SA business service on iPhone

2013-08-14 13:05
The Ledula app is available on the iPhone. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

The Ledula app is available on the iPhone. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - A locally developed platform hopes to showcase small businesses by linking to recommendations on Facebook.

Ledula Services was launched as a website in 2011 and the company uses Facebook recommendations to create opportunities for small enterprises.

Recently, the platform went mobile with the building of an iPhone application and the company explained part of the strategy to produce the app.

"iPhone users make up nearly 60% of the mobile traffic on the Ledula site and many people who have a Blackberry also have an iPad where they can use the app," Ledula Founder, Atholl Tomlinson told News24.

The application connects Facebook users to those seeking work done in homes on the basis that people trust the recommendations of users on the social network.

Relationships

"Typical Facebook users only accept friend requests from people that they know in the real world.  If you have been in somebody's house you have a good feel for how much trust to put in their home service provider recommendations," said Tomlinson.

He added that online-only friends who may not have the same relationship as "real-world" friends are not likely to make recommendations on the platform.

"Users with Facebook friends they don’t really know aren't likely to make use of their recommendations, which is why Ledula shows you which friends recommended which service provider."

With the advent of social networking, many companies have been racing to produce adverts for their products and services, but Ledula's unique proposition may have a greater effect.

"You can decide how much credibility to put in the recommendation based on how well you know the person giving the recommendation.  This isn't perfect but is much better than a recommendation from a complete stranger, or an advertisement," Tomlinson said.

The app lists over 80 categories of service businesses and integrates with the user's Facebook profile.

Smartphone penetration

The company insists that no personal user information will be shared with third parties.

"No user or service provider can see any user data.  We don't store any login information, as we use Facebook's infrastructure," said Tomlinson.

It is estimated that some 60% of small businesses are not online especially given that smartphone penetration is SA is relatively low.

Despite this though, Tomlinson said that as long as the users were online, they could still recommend a small business.

"As long as their clients are online, the service provider doesn't need to be online to benefit from Ledula.  Most small businesses use word of mouth as their only form of marketing."

The company plans to release an Android application within weeks as well as expansion into New Zealand.


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