This week we feature the interview with Fraser Kelton, working at new and exciting social media project Glue, developed by AdaptiveBlue.
1. Please share your background. What brought you to the Web 2.0? Also please tell us a few words about your [other] projects you were doing before joining AdaptiveBlue.
I’m originally from Hamilton, a beautiful Canadian city, an hour southwest of Toronto. I’ve been fascinated with computers since my first Commodore 64 and I’ve been addicted to the web since my first taste. Before joining AdaptiveBlue I was at a seed stage investment firm.
2. You’ve been with AdaptiveBlue since September, 2007. Can you describe the company? What have you been responsible for there?
AdaptiveBlue was founded in 2006 by Alex Iskold with the goal of creating a better web browsing experience by using semantic and personalization technologies.
Basically, the web is fairly dumb – it doesn’t know what you’re looking at, or who you are – and because of this a lot of what we take for granted in the physical world is lost on the web. By utilizing semantics it’s possible for your computer to understand what you are looking at online. It’s possible to automate intelligent ‘next steps’ for the user by combining this understanding with some level of personalization.
Our product, Glue, works hard to make life easier for you on the web. When you’re looking at a movie on a popular site Glue automates a lot of the hard work – it shows you which friends like the movie (and what they thought), it allows you to add it to your queue without leaving the page, you can watch clips from the movie, read a summary of the movie, etc.
Glue works across hundreds of popular sites within a number of categories – things like books, movies, music, and other everyday things that we visit online.
3. How was the idea of Glue born? How is it different from all other Web 2.0 platforms?
There are three unique benefits to Glue.
First, the service is contextual. We share a lot of information on the web. But very little of it is presented to us in a useful place at a useful time. When’s the best time for me to know that you like a movie that I may go see in the theater? It’s not when I’m looking at my Facebook newsfeed at 10 am on Tuesday morning. That information is most valuable when I’m looking at the movie on Fandango, deciding if I should go see it or not. Glue introduces context to the information that we share about the books, movies and music that we like. It brings the information to us, where and when it makes sense.
Second, the information in Glue appears automatically. When I browse to the movie’s page on Fandango, Glue appears automatically with the useful information.
Third, Glue is a web-wide network on top of popular sites about books, movies, music, etc. The benefits of Glue are delivered as you browse these sites like we all typically do.
4. I understand the idea behind the project name (plenty of possibilities for word play with "sticking" concept). Do you foresee any problems with online reputation management though? There are plenty completely irrelevant sites found for [Glue] search in Google (compare to "Twitter" for example).
We were slightly concerned with this before we launched. In the short-term, the truth is that initial growth comes from word-of-mouth that’s generated by a great product. If you tell your friend that Glue rocks – and pass them a link via email, twitter or facebook – then we win.
Additionally, because Glue is a browser add-on it’s not mission critical for us to have the best domain name. GetGlue.com works for our need nearly as well as Glue.com would (and was significantly less dollars to purchase).
We had a great moment recently – when users search for Glue on Google we are now the top search result, even above the Wikipedia entry for glue.
We have run into a problem when trying to track the word in real time search. Searching Twitter for Glue produces a lot of noise that we have to dig through to find the relevant signal. It’s not insurmountable and we’ve found that if a message is important it finds us.
5. Launching a new project is exciting. How do you (plan to) promote it?
We’ve recently launched a number of exciting new things – Glue was made available for Internet Explorer, we launched our API, and we released new support for the broad category of Topics.
Because of the unique benefit that Glue delivers we get a decent amount of press from top sites. We’ve also been lucky to capture the attention of influential early adopters. This buzz and coverage continues to drive interest in the product.
We also run an incredibly fun game through a twitter account that is one week-long puzzle. Contestants have to piece together clues to complete the game. Everyone who completes the game is entered into a drawing for free books, movies, and music.
Finally, we’re really working hard to encourage and support word-of-mouth. We have a page set-up where users can easily share the site with their friends or request free stickers and t-shirts.
6. One most thing that amazed me most was Glue interaction with members. You got in contact with me immediately after I Twittered about my joining the site. One of your employees emailed me a day later asking for the feedback. Can you describe in detail this strategy of yours. How do you incorporate social media?
This is a key strategy for us. Our community is invaluable and we really wouldn’t be where we are today without the support, feedback and contribution from our growing community (we call them Glue-rs). We use different types of social media to engage with the individuals who use Glue and help ensure that they are getting the most from the product. It’s a funny thought that customer service can be a competitive advantage but we’re seeing that that really is the case!