Typically, a social media manager costs $60K or more. Considering that small businesses do not generally have such funds, Ripl provides a year-round, 24/7 affordable social media tool that enables small businesses to develop an impactful social media presence.
Clay McDaniel Recently discussed his company via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): When did you get interested in working with technology and media and how did you come up with the idea for Ripl?
Clay McDaniel (CM): I’ve been working at the intersection of technology, media, and marketing for most of the last 20 years. While I didn’t develop the original idea for Ripl, I had worked previously with the company founder and a couple of the early employees, and immediately found the mission of helping small businesses “punch above their weight” on social media for their marketing programs inspiring.
MM: How difficult was it to design the software and programming that makes Ripl run?
CM: All of the software that Ripl has built is completely proprietary — we built it all, 100%, from the ground up! It took about 1 year from building the original concept and back-end + front-end of the first iOS app to get it all up and running. After that, it took about 4 months to build the first Android mobile app and then 5-6 months to build the Ripl browser-based Web app. I’d say in fairness it was a really small development and engineering team, including the company’s founder who is a really talented software coder, so that’s pretty speedy to stand up the core infrastructure and all 3 apps.
MM: How did you introduce this project to small companies and what fields do they operate within?
CM: From the start, the goal was to get the two mobile apps — for Apple devices and Android devices — listed in the app stores and see what kind of initial demand or desire there was for the value prop. After several months of watching the iOS app grow in terms of downloads and adoption and usage on its own, we started to spend some money on direct-advertising through Google search keyword terms and with targeted Facebook ads. As we gained more and more customers, we were able to re-invest more of those monthly subscription fees back into more ads and expanding our marketing team and efforts. Our customers are small businesses and non-profits of all different types and stripes and categories. We have more than 65,000 paying Ripl customers today in more than 100 countries around the world, so almost every different type of small business and community-based organization is represented in the customer group somewhere. The biggest groups of our Ripl customers, though, tend to be real estate agents, professional and personal services providers, main street retailers, and restaurants and cafes. But we have it all — dog groomers, tax accountants, hair stylists, jewelry makers, you name it….
MM: What are the best results you’ve seen Ripl produce for businesses?
CM: The best results we’ve seen are when Ripl customers use our software to make branded posts and videos and share them every single day. When small businesses take a “one and done” approach maybe a couple times per month on social media, it just doesn’t really fly. Social media is just that — social. To be valuable and relevant to their customers, whether it’s a cool coffee shop or a dry cleaner or whatever, small business operators need to give quick updates often about what’s happening. It shouldn’t just be promotional or marketing oriented either. When small businesses post consistent, branded, and good-looking pics and videos every day, over time they can grow their Follower base 5 or 10-fold, and really grow their engagements and comments and love too.
MM: What are your personal favorite features offered?
CM: I’m a big believer in our Post Scheduler — it makes it simple for a busy, on-the-go small business owner to queue up 3 or 4 quick video posts for the next few days ahead all at once when they have 5 or 10 minutes free. I also like the feature in our app that allows you to change from square to upright / “portrait” aspect ratio with one click. You can make posts for all your social regular feeds in square layout, save that, then switch to the upright layout perfect for Facebook and Instagram Stories in just a few seconds.
MM: How do you envision Ripl evolving and expanding in the future?
CM: Our biggest update is coming in the weeks ahead, and will include a new Facebook and Instagram Ads tool in the Web app. When it’s available, this will allow anyone to use the power of targeted digital ads using Ripl’s animated and engaging videos, in addition to being able to share their posts to their free feeds as they already can. This is going to be a big leap forward in our value to customers, because Facebook and Instagram Ads are simply the most cost-efficient way to get a bigger target audience to be guaranteed to see your posts and generated clicks, phone calls, and foot traffic for your business. Beyond that, we’re planning to expand our publishing integrations to more social media platforms in the future as well.
MM: What projects are coming up for you soon and is there anything else that you would like to discuss?
CM: Our main focus is on staying close to the unique needs and mentality of the very smallest businesses out there. If there is one thing that the COVID19 pandemic has shown us, it is how vital and valuable all of the small businesses in our community are to our well-being. There’s never been a bigger challenge to all of these small business owners in our lifetimes than what the last year and a half has thrown at them. So, we’re staying really focused on staying in touch with our customers, doing lots of call-downs and surveys and reaching out to talk to as many of them as we can.