Pouring hot water on The Ant Can

21/10/2009 at 10:56 am Leave a comment

We keep a keen eye on what is happening in our industry and I was delighted to receive a tweet this morning from our member Nicola Reeves on Twitter about a new service called TheAntCan.com, at www.theantcan.com unsurprisingly, which purports to match people with needs to those who offer solutions.  You’ll recognise this as being a similar concept to our Biz Needs feature.

The Ant Can is based out of Waterlooville in Hampshire and is a site where you register, add what it is you can offer and what it is you need, like we give you on WeCanDo.BIZ.

I’ve registered and I am waiting to see what sort of traffic it generates.  As it launched only yesterday it seems fair to give it time, so I’ll comment on the volume and quality of enquiries down the line.

TheAntCan.com website (click to enlarge)

TheAntCan.com website (click to enlarge)

A few observations so far though:

  • The site requires registration before you can do anything, which is a pain when the rest of the web is moving towards allowing you to sign in using an existing web identity (WeCanDo.BIZ enables you to sign in using Twitter, Facebook, Google and more) — registration apathy is a BIG issue when you’re building a community from scratch
  • Businesses have to pay £15 a quarter, where we offer Biz Needs to all for free
  • When submitting what you offer you’re required to detail the type of service you offer from a set of categories, under which are sub-categories; as we’ve discovered when members come to add businesses to our service, getting categories complete and correct is no mean feat and on The Ant Can this absolutely MUST be correct to match you up with a submitted need (and it’s interesting to see that “Business Services” includes “Tents and Marquees” as an example!)
  • It runs the risk of member’s “needs” being thinly veiled — or even blatant! — self promotion; we suffered from this early on with Biz Needs. Now we disapprove needs like “more customers in Hampshire”, “people who need to reduce their costs” and marketing messages which don’t present a sales lead to others — it will be interesting to see how The Ant Can prevents abuse of the system
  • No networking elements to help you understand which of your known contacts has dealt with the member you’re looking at
  • No endorsement system to help build confidence in potential suppliers of services (preferably ties to your network so it highlights suppliers that your contacts have used)
  • No Customer Relationship Management tools to help you progress the enquiries you’re getting

I admire what they’re trying to do, as there is little doubt that in spite of the almost endless connections you can make on the internet in these days of social networking it can be tough to find an easy way to connect with people who have a need for what you do.  For home workers and the casual trades it could provide a valuable connection to other individuals providing a feed of work.

For businesses, however, The Ant Can needs beefing up to compete effectively with other sites with a large base of existing members that offer more for less — in our case, free.

If you’ve used The Ant Can we’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences so far — just post a reply below.

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The Great #BizNeed Hashtag Experiment Coming soon: Import and manage your Twitter contacts through WeCanDoCRM Social CRM

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