American Express is OPEN

OPEN Forum It’s interesting to see an implementation of content networks the way I first envisioned them in May 2006. I recently heard from Federated Media‘s James Gross about American Express’s OPEN Forum. Basically, it’s a project where AMEX through Federated has a blog area that aggregates interesting business content, with the mindset of gathering a conversation in a sponsored area. Mentioned as a place to find insight from business experts, it’s essentially a way for AMEX to spread its brand across some select blog content (with the bloggers’ permission).

I asked James what the plan was:

The primary goal was for OPEN to start identifying, curating, and participating in a media landscape that was constantly changing. They had done a lot of work with other publishers, but it was always on the publishers domain and like most microsites, tended to be lightly trafficked and not converting people to the OPEN forum. Not to mention, with what we call, “the de coupling of media” surveys were finding that most SMBs were using blogs and other forms of social media far more than major publishing brand’s SMB sites.

It’s interesting to me, because it’s the other way around from how we perceive our blogs. I think it’s definitely a way to build a content network that would be more useful to end readers. It’s not that we don’t want more traffic to our blog, but that there are ways this content can be made more useful to end readers, by being curated by others in interesting ways. That’s why we use Creative Commons. That’s why we use RSS. It’s the plan.

James says,

Our goal was to bring together leading experts in an engaging experience at the OPEN platform itself. Thus, any of the authors work that was picked up on other blogs, social media engines like Digg, StumbleUpon, etc., would all give credit back to OPEN as being the keeper/facilitator of the conversation. In the new world of media, these trackbacks and links provide a new form of Brand Equity for OPEN. This again drives home the point behind the OPEN brand that they are here for Small Businesses to make their life better and grow their business.

I think this is a project to watch, among others, and I think it’s worth thinking about how your media might work against a certain brand. What’s your take?

Check it out here.

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  • http://www.wrightplacetv.com Dr Wright

    If find it interesting that they spend so little time on what they actually do, business credit. Most bloggers blog about their specialty. Instead, they have brought together experts to talk about different ‘business’ ideas. One post actually says, this blogging stuff is hard. Huh? Then maybe you are not doing it right?

    No posts address AMEX current policy of lower credit lines when people pay them down, nothing on forecasting the credit scene for their customers. Their attempts to be controversial are pretty weak right now.

    Perhaps it will change over time but the blog seems to serve to advertise the cards available and take the attention off what is really happening in the credit industry and especially what their part in it is.

    Dr. Wright
    http://www.wrightplacetv.com

  • http://www.wrightplacetv.com Dr Wright

    If find it interesting that they spend so little time on what they actually do, business credit. Most bloggers blog about their specialty. Instead, they have brought together experts to talk about different ‘business’ ideas. One post actually says, this blogging stuff is hard. Huh? Then maybe you are not doing it right?

    No posts address AMEX current policy of lower credit lines when people pay them down, nothing on forecasting the credit scene for their customers. Their attempts to be controversial are pretty weak right now.

    Perhaps it will change over time but the blog seems to serve to advertise the cards available and take the attention off what is really happening in the credit industry and especially what their part in it is.

    Dr. Wright
    http://www.wrightplacetv.com

  • http://www.joshklein.net Josh Klein

    It’s interesting to see the evolution of content networks as a sort of curated collection of relevant content (as compared to the wild west of the regular ‘ol blogosphere). It makes the content a little more believable for the conservative business thinker.

    Dr. Wright makes an interesting point in the above comment, that this is an unbranded AMEX experience (unbranded meaning it is not the AMEX brand, but rather “brought to you by AMEX”). It would seem the purpose is to align the brand with this new business thinking, rather than redefine the brand itself. Their hope is to be associated with smart business thinking.

    (In full disclosure, I think the agency I work with might do work for AMEX. I’m not sure, I personally haven’t worked with the brand.)

  • http://www.joshklein.net Josh Klein

    It’s interesting to see the evolution of content networks as a sort of curated collection of relevant content (as compared to the wild west of the regular ‘ol blogosphere). It makes the content a little more believable for the conservative business thinker.

