A Year In Review (of Social Fusion Networking)

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I promised you an update on the various projects I’d undertaken this year.

Here it is:

Social Fusion Networking Launched

First Burlington, then Oakville and in October we launched the Niagara group.

In December we had discussions with a new venue to begin hosting a Toronto network and some of the other locations we’ve been considering.

Burlington has thrived from day 1. Oakville too but we’ve had issues with the venues. Nobody’s fault per-se, just life and changing times.

October 3 Trade Show

In celebration of Small Business week we produced what many have called the “largest independent b2b networking event” of the Fall.

With over 300 attendees and more than 20 vendor tables (all free I might add) the event was a huge success. People have been asking whether we plan to produce another trade show in 2013.

We’re working on it ;-) Stay tuned …

Super Coupon Book

Now this was a brilliant idea … still is. Problem is people doubt things when they seem too good to be true. This was apparently one of ‘em.

The launch success of the Super Coupon Book was dependent on being filled with coupons. Not just a few – a lot! We needed traction.

It failed to gain it. We got a lukewarm response to this free promotional offer. So for now we’ve parked the project and may revisit it later in 2013.

Maybe people will flock to signup if I charged a fee? Ironically I wanted to give away inclusion initially to prove the model.

I planned to charge after the model had proven itself. No catch to anyone. If it works you win. If it didn’t you didn’t pay … it was free!

Oh well, onwards an upwards.

Facebook, a Page for All

This wasn’t the first time Facebook had been part of a Social Fusion Networking Group. I’d included it in the very early days of the project.

It bombed. So I shut down that channel. In fairness, I think most of the SM channels tanked when I started using them because this was BEFORE SOCIAL MEDIA REALLY TOOK OFF.

You might recall, social media went mainstream in 2009. I’ve been using aspects of it since 2005!

The jury is out on whether the FB page will gain traction, either way it adds value and another dimension to the network.

Moreover, it adds another social signal that positively impacts our SEO ;-) *hint hint* Social Media signals are the new “links” and while they’ll not replace them anytime soon, the major search engines are altering their search results based on your participation in social media.

If you’re too busy to create your social media content, publish your updates and manage your profiles – BFM can help. Ask me about our Content Made Easy (™) programs. They’re priced to suit most budgets and we get results. Call Business Fusion Marketing today +1.888.588.9428

Sponsoring & Promotions

Something to remember, our networks are free to join as a member because they’re funded by sponsors and advertisers who pay to share messages and other promotional content with you.

We’ve seen a few sponsored messages this past year and I anticipate we’ll see more as members and independent 3rd parties realize how much value their is in our network membership.

Remember, member to member promotional messages are OK if you know each other. If you don’t – don’t send them. I get emails quite a bit from members who don’t mind the Mods sending promotional emails (hey, it’s what pays the freight and keeps SFN free!) but they don’t appreciate it when other members try it on.

Like I said, if you don’t know the person you’re pitching … don’t pitch using the systems. Talk to them in person at an event and guess what … they’ll likely be more receptive to your ideas. Build a relationship first … then share your new ‘doofangle’ … I know … what a concept eh?

If you’d like to know more about promotional opportunities to our network, please get in touch with me. Remember, each channel has unique rules about messaging so scheduling is platform dependent.

There’s an App For That!

No really, there is. It’s in development at this stage. Very early development and we’re exploring the best ways to deploy it so as to add value to the membership. We don’t have a delivery date at this time – we’re hoping later this year (maybe the Summer?) but it’s a function of the design and final platform coding.

We’re building a universal mobile app that will run on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. By the way … if you wondered what will be a bigger trend this coming 2013 than before … think MOBILE and LOCAL. If you don’t have a mobile local marketing strategy – specifically one that integrates with your social media and classical marketing then we should talk.

My team and I are developing a series of free and fee based eTraining, Consulting and Service Programs for 2013 that include MOBILE, SOCIAL MEDIA and NETWORKING. If you’re interested in learning more, let me know.

How to Start Your Own Social Fusion Network

As you know, our SFN (™) brand powers the “Business In Networking” groups and events. Event marketing using enhanced social media is big business. And face to face networking is not going away. In fact, it’s growing.

You may recall from the start we offered the ability to run one of our other BiX networks. Niagara is one such network and Oakville is available now too.

However, if you wanted to start your own and call it something completely different but you wanted to borrow the model, the methodology and the mindset behind our successful format … you will soon be able to.

Later in 2013 (target date March 2013) we will be launching an eTraining program whereby you will be able to learn all that it takes to start and successfully launch your own network using our SFN Formula.

The materials, model, philosophy, strategies, tactics etc will be available as e-training modules online. Access to the materials includes a lifetime license to deploy your own branded instance of a Social Fusion Network ™ and you may elect to join our directors network where you’ll be given access to monthly content: custom email copy, best practices, cheat sheets, suggestions, advice and results from experiments as well as continued access to all upgrades to the SFN ™ model.

Again, if you’re interested in learning more, drop me an email. As we get closer to launch I’ll share the information about how you can get involved. Of course, if you want a total turn-key solution we offer that too for about the same price as a monthly quarter-page newspaper advert.

Directory Site

Finally, in early December we decided to pilot a directory site on BusinessInBurlington.net

It’s proven popular however we’re having some technology challenges with our development team.

Sadly we’re parting ways. Hey, I have over 20 years software development experience and managed multi-million dollar projects so I’m not going to stand for any horse pucky or slopping coding.

Long story short, the coders are dragging their heels and I want this solution solved yesterday.

So we’re switching horses mid race! I know, not super cool but what the heck it’s fun when code is involved.

This is why I don’t charge for many of the pilot projects we run. This way no one loses out and while we’re ironing out the kinks you get access to another cool promotional channel for your business.

Like the Super Coupon Book at some point I will likely review the pricing model and see how that sits with people. As before, if it works and I can provide value then you’ll likely be cool with it.

If it sucks air and doesn’t do anything … then no harm no foul.

As an aside, I just checked … Google has picked up 80 entries from the directory so you know it’s working thus far. And I may have forgotten to mention that it is a WordPress site … the darling of the search engines ;-)

OK, that’s all for 2012 … 2013 is just around the corner. If you’d like to attend the January 2nd BiB Event swing by http://meetup.com/businessinburlington and RSVP yes. I just heard from John we have some more space available – Woot!

Last but not least …

It’s been a lot of hard work but a total delight developing these networks and helping you connect, promote and share your businesses with each other. As I said when I started this a year ago … if you guys want me to keep producing these events I will, and so far the growth, the feedback and the buzz keeps on growing.

For that I’m pleased, and humbled.

Stay frosty,

James Burchill

http://BusinessFusionMarketing.com • Digital Marketing & Training
http://JamesBurchill.com • Read My Blog • Listen To My Podcast
http://SocialFusionNetworking.com • Creating Local B2B Communities

One thought on “A Year In Review (of Social Fusion Networking)

  1. I like your style and the outlook of the social networking approach. Hope I can take advantage of and contribute to the network in the new year, esp in being able to develop apps.

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