Brought about by the recent ruckus in my place of work, I spent most of my time during the the past couple of weeks dipping my fingers on the sea of what’s new and what’s to come to find inspiration and possibly opportunities moving forward. In any case, I found myself squatting on sites like Programmable Web and Make Use Of to lookout for interesting new APIs and mashups for some of my projects in development like Little Caviar, an Asian fashion apparel store.
Scouring the rest of the web for good finds, I came about…
Another Crowdsourcing Platform
South Africa made lots of noise this year due to feats by now world-known oracle Paul the Octopus and of course Spain’s domination of the recently concluded FIFA World Cup. That aside, South Africa is bound get more buzz online (provided that all the puzzle pieces fall into place) as its native visionaries announce Evly, the first crowd sourcing social network (from SA) aiming to leverage on collective intelligence to solve people’s day to day needs and problems.
Much like Ning, Evly allows users to create free custom built sites and networks centered on common goals and interests of people. To differentiate it with similar services, Evly will be utilizing a custom-built drag-and-drop site builder to make it easy for people to build sites. Also, Evly will be populating the platform with much needed tools to help users be proactive in being part of the community building and solving process.
As Evly co-founder, Eran Eyal says, “the social web is no longer going to be about idle chatter on a platform populated by reactive users: [Evly] is about a world of PRO-active website creators and community members constantly looking to solve new problems and build solutions in an environment saturated by the right tools.”
Sad to say, Evly is still on closed beta with only 450 slots for testers. With that goes our holistic view of what they have to offer. By simply taking a look at their slogan “Build. Gather. Solve Everything,” there’s really a lot of potential for Evly to create its own identity online, apart from other social platforms like Ning, Multiply, Chipin, and Facebook, who for one allow their users to create their own sites, e-commerce stores, networks, fan pages, and/or applications.
What has gotten me really interested with this announcement is the fact that the promise can really make it easy for SMEs and small organizations to build their identity and business online. With the set of tools designed (by Evly or third party developers) for site creators and users to be more proactive, it can be a social platform, much like WordPress, with tons and tons of plug-ins to make the overall experience better–who doesn’t want better experiences right? If Evly can leverage on how hybrid communities can contribute to their cause and vice versa, it’s no doubt Evly can burst your bubble–by that I’m referring to their ability to take advantage of data and social sentiments.
To summarize, Evly is another upcoming platform, with tools, applications, and widgets, for us to create our own version of Threadless and/or Design by Humans. Though the thought is really exciting, a question remains, what’s exactly new?
To know more about Evly’s announcement, read their press release here.
On the other hand, what can be game changing?
What’s new–that’s exactly what I have been looking for during the past weeks, and though there’s a new Twitter it’s nothing close to shaking up the whole web. Not even Google Instant, which to some extent changes the way we search.
On a simpler, less site-wide note, I’d like to throw my thoughts and ideas as to how sites, especially stores like Amazon and eBay has yet to roll out emotionally intelligent systems to help users decide better during the buying processes and decisions in general. Rating systems, social mentions, and reviews will always be popular, but something platforms like Evly should look at is to how they can change the social networking game–can they leverage on data beyond traditional metrics and click through rates to provide users with a unique experience ?
I’d say think simple–something really simple that outlines the value of your proposition.
Have you guys seen how Fflick simplifies movie reviews and recommendations? How Analyze Words tells me the emotional context behind my tweets in one glance? Pretty neat huh?
These types of executions definitely provide fresh and unique content e-commerce platforms (and other sites in general) can add to their oh-so-usual product pages. Now aside from selling more, that’s what you call unique content building–holler SEOs!
What you call game changing is not about creating another viable option, or building another property like so and so. It’s about creating a new, simple, and yet holistic ways to experience things. And in my opinion, the social+emotional+personal route should be the way to go, here’s why:
Yes, yes, we get it, your leveraging on the wisdom of crowds, but what’s beyond your growing user base, free content, and site activity? Aside from knowing your monthly gross income, how much do you know about your community? How about the relationships and interactions that grew within your network? Do you know how they started? Can you build a choice architecture around their group to suggest new ways to grow their organization? I suggest you track, track, and track!
You’ll need all the information and insights to just keep you head above water.
Great that you have lots of activity going on your site, but what exactly are you doing out of each post, tweet, feeb, and reaction? I’m sure you’ve got one big data center where you keep all of them but don’t let all go to waste, get your best analysts and psychologists to find out the emotional context behind all of them.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know how each of your users feel day to day? How your network feels as a whole? Now that’s a clear competitive and product development advantage!
Check out LIWC, it might just be the tool you need for contextual analysis needs.
Username check! First name check! Last name check! Email check! Password Check!
Seems like you’ve acquired all the details you need from your users. That’s good, but what’s better is if we can correlate all of your members’ data and activities with his/her social and emotional data. Now that’s real push and pull data–you pinpoint your influencers and the type of people they influence best. Sweet!
So what do I get from all of these? Possibilities–that’s the only thing I can think of right now–any thoughts?
The bottom line here is not just about understanding the social+emotional+personal aspect to improve your business and users’ experiences. More than that, studying these aspects actually brings us a step closer to understanding trust.
Yes, you heard me right. Trust. Now when was that never important? Look at the way eBay Trust and Multiply Trust are built–is this how you perceived trust should be used as a selling proposition? Well yeah, I do agree that their propositions help users be at ease when buying to some extent, but can they actually do more? Totally!
Here’s an example:
How about if Amazon runs through all of their product reviews in an algorithmic system that basically tells a customer in one glance whether a product is worth buying or not (in the form of a cool infographic perhaps), or in eBay’s case if a store is worth buying from? Couple that with real friends sentiments towards a product or store? Wouldn’t that be great? Who would want to read through tens to hundreds of written reviews and testimonials? Call your usability expert I say!
On an ending note…
I’m sure that by knowing what others think and feel towards a certain service or product is very helpful advice, but I do think that by knowing what your peers think and feel is better, if not as valuable as the aforementioned.
My goal here is to actually share an idea that can change the way sites communicate with people by actually studying the social, emotional, and personal context of their activities. At this point however, I find my case best applied to e-commerce platforms and organizational sites looking for funding.
In your case, how do you plan on maximizing data at hand to give you a hand at improving your product? What kind of visual treatment would you use to present your data? How will you use it to provide fresh new content different from competitors selling similar services or products?
Any thoughts from the crowd?
On a side note, lots of people have been talking about how Social Media is the Search killer, but looking back at the social+emotional+personal equation, is search really far off? We’ve got social and personal search working at least, perhaps search engines should look into emotional search behaviors as well to improve the whole search experience?