Swom is one year old today! The official launch was on 1 March 2010 and what a year it’s been! Over 160,000 new members and several major changes to the system later, is Swom still among the top social networking sites for business? I believe it is.
I joined Swom last February when it was still in pre-launch and upgraded to Gold membership on 26 February. It was my first experience of social networking specifically for business and I admit that I was attracted by the promise of making money just by socializing, connecting with others and encouraging other members to upgrade. One year on, I’m happy to report it’s so much more than that!
The commission structure at that time was complicated. A personally referred member who upgraded would earn you a $15 Fast Start Bonus with a requirement for members to refer 10% new Gold members each month to qualify for ongoing residual commissions for Gold referrals. You were also rewarded for your connections with other members depending on their status and their connections.
Swom has always been keen to have feedback from its members on improvements that could be made to the system. Within the first month, admin had listened to members’ requests to improve the compensation plan and set up a group for suggestions from the members themselves. The result was an improved plan based on the points system which up until a month ago was still in effect.
The new compensation plan rewarded three areas – residual referral bonuses, the Gold Evangelist Bonus Pool bonus and the Community Participation bonus. The community points system (a running total of a member’s points shown under their profile picture) gave an indication of their participation and reputation in the Swom community. Several members have over 100k points to date and many more are nearly at that figure.
The change did not go down well with some members who found the way the new plan was calculated caused a steep drop in their estimated earnings for that month. Generally though, it was welcomed by most members who now found it considerably easier to make money.
Another improvement made around this time, again at the request of the members, was the ability for Gold members to create five groups and send out 500 invitations a day. The group feature at Swom is a great way to promote your business to the other members and is one of the main perks of the upgraded membership. Gold members also got their names displayed as a gold link to differentiate more easily between them and the free members with blue links.
Further improvements followed including the ability for group owners to appoint moderators and make their own group rules, removing posts and banning members if they wished. To combat the growing problem with spam, members were given the ability to disconnect with other members and remove posts on their own walls. Shortly after this, again at the members’ request, community chest bonuses were excluded from the 200 a day point limit, making it possible for even more income to be earned. Don’t let anybody tell you that Swom doesn’t listen to its members!
Swom’s Open University was opened on 24 April 2010 – a highly anticipated area where Gold members could ask and answer questions and receive points for doing so. Experienced marketers could share their knowledge, build their reputation and their list and newcomers to IM could learn all they needed to know about how to become successful internet marketers. Without a doubt, this is one of the biggest incentives to upgrade to Gold and is well worth the cost of the monthly fee. Bear in mind that most, if not all, of the fee can be earned back and it’s obvious it’s a win-win situation.
In July sponsored advertising was introduced where all members could display banners to promote their business opportunities for a low cost and at a discounted rate for Gold members. At the time, 500,000 page views a day was a lot of exposure for your business. Today, with almost double the amount of members, it’s even greater.
Other features which have been introduced during the course of the year include Facebook “like” links for easy promotion of your Swom referral link, quicker connection methods and accept/ignore all connections/groups with one click.
The biggest change to the new system has been implemented in the last few weeks and is still under review by Swom admin. Points awarded for making connections and posting comments have been changed to encourage more quality content. Members now award “likes” for comments which they find interesting or useful. It’s not perfect yet but it has improved the quality of conversation on the dashboard and gone a long way to increase relationship building among the members.
Things have not been all plain sailing for Swom though but problems have been dealt with effectively if not as quickly as some would like. The captcha system was introduced in July to combat those members using robots to cheat the system and other members out of their commissions. There are still problems to be resolved but I have every confidence that they will be dealt with in the same way to make our swomming experience the best it can be.
Swom has come a long way in the last year and its success is undoubtedly built on the members’ willingness to share their knowledge and help others. This ethos is what makes Swom, in my opinion anyway, the ultimate social network for marketers online. Happy Birthday, Swom!