OK, so twitter is great, but lots of small businesses and freelancers don’t know where to start. Many just don’t have the time to build up a following and don’t really know what kind of stuff to talk about. Even for big twitter fans there’s a limit to how it can genuinely help to grow and develop your business without turning you into a bad community member.
Let’s try and create an alternative way for small businesses to connect – usefully – that isn’t as time intensive as twitter; that’s easier to use than linkedin; and which can drive genuine business benefit.
The obvious tool to create was a website. This was prototyped early and user tested early to establish two simple core functions: to help users find things they need; and promote things they do. The site therefore centred on a notice board with two tabs: one for WANTED posts and the other for OFFERED posts. The site’s design and additional functionality were all created to make it as easy as possible for users to add, browse, search and respond to these posts. Once added, post titles are automatically sent to the site’s social media accounts with a bit.ly link to allow us to track responses. This makes the site useful for business users who don’t have time to set up and manage their own social media accounts; but also engages those who are users of our selected sites: twitter, facebook and linked in.
The whole project was planned and delivered using a DSDM agile project management framework, by a team assembled specifically for the project. The total time from concept to launch was 12 weeks, which included sourcing the funding and delivery partners, iterative testing and development, name and brand development, launch event and initial marketing plan. The build itself took 6 weeks. The promotional plan is organic and based on partnership and network management, starting in the north east and now starting to roll out to other regions.
The site’s initial holding page attracted 500 businesses to register their interest. On soft launch, 200 users signed up to the service within one week, and 9-weeks post launch we have nearly 600 registered users and over 1000 followers through our social media accounts. Watch this space for future developments…
This project was conceived and managed by Di Gates of Stick Theory with funding support from PNE Group; technical direction from Oli Wood a.k.a The Approachable Geek; with web development by Twisted Studio.