The WAYN forward

WAYN – Where Are You Now, the world’s favourite travellers’ social network with 15m members – is jumping on the social media band-wagon and getting into micro-blogging.

Capitalising on the trend for writing regular, sentence-or-two long updates that has seen Twitter become huge news and influenced the recent Facebook facelift, WAYN will create its own micro-blogging section on the site called ‘Plans’.

“The idea is that you can effectively plan what you are up for doing in the future. So you can talk about what you are doing this evening or that you are up for going snow boarding or up for learning a language,” says WAYN co-founder Peter Ward in an interview with the Telegraph.

“It will be a micro blogging platform like Twitter but it's not about what you are doing now. From a social networking paradigm, if you know that one of your friends is up for going to Brazil in July, you might want to join them, give them tips or put them in touch with friends. There's a lot more reason for engagement.”

Its founders hope this additional and more current interaction will take individual users of the site from 8m per month to between 15m and 20m. It will help keep users on the site, where at the moment WAYN’s limited by the fact people only travel occasionally so only visit the site occasionally.

And it will provide a new slant on micro-blogging – where Twitter and Facebook are about current news and sharing with a known group of friends, WAYN’s micro-blogging will be focused very much on future plans and connecting people who don’t know each other from across the globe.

Effectively, WAYN has ripped off someone else’s popular idea and made it relevant to its own users.

But there’s nought wrong with that.

In fact, it’s what some of the very best business owners and entrepreneurs do – Beatthatquote.com founder John Paleomylites explained cheerily in his recent interview with Smarta that he stole the idea for his business from Moneysupermarket.com and made it better. (Keep an eye out for the interview, coming to Smarta very soon..)

And why wouldn’t you? If a competitor is doing something flashy that everyone seems to be willing to spill their cash or time on, you’d be foolhardy not to consider whether it could add value to your business. That doesn’t mean sacrificing your USPs to become an identi-kit DNA-clone of your closest competitor, but keeping ahead of trends that look set to stay is crucial, particularly in times like this.

As WAYN’s Ward (WAYN’s Ward, party time, excellent – sorry) pointed out, “What anything like this [economic downturn] does is make you focus on what’s important. It was one of our biggest lessons. We had become a jack of all trades and master of none.”

WAYN’s founders assessed their business stringently, realised what was holding them back (the fact users don’t travel all the time), and ripped off an idea that was working elsewhere to plug a hole and create new usage.

This is great advice for any business – look at your weaknesses, then look around for how to re-engage customers. That might mean looking at direct competition, or looking at broader trends that are influencing your wider market.

Either way, at times like this, you need to be constantly vigilant about what your competition’s up to, and creative and forward-thinking in how to keep customers interested in you.

And nicking other people’s ideas for any of that is officially fair play.

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