There is a popular blog post currently doing the rounds – a list of 25 Social Media Sites for Entrepreneurs. It provides a brief description of 25 tools (including some familiar ones, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) but with very little analysis or commentary on each.
Committing to any new social networking tool is time consuming. So, I figured it might be helpful to test each out and share my views on which are useful and which… quite simply… suck (i.e. are ugly, awkward and generally suck time from your day with very little return).
As such, I propose to evaluate each of these 25 services over coming days (maybe weeks) and, thereby, devise Anthill’s own Top 10 list of social media sites of specific interest to Australian entrepreneurs.
Of course, any informed analysis requires tools for measurement.
Here are my five not-so-scientific, developed-on-the-spur-of-the-moment social media site evaluation criteria:
What were my first impressions?
Is the site credible in appearance?
What was my gut reaction?
Is the site user-friendly?
Does it articulate its purpose quickly?
Does it drive me to do what it was designed to do?
Does it achieve outcomes comparable to input?
Will I want to come back and invest my time in its future use?
Was there anything about the site that I found remarkable?
Is the site worth making remarks about?
Hit or miss rating:
Is it worth testing? Or should you run and never look back.
To get the ball-rolling, I have started with five evaluations.
Take a deep breath. Here goes…
What is BizFriendz?
What they say
Increase your online presence and your sales as well as develop new business contacts and partnerships through this social media platform. Earn money while you build your network through ticket sales for events you create and through first- and second-tier referral fees from others who join your network and use BizFriendz’ enhanced site features.
Ugly Index: As a first impression, it looks a bit shonky, featuring stock photos of generic business people looking busy, yet strangely content.
Awkwdity Analysis: It is not clear from the outset how this site is supposed to help a business. But once I’d signed up… well… how could I overlook this introduction:
Find out how I have been using this new cash generating source to make xtra money every month by letting others do all the work for me. (its pretty ingenious)
Three punctuation or spelling errors in one opening sentence… ingenious.
Time-Suck Barometer: Based on my observations above, I already know I’m not coming back. Time spent on site? Less than 10 minutes.
Hit or miss rating: Miss.
What is Biznik?
What they say
If you hate isolation, need more clients and customers, want to raise your visibility and need help with certain parts of your business, then Biznik might be right for you. While LinkedIn provides a great venue to seek new work, Biznik is for sharing ideas online and face-to-face.
Ugly Index: My first impression was that this site is quite attractive – professional, polished and clearly features a range of personalised social networking tools.
Awkwidity Analysis: I immediately could see that the purpose of the site is to offer an extremely enhanced ‘profile’ or ‘business listing’ service, and that it already includes members from my ‘city’ and ‘state’. The following ‘tick-box’, which features in the sign-up process, also speaks volumes about the nature of the service:
I certify no aspect of my business or the business I represent involves recruiting other people to sell third-party products or services so that I can earn a percentage of their sales.
Unfortunately, after that point, any opportunities to fully exploit the tool were seemingly reduced – available only to fee paying members (US$10 per month).
While this is not a significant sum, the tool’s reach into the Australian business community is limited, which obviously undermines its appeal to this prospective fee paying member.
Time-Suck Barometer: The main strength of this social networking site is that it includes features such as ‘Needs you can fill’, ‘Members you can meet’ and ‘Events you can attend’, according to locality. It also allows members to build their profiles by publishing articles and blog posts.
It’s well-constructed and user-friendly but, unfortunately, such tools are only helpful if they assist users to reach likely customers and suppliers from their own ‘neck of the woods’. For this reason, I doubt I will be returning to this site in the near future.
Remarkability Rating: While trawling the site, I did notice that Anthill 30under30 winner and local media maven Ross Hill is a member and recently published an article on the Biznik site, interviewing Biznik Founder Dan McComb. Another Australian member is Luke McCormack of Rentoid fame. As two people with keen insight into the social media space, I can only assume that the interest of Hill and McCormack bodes well for the tool’s future Australian adoption.
Hit or miss rating: Hit (if more Australians find home on its pages).
What is Cofoundr?
What they say
This community for entrepreneurs offers a global environment for entrepreneurs to find co-founders, to build teams and to get advice. This is a public beta offering, so getting in on the ground floor might appeal to your entrepreneurial spirit
Ugly Index: This site is very conservative in appearance and features little of the glitz and glamour often dished up by social media ventures.
Whether this enhances or reduces the credibility of the site, will most probably depend on the visitor’s own pre-conceived understanding of the site (i.e. whether or not it has been recommended) because there is very little else for a new visitors to judge this site by.
Awkwidity Analysis: The site structure also offers very few options for new visitors, other than to sign up. But that works for this site, because from the outset, the purpose of this service is clear:
- Find a co-founder for your new venture.
- Recruit others to join your startup team.
- Team up with local entrepreneurs and join a promising startup.
- Find funding for your current startup venture.
