SOURCE: MerchantCircle

MerchantCircle

April 13, 2010 09:00 ET

MerchantCircle Broadens Its Answers Network Through New Deals With Answerbag.com and HelloMetro

Partnerships Will Increase Visibility of MerchantCircle Member Expertise Across Multiple Platforms

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwire - April 13, 2010) - MerchantCircle, the nation's largest social network of local business owners, today announced that it has established a new partnership with Answerbag®.com, a popular Q&A community and Demand Media® property, further expanding its relationship with the leader in distributed social media. Through this agreement, questions posted to Answerbag.com will be routed to more than one million members in the MerchantCircle network, and the top responses from merchants on MerchantCircle Answers will be shared with the Answerbag community. As a result, Answerbag users will be able to tap into MerchantCircle's massive network of experts. MerchantCircle members will also realize a broader distribution of their advice around the Web. Launched in September 2009, MerchantCircle Answers has received nearly 80,000 questions resulting in close to 100,000 responses from MerchantCircle members.

"MerchantCircle has deep roots in the small business community, and access to active professionals in every field, from accountants to auto mechanics, who are eager to share their knowledge," said Larry Fitzgibbon, executive vice president of Brands for Demand Media. "By sharing our questions and answers with one another, both consumers and experts mutually benefit."

MerchantCircle has also signed a similar partnership with HelloMetro, a global network of 1500 hyper-local city guides that lets people get to know a city through local articles, history, attractions, real estate, jobs, business listings and more. Through the partnership, consumers will be able to ask questions on more than 1,000 HelloMetro city websites and get answers from local experts they can trust, all powered by MerchantCircle Answers. MerchantCircle will also help HelloMetro business users connect with one another with its social networking system. With both partnerships, MerchantCircle members will receive attribution for their contributions.

"One of the key benefits we saw in aligning with MerchantCircle was the integration of the social networking component for our members," said Clark Scott, CEO of HelloMetro. "Small businesses can gain significant competitive advantages by using social media tools to reach local consumers. MerchantCircle has optimized those tools and made them simple to use for the novice small businesses owner."

"Since launching the Answers feature, we've been improving the algorithm to better match local businesses with local consumers who need their expertise," said Darren Waddell, vice president of marketing for MerchantCircle. "Consumers are seeing the value and responding with more repeat visits. We also want to reward merchants who share their business and trade knowledge with consumers. Now, local merchants who answer questions will receive status points and profile buttons on their MerchantCircle listing, designating them as preferred contributors. We are also now leveraging the Yahoo! Answers API to introduce even more questions to our merchants."

About MerchantCircle

Founded in 2005, MerchantCircle is the largest social network of local business owners in the nation, combining social networking features with a customizable web listing that allows local merchants to attract new customers. More than 15 million MerchantCircle business listings across the country are easily accessed on major search engines. Currently, over 1,000,000 merchants on the MerchantCircle network upload pictures, blog, create coupons and newsletters, and connect with other merchants.

In addition to its free services, MerchantCircle offers a portfolio of online advertising services including Search Engine Marketing, Website Directory Submission, Web Content Creation, Instant Website Development and Business Verification Services. The company is based in Mountain View, Calif., and is funded by Rustic Canyon Partners, Scale Venture Partners, Steamboat Ventures, and IAC. Learn more at www.merchantcircle.com.

About Demand Media

With a comScore Top 20 U.S. network of premium online brands, a breakthrough Internet content studio and an enterprise social media platform deployed on the world's leading digital destinations, Demand Media® makes it possible for more than 100 million people each month to engage in conversations and form passionate communities around relevant content. The privately held company was founded in May 2006 and is based in Santa Monica, CA, with offices in Bellevue, WA, Austin, TX, New York, NY and London, UK. For more information about Demand Media, Inc., please visit: www.demandmedia.com

About HelloMetro

The HelloMetro Global Network of city-focused websites gives users all the information they needto live, visit, work and play in any of the 1,500 HelloMetro communities. With information on hyperlocal news, attractions, real estate, jobs, Yellow Pages, White Pages, local history, and local resources, the online guides are uniquely dedicated to the cities they serve. For example: www.HelloAtlanta.com, www.HelloSanFrancisco.com, www.HelloDenver.com and www.HelloLouisville.com.

© 2010 Demand Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

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