Site gives shipping its own social media home

Surprisingly, given that it is largely built on networking, the shipping industry has not had its own social media platform — until now.

Shippingcluster.com has been set up in Norway by Eirik Fosse, who says it is an online social network developed exclusively for the global shipping industry — “eliminating all unrelated noise, making people and business easy to find and be found”.

Fosse, who was introduced to the shipping industry in 2007/2008 when he worked for Inchcape Shipping Services’s ShipNet, likens the free service to Facebook and LinkedIn but says the big disadvantage with general social networks is that they are too broad.

“We are a specialist industry with its own terminology and specific networking criteria,” he said. “Industry know-how is crucial in order to succeed within industry-specific social media.”

Fosse, whose earlier background was in IT consultancy, says social networks that require introduction courses to be used are not acceptable. “The site must be very simple and efficient, yet flexible,” he said.

As its membership grows, Fosse says Shippingcluster aims to add maritime services, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) reporting, vessel performance, benchmarking and port calls.

The site has a membership base of 1,000 people and 250 companies from more than 40 countries after an official launch last June, although Fosse’s own LinkedIn page says he has been working on the concept since 2008.

“This is far above our expectations and obviously driven through word of mouth,” Fosse said. “We have given the shipping industry a communicative missing link. We have spent a great deal of time researching the needs and even more on finding the right stepping stones for how to realise this global maritime network.”

Development began last year, leading to the launch this spring.

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