- Network with other entrepreneurs, investors, and executives.
Once signed-up, which requires the creation of a profile (as an investor, entrepreneur or one of several other categories), the site is largely structured around the the creation and publication of ‘Ideas’ by members. For example, after a search on ‘Ideas’ featuring the keyword ‘Publishing’, the service sourced this:
|Seeking Business Genius to Reinvent the Publishing Industry (0)
Posted by Christina Wodtke on Jul-18
|Palo Alto CA
This idea was posted by a self-proclaimed “user experience visionary and mad scientist engineer”. While extremely basic in structure, bare on social media bells and whistles and not so attractive to look out, this site is extremely effective at steering members into doing what it was designed to do – post and syndicate ideas.
Time-Suck Barometer: Does it achieve outcomes comparable to input? This would obviously depend on whether it is effective at helping users find partners – investors and investment opportunities. Personally, I cannot imagine a sophisticated investor using the tool to identify his or her next ‘ten-bagger’. However, I would be happy to be proven otherwise.
Hit or miss rating: Hit (because it’s easy to use, free and I can’t imagine it taking over my life).
What is DreamStake?
What they say
DreamStake is a collaborative platform for “creative entrepreneurs” who want to meet up with other talented individuals with experience across a wide range of disciplines. Find funding, legal and marketing expertise and software and design development skills at this site.
Ugly Index: Yup. It’s ugly. And amateurish in appearance. But, as a first impression, it’s immediately apparent that this social networking site has entrepreneur members and a range of entrepreneurial groups, such as the Funding Zone and the Incubator Zone (although, while I’m only on my fourth review, it’s beginning to feel like I’ve entered the Twilight Zone).
Awkwidity Analysis: Every link directs new visitors to the sign-up page and clearly articulates its purpose. However, these strengths are undermined by the system’s manual approval process. Until a “administrator” approves my request, this review can go no further. I will not be able to determine whether the service will ‘drive me to do, what it was designed to do.’
Time-Suck Barometer: Closer examination of the site (without actual permission to participate) suggests that DreamSake was created to promote the incubation services of its owners, rather than to provide pure social networking services. For example, the following extract appears on the homepage:
If you are looking to fund a business the important thing is to describe your business proposition well… It is essential that this document is well written and coherent. When you are ready to do so, send this document to [email protected]. We will review it and if we believe you have an investable business idea that we can help with we will outline the next stage.
In fact, I suspect that it is created in Ning and, as such, not even a real social networking site. Even with ‘permission to enter’, I would be unlikely to return to DreamStake.
Remarkability rating: While attempting to join, DreamSake’s login system informed me that my email address was already in use (“You already have a Ning ID”). What’s remarkable here is that one, small company was able to create a web community within the structure of a larger, existing social media platform (i.e. Ning) and then develop a reputation for being a social media site in its own right.
Hit or miss rating: Miss (and to add insult to injury, now that I’ve been given ‘permission to enter’, I find myself at the receiving end of random missives from members almost every hour, on the hour… No thanks).
What they say
Create new contacts and friends, market your business for Google visibility, share your knowledge for opportunities to meet others and build your business with unlimited advertisements in the Marketplace.
Ugly Index: This is one of the more attractive of the options explored so far and possibly the most credible in appearance. The sign-up process is long but clear (much like LinkedIn). But then fails to effectively introduce the social networking tools on offer (Groups, Marketplace, Blogs and Forums). And here’s why…
Awkwidity Analysis: Unfortunately, much like BizNik (above), the tools promoted are radically reduced upon joining – available only to fee paying members (US$3 per month, this time). Every element that could make this new tool sticky and seductive is locked behind a paywall (i.e. Post a poll! US$3). And many of the tools, such as member blogs, are superfluous to any business owner with a website (i.e. every effective business owner).
Time-Suck Barometer: I could see this site being helpful to service providers and consultants looking for a platform to network and raise his/her profile. But for an entrepreneur, this service offers few tools that aren’t already available to most business owners as a function of marketing. It’s reach into Australia is also limited. In other words, a lack of Australian members means a reduced number of opportunities for Australian entrepreneurs seeking to find new customers and partners.
Remarkability rating: This service seems to have attracted a surprisingly high number of people from South Australia. Obviously, one or two members that could be described as ‘influencers’, according to Malcolm Galdwell’s definition, hail from those parts. In fact. the first 10 events tagged ‘Australia’ listed on the site are destined to take place in South Australia.
Hit or miss rating: Hit (depending on your goals).
Earlier on in this post, I proposed to “evaluate each of these 25 services over coming days”, throwing in the caveat “maybe weeks”.
For the record, reviewing these five took several days in its own right, which provides me with my first concluding observation.
Picking the right social media platforms can greatly assist your business. Exploring the wrong ones… I wouldn’t wish this process on my most technophobic enemy.
Wish me Godspeed. I now only have 20 more to review. (Sheesh!)