’t try to manage it all. It’s a huge blind spot.

“They need a tool that aggregates, monitors, provides sentiment trending, alerts and visibility so the information on all those sites is actionable and put into a location and geographic context,” he added. “Social media monitoring tools are great, but don’t add the context for franchise and multiple-locations. This does.”

A quick tour of the tool and I, for one, was impressed. A look at some of the Emerald City Smoothie pages showed an interesting spike. When I asked, Crist told me they ran a Groupon that week. Tying all their marketing activities together, then looking at the ValueVine Connect data, you can see correlations that bring more meaningful measurement to a marketing program.

The interface is beautiful and crisp. It includes drill-in maps so you can see store locations in question plotted geographically with their relevant information displayed. Reports can be easily packed off in emails and can include highlights of the brand’s biggest fans, biggest critics and loudest voices, either in aggregate or by location/geographic region.

So you can identify your real influencers, not some dope with a blog who thinks your chicken sandwich is the second coming.

The high-level argument for this tool is in its reporting. Sure, it comes with the hierarchy and permissions needed in a franchise and multiple-location business management solution. But the ability to aggregate and see your true social footprint is powerful. The practical argument for the tool is that you can identify the three people in Oklahoma City who check in and review your menu items the most, then deliver a personalized coupon or deal through social channels that will blow them away.

With that level of product, you’d expect a hefty price tag, right? You may want to sit down.

With this new product, ValueVine is breaking from the per-location pricing structure of most franchise and enterprise management tools. They are offering the tool to anyone (even a single store business) for $299 per month. And no, that’s not $299 per month, per store. That’s just $299 per month. That includes unlimited users, unlimited locations, segmentation by state and web and e-mail support. The ding on this level of pricing is your data is only refreshed weekly.

Upgrade to the Business PLUS plan and get daily data updates, phone support and a custom segmentation view for $599 per month. For unlimited custom segments, API integration, a dedicated account manager and other bells and whistles, you have to contact ValueVine for special pricing.

Crist reported that 90 percent of their current customers have opted for the immediate switch to the new platform. The others will continue to use the old ValueVine.

The Analysis

This is one of the best combination tools on the market. It does a bit of monitoring, but the focused kind around your brand pages (not the whole web), offers content management solutions for many of the social outposts you can push content to (Facebook, Twitter) and pulls back measurement data that makes your social footprint and activity make sense. Even ValueVine’s nearest competitors don’t offer as far-reaching a footprint.

But there are concerns. Weekly data is crippling in the Now! economy. While medium- and small-multiple location businesses, take Louisville’s Heine Brothers Coffee, will benefit greatly from a single, low price point, if you’re going to pay me with data Tuesday when my customer is pissed today, it doesn’t do me much good.

While their pricing does open up a potential new market for them (I would potentially recommend them as a measurement solution for small- and medium-sized businesses) if they’re going to remain focused on the franchise and multiple-location clientele, they may have undervalued their tool. (I almost choked a little as I wrote that. I like cool things, cheap.)

With any enterprise or large organization tool, I always have concerns about the company’s ability to communicate the practical application throughout the organization. The brand may love this thing, but if the store managers and staff don’t know how to use it, it’s just going to be a social media version of Google Analytics. Yeah, that’s needed, but missing the opportunity to seize and harness what ValueVine Connect can do, can change a company.

The Disclosure

As you know, I am working on some projects with Expion, the company I consider (and did before working with them) the nearest competitor to ValueVine. It is not my job to pick a winner between the two, but to offer as much information about the companies and tools as possible for you to make those decisions.

As you can tell (I hope), my relationship with Expion didn’t cloud my judgement or analysis of ValueVine. But it’s worth noting that technically one could argue some degree of impartiality. Expion has its strengths, which we’ll discuss at a different time. Wearing my industry observer hat for a moment, I am confident in saying ValueVine and Expion are both worthy of consideration if you’re looking for an enterprise/franchise/multiple-location or multiple-division/department management solution, as are similar platforms like Awareness’s Social Media Marketing Hub, Spredfast, Vitrue and more.

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).