Anyone know of such a tool/service/API? How would you go about implementing something like this?
The idea is for a web application sort of like Facebook but for sharing stuff with your inner circle of friends and family members and with a focus on sharing sparingly – only relevant stuff. The premise here is that I still share a lot of stuff (links and media) by email with some of my closest family of friends but a) their interests vary by person/group; b) I’m fairly selective about what I send to whom; c) I’m careful not to send too often or send just any old drivel crap to my friendsbecause their time is precious.
Therefore an application with the following features might be useful to me:
1. Lets me import/create and manage a list of friends as well as tag each of them with multiple tags. Perhaps lets me invite my Facebook/Twitter friends.
2. Lets me request to follow existing users on the site and respond to similar requests from others.
3. Lets me send a link by email to a designated address with tags or friends’ names in the subject and will then share the link with friends having those tags or whose names I have specified.
4. Lets me also share items directly from the app.
5. Limits my sharing (to prevent over-sharing) by allocating a certain amount of ‘shares’ to me per week/month, which get used up each time I share. This way, I and my friends place a certain amount of value on what we share, hopefully reducing the likelihood of us ignoring things that are shared with us. The more I share and the more people I share it with, the more shares it will cost me.
6. Lets me buy more shares (perhaps).
The idea is that only the best stuff links will be shared and it will be my go-to place for seeing the stuff links that my closest friends really want me to see and I can therefore ignore most of the other stuff on Facebook and Email. Users’ invitations could read something like:
“Please join my inner circle of friends at XYZ.com, with whom I very selectively share only things that I really and truly want them to see, because I’m limited in how much and with how many people I can share. If you accept, I will only share with you what I think is relevant to you and important enough for your attention.”
Perhaps Foursquare and Gowalla already have this on their roadmaps but it seems to me that they are missing a trick right now in not including a seemingly obvious feature.
When I check-in to an establishment, the establishment should have the option of displaying to me a mini mobile website, to which it publishes content for subscription fee. The site could show me the establishment’s best selling items, special offers and coupons, which by the way I might only get if I sign-up to receiving a newsletter, follow the establishment on Twitter or become its fan on Facebook.
So the idea is to create a cookie-cutter tool for local merchants to create mini websites for their businesses. When a Foursquare or Gowalla user checks into at one of these merchants’ establishments, he or she is directed to the merchant’s mobile website.
In considering this, think not just about bars, cafes and restaurants (the dominant classes of merchant on Foursquare currently) but also of department stores, clothing stores, hotels, one-man corner shops etc. Think about how many times you have walked in and out of a store without buying anything and whether a simple nudge in the form of a special offer or coupon might have made a difference.
Revenue from this could come in two ways that I can think of:
a) Merchants could pay a subscription fee to have one of these mobile mini websites, which they can configure as needed. There could be varied pricing based on features enabled.
b) Each website could include ads from other nearby establishments, charged for on a pay per click basis. Revenue from this could be shared with the establishment generating the click. A website owner would be able to opt in or out of displaying these ads of course.
So there it is. It just seems to me that most of the thinking on Location Based Services (LBS) today focuses on advertising – how to use LBS to enable merchants to attract people to their stores; and not enough on how to actually get visitors to spend money once they are in there or at least enrich their experience so that they return in the future.
If you ever needed proof that ideas are best shared rather than protected, watch this video. In it, a caller on Jason Calacanis’ excellent online video show – This Week in Startups (aka TWIST) – pitches an idea for what would essentially be an administrative tool for schools to communicate with parents as well as a social network of sorts for secure inter-school socialising between children.
I immediately liked the administration aspect of the idea, as I could see the value in providing a calendar and alerts system for busy parents, notifying them of activities they need to attend and such like. In fact, it was an idea I had dreamed up before myself.
Jason however homed in on the social network aspect, or more specifically the mention of an inter-school exchange system. In my opinion, he totally transformed the original idea though from sort of okay to great. His idea? Well, watch the video to find out.
I cannot recommend TWIST highly enough by the way. If you are building or want to build a web start-up, it is a must watch / listen for you. Oh as for Jason who definitely has his critics, I think he demonstrates in this video (and on the show in general) just why he is as successful as he is.
It pains me to give this idea away (if there is such a thing) but no doubt people up and down the tech world are right now brainstorming copy cat or spin-off ideas to ChatRoulette and someone’s bound to have thought of this already and is probably working on it as I write.