    Dr. Wright makes an interesting point in the above comment, that this is an unbranded AMEX experience (unbranded meaning it is not the AMEX brand, but rather “brought to you by AMEX”). It would seem the purpose is to align the brand with this new business thinking, rather than redefine the brand itself. Their hope is to be associated with smart business thinking.

    (In full disclosure, I think the agency I work with might do work for AMEX. I’m not sure, I personally haven’t worked with the brand.)

  • http://www.99daz.com Darren Daz Cox

    I noticed that there was no link back to your own site option in the comments, so I guess they don’t really get it yet!

  • http://www.99daz.com Darren Daz Cox

    I noticed that there was no link back to your own site option in the comments, so I guess they don’t really get it yet!

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  • http://jamesgross.com James Gross

    Hi Chris- Thanks for the write up and your insight on the site. I am glad that it got in front of your community.

    @Dr Wright- The article you reference by Anita Campbell is a great read for any blogger. It is more about your rights as a blogger and what you need to know based on the latest legal action taken by the AP.

    @ Josh- We worked with Digitas New York on this project. They were instrumental from the very beginning and have been a great partner.

    @Darren- You can absolutely link back to your own site when leaving a comment; the field is right under name and email on every post. FWIW, trackbacks are also enabled to help further identify and link out to the conversation.

  • http://jamesgross.com James Gross

    Hi Chris- Thanks for the write up and your insight on the site. I am glad that it got in front of your community.

    @Dr Wright- The article you reference by Anita Campbell is a great read for any blogger. It is more about your rights as a blogger and what you need to know based on the latest legal action taken by the AP.

    @ Josh- We worked with Digitas New York on this project. They were instrumental from the very beginning and have been a great partner.

    @Darren- You can absolutely link back to your own site when leaving a comment; the field is right under name and email on every post. FWIW, trackbacks are also enabled to help further identify and link out to the conversation.

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  • http://www.smallbiztrends.com Anita Campbell

    As one of the bloggers over at the American Express blog, I want to echo Josh’s comment, about the goal being to associate the brand with business thinking and ideas — not to write about American Express and its products.

    As far as controversy, it’s NOT my goal to be strongly controversial. Quite the contrary — I would consider strong controversy highly inappropriate when writing on another company’s site. I treat it the same way I would want guest posters to treat one of my own blogs: I would not like it if someone tried to turn my site into a soapbox.

    Thanks, Chris, for highlighting the site.

  • http://www.smallbiztrends.com Anita Campbell

    As one of the bloggers over at the American Express blog, I want to echo Josh’s comment, about the goal being to associate the brand with business thinking and ideas — not to write about American Express and its products.

    As far as controversy, it’s NOT my goal to be strongly controversial. Quite the contrary — I would consider strong controversy highly inappropriate when writing on another company’s site. I treat it the same way I would want guest posters to treat one of my own blogs: I would not like it if someone tried to turn my site into a soapbox.

    Thanks, Chris, for highlighting the site.

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  • http://chris2x.com Chris Christensen

    Dr Wright,

    I think you missed the point. (For full disclosure my company LiveWorld has worked with Amex and their other agencies on OpenForum site). You don’t draw users by talking about credit cards, even if you are a credit card company. There are certainly uses for that kind of content and that kind of community, but what they were looking for here was broader conversations about business that was of value to their customers. This is not intended to just be a brochure for credit cards.

  • http://chris2x.com Chris Christensen

    Dr Wright,

    I think you missed the point. (For full disclosure my company LiveWorld has worked with Amex and their other agencies on OpenForum site). You don’t draw users by talking about credit cards, even if you are a credit card company. There are certainly uses for that kind of content and that kind of community, but what they were looking for here was broader conversations about business that was of value to their customers. This is not intended to just be a brochure for credit cards.

  • Lee Baler

    In full disclosure, I work for the agency that created OPEN Forum and the accompanying blog.

    Enough people have said intelligent things about the purpose of the content we create and what we’re trying to achieve. I’m not going to expand on that piece.

