11:FS has failed - We are closing down FIN
Did I click-bait you into reading this? Relax, we are not shuttering 11:FS, just a small part of it.
In December 2015 Zite was shut down and that made me super sad. Straight up Zite was the place I went to gain access to a tailored listing of the most interesting things happening in the industry, and its demise left me with a gap in my morning routine that I needed to fill.
To that end 11:FS wanted to create a crowdsourced platform for fintech news that complemented the work we do with our Fintech Insider podcast, as well as give the community surrounding the podcast a place to discuss the news and stories troll-free.
This hasn't worked out quite as we had planned and today we announce that we will be closing FIN on the 11th of March.
How do you decide if the news you think is important and we talk about on our FinTech Insider podcast is also important to our audience? At 11:FS it was a question we asked ourselves, and after some thought our answer was to introduce Fintech Insider News, aka FIN.
The vision was a platform for sharing and discussing the latest news and trends in fintech, banking and financial services. We wanted it to be a single source that took the threads on Twitter, LinkedIn and the down the pub conversations around "did you hear about X?", so anyone could see the biggest stories at a glance. It also offered a way to talk about the implications of those stories with our peers.
This curated platform would provide a method for the Fintech Insider community to highlight, upload and upvote stories. We knew the audience worked at banks, fintechs and everything else in between. We also knew many were as passionate and vocal about the topics we covered as we were, so why not build a community around them? A new place to discuss the news, offer additional insights and the odd snarky comment. Especially that last part, and maybe not so odd.
Throughout the process of growing the podcast audience, engaging with the community through multiple channels and our live events we learned a huge amount, and that made us question how and why we did things. At 11:FS we do everything on purpose, with purpose.
All that said, we learned a bunch and here it is...
So… what did we learn?
1) Build it and they will come…sort of
The numbers were good for FIN. The posts, the regulars and we even got to the point where we had some companies dropping press releases direct into it. This was great, but signups and user behaviour weren't what we really expected. Communities require different actors and in this case “creators”, “readers” and “commentators”.
2) Social is about the individual, not the community
Many people would use FIN as a reader to get to the of core things happening, similar to how you might use something like Nuzzel. Instead of sharing the content in a way that promoted the FIN platform, they would drop it directly to their social from the source. This makes sense but stops the rise and distribution of the platform meaning it is hard to push numbers of users or engagement. We had to continually stock the shelves with stories for this significant part of the audience or rely on a small number of really loyal folks.
3) Moving a community is hard…
People like to be where distribution is and most people have either Twitter or Linkedin. If they don’t, they wouldn't be the types of people for FIN and if they did then what can we offer that is different? For us, the idea was to be super-specific about the content and the conversation. But again, working against huge communities is hard. Who knew?!
4) A messy garden doesn't regulate itself
There is an idea that communities should regulate themselves, but for us FIN always felt like something that would need a curator to keep it moving. Without one, the grass is knee-high and there is no-one to start the mower.
5) Unloved children don't shine
We didn't really focus enough on FIN. This is on me mostly. We have had a huge amount of things to do at 11:FS and really it was always a side project to the side projects and not at all with the same focus or passion we instil in all the other things that we collectively do. Definitely a learning for me on this one.
We are lucky with the support we gathered. Over the period we have found across Twitter and LinkedIn, a huge number of people have engaged with 11:FS, Fintech Insider and our content, and we are super thankful for that.
The community has been commenting on our LI posts, sharing our blogs with additional commentary, taking part of our content and reposting it, then adding their own points of view, which is awesome.
We’d ask a question, or post a poll and get comments, DMs and emails all offering opinions and ideas. My personal Twitter or LinkedIn blows up every so often with passionate people sharing their views on posted polls or posed questions and this will continue.
But with FIN I feel like we are pushing water up the hill a little. Over its life, it became apparent the fintech community was using the channels they preferred for interaction and while we were still gathering a huge amount of feedback, ideas, questions, and a couple of disagreements along the way, FIN just wasn’t what we wanted it to be.
So FIN was a waste of time? Not even close.
Over the entire build process, we learnt things. Managing the platform day-to-day we learned how, where and why the community wanted to engage with us.
We found we could crowdsource ideas, AMAs and so on. So as well as keeping up with our community base on Twitter and Linkedin, it’s why we’ve revived OnAir. We’ve also found that video-based, socially native content is working for us and gaining significant traction. If you’ve not joined us yet, we go live at 3pm GMT every Wednesday with an assortment of great guests.
So, we’ve decided to shutter Fintech Insider News. It doesn't mean we don't think the community is important anymore. More that we at 11:FS don't need to be everything to everyone.
It may come back someday, we will definitely be using the functionality for something for sure, but for now, it’s the end.