Please bear with me while I make a case for something that most of us don’t likely need: Another social media network. Hear me out—this one is different. It’s the American Express OPEN Forum, and it’s arguably a must-visit for entrepreneurs, thought leaders, even corporate executives. What started as a resource for American Express clients has become an organic meeting place for the business minded. Call it LinkedIn for thought leaders, Facebook for founders; OPEN Forum is an online space where almost every exchange seems relevant to entrepreneurs and innovators. Here are three reasons you won’t regret joining.
1. It will inspire your own content marketing
While it looks like other social networking sites, the OPEN Forum is different in that it is essentially a marketing site. The OPEN Forum started out in 2007 as an information source and informal community offered to American Express’s small-business cardholders. As the site gained popularity, it opened to non-cardmembers through LinkedIn in 2010. It has since become a brand of its own. The OPEN Forum now welcomes hundreds of thousands of users, and its popular Twitter feed, @OPENforum, currently has 200,000 followers. This is a content marketing coup that other brands only dream about.
2. It offers thoughtful advice from leading experts
Similar to other social networks, OPEN Forum allows you to keep up with a variety of connections via a streaming timeline. You can follow favorite connections and they can follow you. But it’s unique in that you are encouraged to ask questions and share answers with the community directly. Because this community is filled with knowledgeable peers, the answers tend to be more detailed and useful than the type you might find on Facebook or even LinkedIn.
Take a recent question posted regarding cash flow. The president of a company asks the community for examples on what others do to stabilize peaks and valleys in cash flow. Nearly 200 answers include ideas for doing quarterly or annual projections, gaining new business, collecting receivables in a timely way, stabilizing and automating expenses, moving to a subscription-based pay model, and much more. There is also advice about getting a line of credit, which is good for Amex, but that’s all they seem to want from the deal. By helping customers and potential customers build stronger businesses, Amex gets better customers. (Better customers who, not incidentally, are checking into a credit card forum site on a regular basis.)
But the advice goes well beyond money. There are tips about branding, SEO, apps and technology, leadership, and beyond. The forum also publishes authored articles and other original and shared content on the site—including videos, infographics, and blog posts created by hundreds of contributors and curated by Amex editors. You can subscribe to or browse topics of interest, news, or featured items. This makes it a great place to keep up with the latest business trends and interesting ideas (like why introverts make great employees, or which trend Biz Stone says will be the future of marketing).
3. It’s a great place to rub elbows with the business elite
If you want to hang out in a crowd filled with founders, CEOs, heads of marketing, branding consultants, editors in chief, and motivational coach types, the OPEN Forum is a great place to find them online. There are also Forum Circles through a third party website Mightybell. Members can join the LA or NYC CEO BootCamp circles, for example, which is an online version of the company’s regular CEO BootCamp events. The company also sponsors the popular annual Small Business Saturday, as well as other forums.
The site also offers a Connectodex feature that allows users to leverage their connections and find associates, client leads, potential partners, and so on.
So don’t let Facebook fatigue or too much Twitter keep you from getting to know the Amex OPEN Forum. Trust me, this time it’s different.
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