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December 3, 2009

BT unveils revamped SMB social network tool

Tradespace 2.0 to focus on video content

By Steve Evans

BT has revamped its Tradespace SMB social network platform, aimed at helping firms improve their online presence and more effectively engage with customers.

The aim of BT Tradespace is to help SMBs improve their marketing approach and ability to reach new and existing customers. It aims to provide a service that SMBs are unlikely to be able to produce themselves due to prohibitive cost or lack of skills.

“Social media is an extremely effective way of communicating a message, it’s a great promotional tool,” BT’s digital marketing division general manager Ivan Croxford told CBR. “Even today up to 40% of SMBs don’t have a website so we set out to help them perform better in search engine results and create a more compelling online presence for customers.”

The major upgrade to Tradespace 2.0 is its emphasis on video coverage. BT has signed a deal with Cisco to offer clients a Flip video camera, enabling them to better get their message across to customers. The two firms have also combined to produce tutorials explaining how to use the camera.

“Video is a fantastic form of online marketing,” Croxford said. “Video platforms perform very well in search results and have higher click-through rates. People are also much more likely to stay on a page longer if it has video content on it.”

The technology behind the new Tradespace is very similar to the original version but Croxford said that the emphasis has shifted to how businesses can use content to spread their message.

Croxford added that many SMBs rely on word of mouth for their marketing, so BT has added a number of new features to enable small businesses to harness those conversations and manage their online reputation.

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Visitors to a company’s Tradespace page can leave testimonials and there is the option to become a ‘fan’ of the business, similar to the tool used on Facebook. There is also a customer service tool to enable a company to engage with customer who may be experiencing issues with a service or product.

Croxford believes that Tradespace is a better option for SMBs compared to more consumer-oriented social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. “Other social networks are not designed for commerce,” he said. “Facebook especially is not that good for B2B, although Twitter is more useful. The clear difference here is that Tradespace is entirely focused on SMBs and giving them an opportunity to market themselves online.”



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