    The people who are writing on OPEN Forum are objective not. not American Express employees or spokespeople. We don’t edit their content. What they write should is more evergreen rather than commenting on recent news articles

    We did have a senior OPEN official do a recent webcast talking about Cash Flow and how small businesses should maintain an active dialogue w/ their credit providers and to register their business with the various business associations to help ensure credit. It’s a sensitive topic and we are trying to address it in a measured means. It would be non-endemic to the OPEN Forum site to have people all of a sudden addressing publicity whether it’s positive or not.

    Thank you all for commenting.

  • Lee Baler

    In full disclosure, I work for the agency that created OPEN Forum and the accompanying blog.

    Enough people have said intelligent things about the purpose of the content we create and what we’re trying to achieve. I’m not going to expand on that piece.

    The people who are writing on OPEN Forum are objective not. not American Express employees or spokespeople. We don’t edit their content. What they write should is more evergreen rather than commenting on recent news articles

    We did have a senior OPEN official do a recent webcast talking about Cash Flow and how small businesses should maintain an active dialogue w/ their credit providers and to register their business with the various business associations to help ensure credit. It’s a sensitive topic and we are trying to address it in a measured means. It would be non-endemic to the OPEN Forum site to have people all of a sudden addressing publicity whether it’s positive or not.

    Thank you all for commenting.

  • http://andrewhyde.net Andrew Hyde

    A small point, OPEN is AMEX’s small business brand.

    So the forum is a small business forum sponsored by a small business geared credit card. Might be obvious to some, but overlooked by many.

  • http://andrewhyde.net Andrew Hyde

    A small point, OPEN is AMEX’s small business brand.

    So the forum is a small business forum sponsored by a small business geared credit card. Might be obvious to some, but overlooked by many.

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  • http://www.mybestfriendtraining.com/training-an-older-dog.html Training An Older Dog

    Basically, it’s a project where AMEX through Federated has a blog area that aggregates interesting business content, with the mindset of gathering a conversation in a sponsored area.

  • http://creditworld.com.au/ credit card issuers

    It a good thing Amex did something. They give people voices. Now they can write what ever they want, expectation, and maybe comment as well.

  • http://creditcardoffers.com.au/ credit card

    It's a great move coming from a known company w/ plenty of consumer. I hope with this, it will be easier for customer to bring out what they need from the company.

  • http://creditworld.com.au/ credit card issuers

    It a good thing Amex did something. They give people voices. Now they can write what ever they want, expectation, and maybe comment as well.

  • http://creditcardoffers.com.au/ credit card

    It's a great move coming from a known company w/ plenty of consumer. I hope with this, it will be easier for customer to bring out what they need from the company.

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  • http://www.creditcardfinder.com.au Credit Card Finder

    Great strategy by AMEX here. I personally wanted to get an AMEX card, so I could participate in OPEN Forum!

    I think it's a great way to leverage their brand in a new way – one issue I feel many people have in using a social networking tool, of any kind, is trust, and consumers could certainly trust AMEX (to a point!) with their data.

    Keep up the great work

    - Jeremy

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    I agree that it is a great marketing idea for them to allow customers to interact with each other *freely* in a forum setting. I applaud any company which does not moderate comments on their blogs, or posts in their forums.

  • http://www.phoenixwaterfilters.com.au/ Sabri Suby

    I agree that it is a great marketing idea! User generated content is seriously the future!

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    I agree that it is a great marketing idea! User generated content is seriously the future!

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    Opps! Sorry for the multiple comments

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    Opps! Sorry for the multiple comments!

  • http://www.savetubevideo.com youtube downloader

    It’s interesting to me, because it’s the other way around from how we perceive our blogs. I think it’s definitely a way to build a content network that would be more useful to end readers. It’s not that we don’t want more traffic to our blog, but that there are ways this content can be made more useful to end readers, by being curated by others in interesting ways.

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    I applaud any company which does not moderate comments on their blogs, or posts in their forums.

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