I suppose I should first explain what ChatRoulette is – in case you are one of surely only a handful of people who haven’t heard of it in the last week or so. Basically, ChatRoulette is a Stumble Upon for live video chat. You click Play and see live streaming video from some other random user currently on the service. If you like what you see you can stay and chat – otherwise you click Next and up comes another. I think it is brilliantly innovative in its simplicity and randomness. Needless to say some of the ‘content’ on the live feeds are, er, a bit unsavoury shall we say but that only adds to the buzz around the app. And then there is the backstory that it was built by a 17 year old Russian kid just for fun.
Anyway, enough about ChatRoulette – let’s talk about my new idea which was of course inspired by ChatRoulette. The idea is to stream just audio instead of video and have people play music on their computers to their visitors. As a user, you would specify the music genres you like and will be paired people playing similar music. You would of course also have the ability to chat with users when you encounter them – assuming they stick around long enough. You might ask what track it is that is playing for example, or just ask them to marry you – whatever you wish.
The revenue model of this would obviously be around music sales and advertising. Since you would know what music genres each user is interested in, you could target ads on that basis.
The key challenge would of course be distribution as usual. How do you get the word out about this and have it spread – since unlike ChatRoulette, it doesn’t have quite the potential for notoriety to give it the same kind of legs. Still if you were to launch soon, you could piggy-back on the ChatRoulette buzz before it peaks.
How’s this for a fun (if extremely juvenile) idea for a Facebook application? An app that mimics the infamous Russian Roulette game but instead of a fatal shot to the head, the unlucky player has to post a self-demeaning Facebook status update.
Laugh as you might at this idea, something tells me it is exactly the kind of application that could do very well on Facebook. I can also think of a clever way in which the app could make money. If you want to build this app, let me know and I’ll fill you in.
Sorry I haven’t posted for a while folks – busy building something for a change. Here is a quick one (idea) – enable small businesses and individuals to tweet-in ads or classifieds during a TV programme. The solution could also be extended to cover online video, especially live ones.
Assuming you actually care what your Twitter followers think about your tweets, wouldn’t it be useful to have an app that does the following?
- Analyses your followers’ tweets and streams including the links they contain, to determine their interests and then tells you the strength of tweet you are about to post in terms of its correlation with those interests.
- Regularly displays fresh blog posts and tweets to you that your followers might like but that the majority of them have not tweeted about yet or seen in their streams.
I know, I know it’s a bit sad and if you really need a tool to tell you what to tweet then you probably don’t deserve any followers. If you are using Twitter for marketing though, as one or two (or 10 million) people do, I imagine you could find this really useful. Besides would you really bet against this sort of app becoming popular? Oh and for revenue, the app could use a combination of a freemium and ad-based model. A free ad-supported model that analyses only half your followers for example and a paid full version. Come to think of it, perhaps Twitter itself should build this tool.
- Trash Twitter on your blog and all but swear to never use it. (See my post here)
- Realise that no one cares what you think and that they all continue to rave about Twitter
- Quietly try Twitter to see what all the fuss is about
- Eat humble pie and admit publicly that you were wrong – Twitter does seem to be mildly useful after all (See update to same post above)
- Now that the awkward admission and guilt are behind you, begin using Twitter with reckless abandon, dropping hashtags and RTs everywhere (My Twitter Profile)
- Install Twitter widgets for your blog and begin auto-tweeting all your blog posts
- Become a full-fledged Twitter evangelist and write a guide or two for Twitter newbies.This will be my next post.
By the way, it is not unusual to find that the transition from step 3 to 7 takes place considerably quicker than that from 1 to 3. Such is the power of the force called Twitter.
Still on Facebook and conversion, what if people who click on your Facebook ad could be greeted with “Dear John” (or whatever their name was) when they arrived on your landing page instead of a generic “Dear Facebook User”?
Facebook would of course need a user’s permission to do this and if they hadn’t received it, Facebook could let you include a ‘Personalise this Page’ button on your landing page and you could throw in an extra discount or some other incentive for users who click it. When a user clicks the button, the generic “Dear Facebook User” greeting could then change to “Dear John” and in addition, you could optionally prompt them to invite their friends who might be more interested in the offer etc.
As a marketer I would certainly pay for something like this. Wouldn’t you?