Review – Join2Grow.biz (Part 4)

Review – Join2Grow.biz (Part 4)

Review – Join2Grow.biz (Fortis)
Review – Join2Grow.biz (Part 2): Registration, Profile, Contacts
Review – Join2Grow.biz (Part 3): RSS, Channels, Podcasts, Polls
Review – Join2Grow.biz (Part 4): Conclusion
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GOALS & INTERESTS
* For Fortis
: their goal is to be seen as the prefered financial partner for entepreneurs. This network is a fantastic source of info on their target market, and they leverage it correctly, it is an excellent (and cost-effective!) way to create new products, or enhance the way they do business and support the entrepreneurs.
* For Entrepreneurs: their goal is not as obvious as Fortis… Indeed, time is money, and I see a problem:
-> What if I am already a member of the excellent Linkedin or Xing, two bigger and more international networks, with members from all industries and backgrounds where I can find potential clients, business partners, suppliers, distributors, prospects, where I can recruit my future managers…
-> What it I also belong to some local and very active business associations such as NBI…
Why would I invest (again) my precious time on this new platform?
What would made me visit the website on regular basis? (quality of the members?, Useful resources?, Rich content?, Business opportunities?, Fame?…)

Nb: Launching a new social network to create a community around its key market, or around its products is a very good idea, and if successful, it could lead to a significant increase of market share.
But it is hard work, especially with big, well-known, generalists networks such as MySpace… For example, Google helped Nike design its soccer community site, called Joga.com, but it does not appear to have significantly attracted users.

CONCLUSION
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!

SUGGESTIONS
1. market their online community
I would create a blog, and have a resource dedicated to monitor the blogosphere and create some buzz (comment other posts, make sure to appear on Google, Technorati and the blog directories…)
Moreover, I couldn’t find no logo or link for Join2Grow on Fortis Merchant Banking’s homepage: did I miss it?

2. reach a critical mass of members
You are not really urged to invite more people. Contrary to Linkedin, there is no ranking in terms of nb of connexions, no incentive to grow your network.
Fortis could think of special offers/incentives to identify the best champions: they could to promote a company or a service, or broadcast a commercial.
Also, they should promote the members with the more contacts and display a ranking of the “top networkers”.

3. engage their members, encourage them to post
They should organize frequent competitions (entrepreneurs like competing) to post the most useful article on a topic, or the best advice.
They should proactively look for members willing to be interviewed.

4. involve them, ask for suggestions
They should ask their memberfor suggestions (new section, better display, new channel, missing communication feature…)
Again, they could organize a competition to reward the most useful/most creative idea.

5. enhance the platform accordingly, differentiate themselves
Create a financial advisory section: “Ask Fortis experts a question?” to create trust, confidence, and build profitable long term relationships.
Organize offline meetings, recruit moderators, identify a few champions… Follow Xing example!

Nb: Online networking is a fantastic creator of opportunities, but nothing will ever replace a good handshake, and face to face meetings!

6. become one of the most valuable resources for european entrepreneurs
They should create a link/resource section like a directory of useful resources for entrepreneurs. (a public page with limited info, which could be referred on del.icio.us, and urging you to register to access the full info)

Other remarks & ideas
Fortis obviously want their members to use their proprietary interface to communicate (like the old AOL walled garden) They don’t give access to the contact details.
They should catagorize and differentiate comments and questions, and ask their members to rate how useful the comments/questions are (like online communities do, such as ebay or tripadvisor…)
Categorize your surveys, add some content from specialized websites. Add an event section, a calendar.

Fine tune the profiles: find the right balance between social & business
I think they put too much focus on hobbies and personal info. It looks “too social”, and the search features aren’t satisfying.

Previous articleReview - Join2Grow.biz (Part 3)
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Based in London, Christophe is an entertaining social media keynote speaker and a trusted advisor to the global financial services industry on the topics of social media, social business and digital innovation. Christophe has contributed to over 140 events in 18 countries. Currently, Christophe is 'Social Media Senior Managing Consultant' at IBM Interactive Experience. He's also a Digital Advisor at the Financial Services Forum and the Moller Centre (part of the Churchill College in Cambridge). Christophe's views on VisibleBanking.com are his own, not necessarily his employer's.

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