Industry-specific social media sites are different from the more well-known social networks like Facebook and Twitter because they allow people in the same industry to network and socialize without all the clutter. Biznik is one such social network that is dedicated to small business owners. While I’m not a small business owner, I’m intrigued by the idea of owning a small business. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication and isn’t always a guaranteed success. Oftentimes, small business owners can feel isolated, but in reality, there are so many other people who have similar questions, concerns and doubts, so why not exchange information with other like-minded professionals?
Created in 2005, the concept of the Seattle-based web app can best be summed up by its slogan, “Going it alone, together.” The great thing about Biznik is that it allows small business owners from all over the world to interact with other small business owners so that they can exchange ideas and advice, create referral networks, collaborate and, most importantly, learn. It gives newbies an opportunity to learn from seasoned small business owners who have experienced great successes in their career.
On the Biznik website, members can read business articles and the regularly updated Biznik blog, find networking events near them and participate in Biz Talk, a moderated community forum in which they can meet in conversation and discussion as peers, build new relationships and strengthen trust. Biznik members can also join existing groups, such as Networking in High Heels, a place where smart business women network, and The Marketing Crowd, where members can share tips, tricks, and trade secrets to market on any budget, or they can form their own group if they don’t find one that suits their business needs. Members can filter their search based on their geographic location and business interests. Take a look below to see all the Biznik categories available in the Seattle area.
Registration to Biznik.com is free and is required to use the site. A free membership provides access to most features of the site, but two levels of premium membership are offered. According to Biznik’s listing on AppAppeal, the Pro membership provides an enhanced profile and member listing and allows for unlimited messaging. A Pro VIP membership provides for priority ranking in all listings and enhanced SEO features. The Pro membership costs $10 per month, while the Pro VIP membership costs $24 per month.
In my opinion, Biznik serves its own purpose apart from other business-related social networking sites like LinkedIn and Ourprivatenetwork. Biznik.com provides more opportunity for face-to-face networking through events and video conferencing than the other two networks. For instance, Employers use LinkedIn to hire candidates for a particular position and to network. Non-employers use LinkedIn to look for work, follow companies they are interested in and to network. Unlike LinkedIn, Biznik is not a place for people to find their next job; rather, it is a place for people to simply learn from and advise other small business owners without the pressure of having to provide members with employment. Through its forums, groups and business articles, Biznik makes itself a niche social network for the business industry.
If Biznik were to create a mobile app, it could use proximity marketing to send pop-up notifications to let members know about networking events happening near them as well as whether there are other Biznik members in their area that they could meet up with face to face. Biznik could take its communications plan to the next level by offering current free members discounts to sign up for the paid member service.
To help with IMC efforts, I think Biznik could rely on Facebook and LinkedIn ads. Facebook would be a good social network to rely on because it’s the most widely used, and LinkedIn would work well because it’s one of Biznik’s competitors. The small business social-networking platform could also add its articles to such document-sharing sites as SlideShare to extend its reach. While Biznik currently has a presence on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Instagram, I could not easily find these buttons on its site, so I would recommend that they make them more easily visible to help with their integrated marketing communications efforts.