While there are plenty of opportunities for small businesses and merchants to advertise, market and even sell online, there aren’t many platforms that allow them to actually communicate with each other by neighborhood and share best practices. Mightybell, the platform that allows communities to learn and share together in groups, has scored a major partnership this morning that hopes to change this for small businesses across the country.
American Express OPEN and Mightybell have teamed up to create a forum, which you can access here, for local businesses to rally and organize events with other local businesses and customers in their neighborhood for Small Business Saturday on November 30 and beyond.
Mightybell, which was founded by Ning founder Gina Bianchini, has steadily evolved from a collaboration destination into a new, interconnected platform for communities. The startup recently redesigned to allow organizations of local chapters, or a network of learning or discussion groups to use the site to connect online. In fact, Mightybell is powering Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In circles to organize and bring together the circles and groups created in Sandberg’s movement.
With Shop Small Neighborhood Circles, Mightybell and American Express are hoping to help local merchants connect to each other for the holiday shopping season and beyond. Part of the launch is around Small Business Saturday, which is a Black Friday/Cyber Monday-like marketing campaign started by American Express OPEN in 2010 to create a national movement in support of shopping for the holidays with small, independent businesses. While American Express OPEN offers businesses advice and best practices, the partnership with Mightybell allows these businesses to connect with each other by neighborhood.
Shop Small Neighborhood Circles all live in the Shop Small Community on Mightybell and include the ability to post events, chat and more. Each neighborhood will have its own specific circle within the community. Interested members can search for the neighborhoods, or create a Circle if they don’t see their neighborhood listed. Nearly 500 neighborhood Circles have been created; you can see what the Battery Park, NYC Circle looks like here.
American Express will be sharing best practices for these businesses, including entertainment, marketing and promotional ideas and small business education. For example, clothing company Pure Detroit started offering discounts to customers who presented receipts from other local businesses. This, along with other best practices, are organized into content collections in each Neighborhood Circle to help businesses make the most of Small Business Saturday.
Bianchini explains that she has been thinking through how to create the “digital glue” for local businesses to connect to each other. The community aspect of networks is a big part of what Mightybell is trying to use as the glue. And AmEx, with millions of small business owners on its Open Forum, allows Mightybell to be the digital layer that brings these communities together.
“Mightybell meets an emerging need in the market: companies and organizations that want to influence networks of neighborhoods, local chapters or project teams getting stuff done. For the first time, organizations can publish great ideas and exclusive content into a network of groups learning and sharing together,” said Bianchini.
What AmEx and Mightybell are doing has some crossover with Nextdoor, the social network for your neighborhood. But Nextdoor focuses also on connecting residents in a given neighborhood, whereas Mightybell is focused exclusively on small businesses.
Local networks are not easy to pull off, but with the promotion and content from American Express, Mightybell could avoid some of the challenges others have faced.