With the official (and somewhat bumpy) launch of Caravat.com and capital drying up due to recession, Cyvee.com, the first business network for professional in Vietnam – aka. LinkedIn clone, needs a serious response to the challenges. The new UI has received very positive feedback from people within my Twitter community, but it is still the same old brand new you. Cyvee.com needs to be Bigger + Stickier + More Profitable.
Caravat.com, a social network for leaders and industry experts, has just announced a 5000-member milestone a few minutes ago. That certainly worries our folks at Cyvee. Not really. If Caravat.com is taking a 20/80 approach (translation: targeting the 20% top executives), Cyvee is pretty open to everyone who “claims” themselves to be professionals. My suggestion is Cyvee should strive to capture the rest 80% of the market, who are certainly denied membership to Caravat. How do they do that? Abolish the illogical CVD system, and allow people to freely connect to each other. If you wonder why such a virtual monetary system sucks, please read my previous review on Cyvee. Without such an obstacle, Cyvee members can expand their network and be more active (I guess). PR and marketing were done vigorously but they can still contribute to the membership growth.A good PR pitch for tomorrow: “Cyvee abandoned its retared CVD system!” may help.
No matter how big Cyvee can become, it is still limited by being local. This means there can be around one million member at best. Unfortunately, people don’t go to business networks for fun, like the way they Facebook or Tweet. They go there because they want to seek a new job due to various reasons or build business relationships. This means the frequency of return is very low. This explains why during the first few months after its launch last year, traffic to the site kept rocketing. People were curious and wanted to explore things. But after that, it fell, obviously. The only way to offset this low rate is to grow a large enough userbase, OR have something up their sleeves to lure users into coming to the site more often. How to do the latter?
- News: Cyvee’s news feature is quite similar to Digg. While I think it does no harm to keep the news section as is, outsourcing to third party news aggregator such as Baomoi.com/Gocnhin.com is better. Have you read the “Internet is almost full” entry of Seth Godin? We have too much information already. Removing it entirely doesn’t hurt either. Plus, most people post news because they want to earn more CVDs, now that this system is removed (and it should be), what’s the point? Upcoming events is a good feature to have, quite useful.
- Groups: This is good. Groups allow more bonding and discussions, which in turn increase the rate of return. Cyvee is having a “featured groups” section on the front page, which is good. A lot of people who join these groups are getting together offline, which is another plus. Group leaders have an incentive to build good ones as that can get them exposed to more job opportunities.
- Q&A: Even though Q&A looks really messy with all kind of funny questions ranging from “what should I do when my lover leaves me?” to “What does it feel like when we die?”, many other questions are good. Undoubtedly Cyvee is currently a quite good place to ask questions relating to business matters. Again, removing the CVD system, which now requires people to have enough “cash” to ask, will surely boost the number of questions. A review/ rating system can be useful, but by no means necessary.
- Jobs, quite good. Job postings by members. This should be encouraged.
- Educational Center for Professional: this is indeed an awesome suggestion (not mine, though). What about working with business training centers nationwide to provide podcast or videocast training seminars/ sessions on job skills and other business subjects. Cyvee can go to trainers and say: “we have this number of professionals who are interested in an online course of yours”, then go back and tell its users: “we have this online course of theirs in which you might be interested.” They may either decide to charge a fee from those centers or do charity work.
LinkedIn is launching its own ad network due to substantial demand from advertisers. The difference of advertising on Facebook/Myspace/Twitter/etc. is that business networks have valuable users. More often than not, this crowd is a pretty focused segment and wealthy enough to buy the products or services advertised. It works similarly to the way ads are placed on business magazines, to the best of my knowledge. The challenge for Cyvee is, however, BIG. In the US or Europe, when the economy is down, people turn to online advertising. But in Vietnam, they quit advertising altogether. My argument is that if Cyvee starts doing this, the initial revenue stream might be thin, but in the long-run it can be juicy, if the right steps are taken. So far, this has been the best approach to online advertising for social networks, give it a try, dudes!
As mentioned earlier, the limitation of Cyvee is that it concentrates on a single market: Vietnam. This is not a big market when it comes to business networking. In addition to Cyvee’s getting bigger, Fresco20 strongly suggests that Cyvee look beyond Vietnam. Perhaps South East Asia is a good start. While I haven’t put any thought into this, the first takeaway is: the default language should be English, not Vietnamese. That’s the way Caravat.com does it. And it’s a good move. A network for businesspersons should be in English. It reflects Vietnam’s integration into the global economy, but here’s the better part: it helps filtering out self-claimed professionals.
Comments and suggestions are welcome.