Spanish CCIs: Social networks to draw businesses

The 2012/05/15 at 07:45
Valérie Demon, in Madrid

Illustration Thierry Cap de Coume
Given that businesses are no longer required to pay Chambers membership fees, Spanish CCIs have been forced to make themselves known to companies. A lack of visibility has pushed certain Chambers to invest in social networks or even to create their own.

If you don't come to the Chamber then the Chamber will come to you. Since the end to compulsory membership fees effective at the start of this year (except for businesses producing over 10 million euros in turnover), CCIs have had to show greater inventiveness (read article "Innovation imposed upon Spanish CCIs") to ensure a new era of financing. The CCIs can no longer remain passive and must now seduce businesses in the hope of subsidising their costs. In this way, a few Spanish CCIs have decided to venture down the social network path in earnest, to gain in strength and presence. "This new budgetary situation, added to the media boom of social networks, has allowed us to use these networks for promoting and capturing ideas," believes José Antonio Martinez Gonzalez, Secretary of the Innovation Committee of the CCI of Castellón.


The Chamber of Commerce of Barcelona launched, on 18 January, its own social network, the Club Cambra. "We decided not to use the LinkedIn network for example because we could not guarantee that the companies present on the network really existed. With Club Cambra, we intend to promote networking with businesses so that they can increase their activities. It's free for the moment, and open to all national or foreign companies," declares Albino Campo, IT Manager at the CCI of Barcelona. Since its creation, 2,000 partners-businesses have signed up. "We help them to increase their exports along three axes," he continues. First, a range of international and technological services is offered at discount fee rates. A second axis is to provide businesses with information on their export markets. "Finally, we have signed an agreement with a bank to offer financing to SMEs. Procedures are quicker if the partners belong to the Club."


Other "classic" social networks are used for various purposes by the Chambers. At the CCI of Barcelona, Twitter serves as a means of communication on activities and training programmes while Linkedin is used to attract new businesses. Sectorial and geographical groups have been set up where queries are answered by experts – either CCI employees or external collaborators. "In each department, since January we have one person or more in charge of networks," comments the Manager. In this way, two months down the track, the CCI of Barcelona realised that businesses wanted to strengthen their e-commerce possibilities. "These networks help us to identify these needs and to meet them," he concludes.


Smaller than its Barcelona counterpart, the CCI of Castellón is no less keen on new technologies. It is even a pioneer in network creation, with Globarrea, launched two years ago. This is a "tool for export during crisis periods," explains José Antonio Martinez Gonzalez, Secretary of the Chamber’s Innovation Committee, in charge of launching social network after social network for the Chamber, each with a different target. He started with Twitter in June 2011, creating specific channels, namely for training. Another account is focused on more general Chamber issues. "We are currently in a testing phase for setting up an account for each department" explains José Antonio Martinez Gonzalez. "We need to be very prepared because we cannot launch such a service if it has not been perfected." As for the LinkedIn network, "this is a means to do serious networking, but informally," he adds.


CCIs now need to proceed to a second stage, as announced by José Antonio Martinez Gonzalez: the interaction stage. "On Twitter, I'm the one who replies, whereas LinkedIn is taken care of by other employees. For the moment, businesses are reacting, but it's true that conversing with an institution such as the CCI represents work for them."



A few networks

CCI of Barcelona: Club Cambra:

Twitter: @ClubCambra


CCI of Castellón:

Twitter: @camaracastellon and @FormacionCamara (specialised in training)


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2012-11-21 08:09:28 UTC

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