Imagine you're a Small Business Network.
You know the sort. Chambers of Commerce, Franchised Networking Groups, Federations. You're a collection of members, a co-operative, a series of networking events, a calendar of meets, a local group or an international giant devolved down into local branches.
You're funded by membership fees. You need to keep attracting new
members. That's how you make your money.
You need a website!
But... does a standard website reflect you or what you do, at all? Is it dynamic, collaborative, co-operative created by a network of members, each with their own distinct contributions? Or is it 5 or 6 semi-static pages which are controlled from the center? Does it engage your own members or even allow them to contribute at all? Does it show potential members all that you are and just why they need to be part of you? Do you even have the funds and capabilities to create it, let alone maintain it? Is it even a single website or is it fragmented across completely different sites - each of your local branches with its own separate place. Isolated and disconnected from the rest?
Imagine a different choice. Imagine a website where instead of webpages, we have affiliated Communities. Collections of links to articles, events, news items, information, archives. Outward facing Public sections, private members only sections, paid content areas. All fully threaded by a single but modular, dynamic and collaborative website. In other words, a network or franchise or federation of content creators. The direct online analog of you.
Confused? Then let me paint this imaginary picture a bit more clearly.
Imagine that LinkedIn provided white label or branded versions of the LinkedIn website. That you could have your own LinkedIn, but labelled with your logo, name and branding. Under your control. At the top level, however, no-one needs to sign in and anyone can see the homepage, a homepage where the newsfeed contains your links to the news, events, members, products and services of your network, outward facing to the world.
Just like on LinkedIn, here new sections can be organically added very easily and intuitively. So each branch and member company is here, with their own groups and pages and profiles. Spaces which they themselves create the content for. Yes, everyone in the whole, complete network is here now, under the single branded website. Remember you're in control of this LinkedIn-like website - so those advertising spaces are yours too. You can charge your members or branches to promote themselves, while B2B service providers might pay you a small fortune to advertise themselves direct to your members.
Imagine this, but much more than this too. Is it a fantasy, a dream? Well, it seems not.
Those of you who have read my previous posts will be aware that I have been investigating a novel community based social networking website called Carii. I've been looking into whether this would be a suitable place for business networks, in particular.
Well, lately the boss of Carii told me this.
" First of all, we are providing a "Pro" version with more branding specific to the business. Second, they own their own data and can manage it and delete it at any time. Third, Carii truly supports member to member engagement and the business can get metrics specific to the activity levels of each member and reward them for it directly. *We can also set up a fully private instance for a business - their own version of the platform. "
Imagine I'm a Small Business Network. You know the sort. Chambers of Commerce, Franchised Networking Groups, Federations. I'm a collection of members, a co-operative, a series of networking events, a calendar of meets, a local group or an international giant devolved down into local branches. Imagine I have the vision to see what this new reality could mean for me.
Imagine me going ape.