Social Startups: Follr Is the Tie that Binds All Your Social Profiles, Content, and Communities Together
Wait. What? You're still carrying around a stack of business cards-yours and those from new contacts? Whew. Me, too. I thought I was the only one living in the 20th Century. They're still such an important part of every business meeting, professional lunch, or conference-no matter your job. How else could you quickly swap contact information and turn an acquaintance into a valuable, lasting connection?
"What a pointless 'custom' it is to exchange business cards. What we do is head back to the office and-if we remember-try and search for all the profiles to connect with each other on a slew of social networks," says Mark Wayman, co-founder of Follr, the networking platform that unifies all your web profiles, content, and communities. "Why not have one, memorable Website address that contains all your background information, links, and content? By having one address to use everywhere, it can always be accurate and dynamic."
So no matter what you change-a profile address, join a new network, update your description, land a new job, get another phone number-your Follr address will always be the one place to send contacts for your most current information. The "My Story" section encapsulates it all, from your earliest days to latest endeavors, in an interactive timeline that combines photos, audio/video, and content.
Simply ask your contacts to follow you ... er ... Follr you for short. Wayman's profile address is http://follr.me/mark or, "Follow Me, Mark," and it contains all of the details he curated about his history and present activities. The colors of the logo represent how Follr is the "glue" that pulls all of the disparate information together into one place.
It would make no sense for me to include links in this article to any of Wayman's many social profiles except his personally branded Follr Website. As the initial point of contact for him, you can see all of his social profiles and click them to visit-from Facebook, Foursquare and Klout to LinkedIn, Quora, and Twitter. The Follr website is there, too, of course. The same goes for his co-founders, Stephen Fells and Jeff Roberts.
"I was driving back from a meeting with Lionsgate about creating a Facebook app for Nurse Jackie. My Lionsgate contact and I had exchanged many emails and spoken on the phone prior to meeting. We met, had a great chat, exchanged business cards, and left," says Wayman, whose company, Social Gears, explores social application opportunities through Facebook. "If he would have given me a card with his Follr address or included it in his email signature, I would have easily been able to connect with him and learn all about his background by looking at what he chose to add. His story versus leaving my perception of him to random search engine results."
Follr's capabilities don't end at aggregating of all your web information and being a natural extension of your physical business card. "Creating a communication system around a common subject (group/forum/discussion threads) is one of the oldest uses of the Internet. Being able to connect, learn, and share information is foundational to how we use technology," Wayman says. "We looked at the history of groups, what is available today, and we're creating a compelling and unique approach to building and growing an online community."
The platform's community software allows anyone to create a community for a few people to a few million. On the lower end, it offers a better solution than a service like Meetup, except it's free to setup a community for your group. On the higher end, it's competing with services like Lithium.
"Our communities are highly configurable, allowing even the biggest brands to create a high-quality site in just minutes, such as the World of War Craft or Game of Thrones communities," he says about the Made in Oakland and New York social startup. "Ultimately, joining a community is about your relationship with other community members. Follr uniquely offers detailed profiles that allow members to really showcase who they are, what they care about, and how they think."
Community admins can aggregate all existing social media content into one place via a social wall for better content engagement. An admin can also post an update once to appear on the community, and choose to have it automatically post to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to save time.
"Consider other solutions like LinkedIn groups and Facebook pages," says Wayman. "Content posted to these groups is typically lost into a noisy, shared network of competing messages. Facebook's recent decision to insert a paywall between page administrators and their own audience has caused much concern and is a major opportunity for us."
Four Near-Future Features of Follr:
Living Events - Incorporates events within a community to encourage ongoing participation before, during, and after the event. Paid ticketing and mobile application are future features of this tool.
Connected Communities - Enables a top down organization to easily share content, messages, connections, and social media. One organization with multiple locations/chapters will each have autonomy but also be part of an overarching organization. Complimentary communities will also be able to connect as peers for the benefit of both communities.
Paid Communities - Admins will be able to setup a paywall and charge members to gain access. This will come in two flavors: one is a gateway to the community in total, while the other allows members to join but contains paid features that a member would need to pay to access.
Embedded Communities - Follr Community functionality will run on existing Websites transforming them from a pure "transactional" Website to engaging communities.
Wayman says there is also an opportunity for Follr to be used by large enterprises internally to connect resources, expose and share hidden talent, and provide knowledge to all layers of management.
Ready to join the 21st century with a virtual business card? If you build a Follr professional network, you'll get rewarded for doing so. You can also invite friends, and earn points and Follr Dollars that you can use for Follr upgrades and add-ons.
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