Yesterday, I received an email fromJoin2Grow, the social network for European Entrepreneurs launched by Fortis in February 2007.
Today, they will launch the phase 2 of Join2Grow.
I joined the network back in March 2007 to review the interface.
Please find below my initial conclusions:
First, I want to salute this initiative again: it is great to see a bank having a go at social networking! But Fortis need to do it right. If they want their new venture to be a success, they need to:
1. market their online community
2. reach a critical mass of members
3. engage their members, encourage them to post
4. involve them, ask for suggestions
5. enhance the platform accordingly, differentiate themselves
6. become one of the most valuable resources for european entrepreneurs
Fortis had some good ideas, but they need to improve the platform, organize all the valuable information, urge their members to contribute, and especially create more value for them!
I also shared my suggestions and ideas.
I must admit I haven´t been using the service since then.
Yesterday, I checked their Entrepreneur magazine section to find out that at the end of June they posted an article to introduce their phase 2 and ask their members for feedback and suggestions.
This is a good initiative: if you really want to improve your platform or your services, ask your members and your clients! The more involved they are, the more successful your redesign.
* First, I didn´t receive any notification: no email push to my personal address, not even an email to my mailbox on Join2Grow… How can they receive enough feedback if their members are not aware of their initiative?
* “we are asking all our visitors for feedback”… I assume they meant members, not visitors.
* Did they have only 1700 members after 4 months of service? (“now 1700 strong and rising”) I would love to better understand Fortis key goal and expectations for their platform (nb of active members? Key milestones with timeframe?)
* They will launch the new service today, Tuesday 24th July. It took them less than a month to gather customer feedback, use those feedback, implement the best ideas, and release the improved platform?
New features and my comments to the Join2Grow team
They claim that “they have updated the layout and design, and they are in the process of adding a host of new features”. It is 11:11pm in France and the platform hasn’t changed yet…
* LIVE VIDEO CONFERENCES with well-known entrepreneurs
You seem very proud with that live video service. Did your member identify live video as the main feature missing on your platform? I would be quite surprised…
* ON-LINE CHAT
* IMPROVED NETWORK SEARCH OPTIONS that allow you to search according to a variety of categories, including location, type of business, interests
* E-MAIL NOTIFICATIONS of the latest content about he subjects that interest you
That’s good news. It is critical to notify your members via email. And please, insist on the “call to action”: urge them to share their comments or post some new content on your platform.
* ENHANCED COMPANY PROFILE that presents much more detailed information, giving you the opportunity to effectively promote your business
* NEWSLETTER summarizing recently-posted articles and alerting you to what’s new on the site
We’ll also be introducing more improvements and new features, such as member-created forums, in the near future. Great, at least some kind ofweb 2.0 features and user generated content! Which kind of technology do you plan to implement? What is your time frame?
We are committed to building the Join2Grow community and making it the most powerful and effective networking tool available for entrepreneurs in Europe. This is a big challenge. A lot of European entrepreneurs already joined very successful, international, online business networks such as Linkedin and Xing (formally openbc)…