Oodle and Others Add New Social Tools for Distribution and WOM

Classifieds site Oodle is the latest among local listings sites to integrate additional social tools such as Facebook Connect and Twitter capabilities. The trend is not surprising considering the surge in usage of these social sites, and the desire for other sites to glom on to that popularity.

Yesterday, Oodle announced it now allows its users to publish listings on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. By enabling connecting applications for the social sites, Oodle argues potential buyers will get a clearer sense of who the sellers are.

Oodle also suggests buyers use the social connections to easily ask friends what they think of a product offering or real estate listing, and share the listing in their feeds. For instance, someone considering taking a free English bulldog from a breeder can click to connect with Facebook and ask their friends what they think of the idea, along with automatically linking to the listing.

“There’s huge additional potential distribution from the [social] sites,” said local media analyst and consultant Greg Sterling. “Everybody is trying to leverage the audiences that these sites have developed in one way or another,” he added.

Local business listings site and services firm MerchantCircle also enables Facebook Connect, allowing its small business members to notify Facebook friends when they’ve created a coupon or recommended another merchant. In addition to its own internal social tools, which let merchants and customers “friend” and “follow” one another within the MerchantCircle site, the firm also has Twitter accounts notifying followers when new coupons are created for businesses in a particular city.

Another big player in the local business listings space, Citysearch, also recently added new social functionality. The company was among the first to integrate Facebook Connect on its pages over a year ago, and more recently in December enabled business owners to connect their Twitter feeds to their Citysearch profiles.

The company’s city editors are also posting to city-specific Twitter accounts. For instance, on the Citysearch Atlanta Twitter account, city editor Jonathan Baker recently posted, “Went back to Ormsby’s last night for dinner, review coming soon. Tonight they have the 1980’s classic on special: Prime Rib. Hell ya.”

The trend is part of a broader one touching all sorts of sites, from recipe sites to portals like Yahoo and MSN. However, integrating social tools on local sites can have a special purpose in that it facilitates the word of mouth discussions that help small businesses build clientele.

“Most of the business of a lot of these small merchants comes from word of mouth,” said Sterling. “So these social tools are kind of a version of that, and there is kind of a connection between social media and local” in driving new customers to these local businesses, he continued.

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