AMEX OPEN Forum To Bridge Social Media Divide
American Express OPEN Forum has begun to develop tools that will allow small business owners to bridge the gap between building relationships and connecting through social media.
Pulse -- a feature scheduled for launch later this summer -- will help business owners participate in Twitter conversations from the OPEN Forum platform, Marcy Shinder, vice president of brand management at American Express OPEN, tells Online Media Daily.
"There's a great divide between building relationships versus connecting on social media," she says. "We know that 60% of small business owners are challenged when it comes to finding innovative ways to market their business, and only 13% are tapping into opportunities in social networking."
Through an applications programming interface (API), Pulse will connect OPEN Forum members and site visitors to communicate and share information. It also will identify trending business topics on Twitter, and help them market and promote their businesses.
"Twitter flows like a river with millions of people participating, so sometimes it's difficult to find people and conversations you want to connect with," Shinder says.
Shinder says many small business owners don't know how to connect using social media.
Only about 1% of business owners are "power contributors," she says. About 9% are somewhat involved with social media. The remainder -- well, they are just trying to figure out how social media works.
Jessica Hadler, proprietor of American Business Group -- which helps people, mostly foreign nationals, buy and sell businesses -- thinks of herself as one of those who are somewhat involved in social media, but wants to learn much more.
"When I have a business question that I can't answer, I put it out there to the community to get answers," Hadler says.
Several new features launched on OPEN Forum in July aim to help Hadler and others to forge these connections and conversations among small businesses owner who belong to the site. Two new features include the Idea Hub, which features articles and blog posts from Guy Kawasaki and Henry Blodget.
The virtual rolodex, Connectodex, lists company profiles -- something OPEN Forum has not offered since it launched in 2007.
OPEN Forum also put a new search engine optimization (SEO) strategy in place since adding small business profiles to the site. The goal is to get search engine crawlers to index the profiles and return them on search queries on Google, Bing and others.