Yammer Understands Not Everyone Wants To Use The Web Site

At Clearspring, we’ve been playing around pretty heavily with the internal work-place Twitter-like app Yammer.

One thing I’ve been really impressed with is the number of different ways you can send content through the system.  I’ve downloaded their AIR desktop app and installed their iPhone app.  I rarely use their Web site.

Check out the blog post they did on the different mediums they’ve enabled.

Since day one, Yammer has enabled you to send and receive updates through your choice of 7 different mediums. The reason for providing such a vast arsenal is for you to feel comfortable and confident that you can communicate with co-workers anytime, no matter your location or working preferences.

By encouraging me to use the app where I want to use it and not necessarily via it’s Web site, I think Yammer will become ultimately more successful.

I know it sounds so counter intuitive.  Someone’s thinking, “you mean you want me to encourage people to not use my Web site? What?!?!”  Yep.  That’s exactly what I’m saying.

If you put content or functionality or allow it to be put, where folks want it,  you’re going to get more heavily engaged users.

For example, when I was at the Library of Congress, I got to see the wealth of amazing content that they get to handle and work with on a daily basis.  I was continually in awe.  They continue to digitize and put content on their Web site and while there is absolutely a dedicated audience that uses the Web site, it doesn’t seem to capture the national and world-wide imagination to the extend that it could.

In mid-January of 2008, there was a team at the Library of Congress that took 3000 amazing photographs and loaded them into Flickr.    Where do you go if you love photos?  Flickr.

Well the project captured the national and world’s imagination in a way that I had never seen before.  I think the last publicly released statistic was that they had reached 8.5 million views for these photos.  That’s AMAZING.

So… if you’re pushin content online, creating a Web app, or some new online business, what’s your distribution strategy?  How are you going to get your users to share content all over the Web?  Are you going to give up control and let your users use your content and functionality where and how they want to?

Twitter, Retweeting, and Sharing

The social Web has really redefined the Web in a way that we haven’t really seen since the onset of online search.  People are using their online friends to find information online and as a filter to what is and isn’t important.

Twitter has really established itself as a popular townsquare.  This is a venue where people come together to share their status, thoughts, and cool things they find.

It’s a platform for sharing.

My buddy Shel wrote a really cool post about a phenomenom that we’re seeing crop up… retweeting. It’s where one person shares a cool link or insight on Twitter and then someone sees that  and ones to share that tweet in it’s entirety with their friends.

Retweeting allows thoughts to be shared from one group of people to another and maybe to another.  This gives my thoughts and ideas or maybe the thoughts of others that I want to share a potentially endless reach and the ability to reach audiences that they would’ve never otherwise gotten to.

What’d be cool if they created an interface element within Twitter that’d make it be easier to retweet something, like they currently have for favoriting and replying.

Broadcasting My Sister’s Wedding Live on Ustream

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of broadcasting events live over the Web but never really had the opportunity.  When I jokingly suggested that my sister let me broadcast her wedding, I totally excpected her to say “no way in heck.”  She blew me away and said yes. 🙂

My sister and her now husband Adam have some good friends in Bosnia, where they’d done some mission work together, that wouldn’t be able to make it to the wedding.  Broadcasting the wedding on the Web would be perfect for them.

I chose Ustream.  I had used them before to watch other events.  I have a few friends that use them  A LOT and speak highly of them.  Plus I’d met and gotten to know some of the staff at Ustream at various industry events that I’d been to.

It was SUPER easy to setup.  I literally plugged an old iSight camera into m MacBook pro.  I went to Ustream.  I hit broadcast and record.  That was it.   You can now watch the video right on Ustream.

Friends from around the country and around the world were able to join us for this incredibly exciting event.  Ustream helped to bring my sisters “global neighborhood” together.

I’m truly blown away by how easy it was.

More and more in our lives, we’re creating personal communities for ourselves that transcencds the typical local geographic boundaries.  As was demonstrated this weekend, we can now share the experiences we have in our life with our entire community, not just the folks that can physically be there.

So… we can broadcast weddings live online.  What’s next? Someone’s already done a birth, which is kind of gross.  Gary Vaynerchuk does a great job of using ustream to talk to his community during breaks he has during his day to day.

What else?

Clearspring CEO Hooman Radfar on “Clearspring + AddThis = Universal Sharing”

So… as you all know, this morning, Clearspring announced its acquistion of AddThis.  Well our CEO Hooman Radfar has just recently published a blog post about it, which I think is worth reading.

Here’s an excerpt…

Our vision is to create an open sharing platform connecting publishers, advertisers, and developers. This platform will enable a true first on the web – enabling users to leverage any web-based service from within the context of any application, anywhere. As we move towards this vision, Clearspring will continue deliver the best widget distribution and monetization services possible and AddThis will continue it’s run towards the goal of becoming the most ubiquitous sharing tool for publishers. Shortly, however, you will start to see the beginnings of this vision come to life.

Fitting Into My Routine

I’m a classic early adopter.  I love to try new things.  Especially with my current job, I’m getting private beta codes to new Web apps all the time.

If I had one piece of advice to new startups who were building a product, I’d remind them that their goal is to try and fit into your user’s routine.

So often I try an new product for a week. I’ll often really intend to want to use it long term but it never becomes part of my routine.  After the week is over, I’ll have forgotten about it.  Sadly, this happens all to often.

The trick is… you need to find a way to piggy back on top of a users existing behavior.  Instead of asking the user to do some complete new thing for you, find a way to capture their existing activity for your own means.  This will increase the likelyhood of success.

Also… I already have about 20 tabs open in Safari at any given time.  Is your Web app going to expect me to have anothe open?  Does it have to?  Could it be a widget that I can stick on my iGoogle page?  I use iGoogle as a page where I can aggregate lots of that type of information so I don’t have to have as many tabs open in Firefox.

I guess the moral of the story is that if you want to build a successful product I think it’s important to spend time thinkin about how your product fits into the life of your user.

JamLegend – Rock out with this game that’s Guitar Hero meets Scrabulous

Music is definitely a major part of my life. Whether it’s bobbing my head with my headphones plugged into my iPhone or when I’m at a concert and dancing to the band jamming out, I’m wanting to feel it and understand it. There is something human… honest about the emotion that expressed in music. You want to feel that emotion and connect with the music

While I’ve never played the game Guitar Hero, I understand the idea and how it allows me to sit in the shoes of the guitarist and feel what they feel.

JamLegend is a game that was created by my friends Andrew, Arjun, and Ryan. It takes the notion of Guitar Hero, you playing with the song, and brings it to your computer in a free and very accessible/fun way. It allows me to connect to the music.

In the game, you’ll see the notes flying down the screen and then you have play along using the number keys and the guitar frets and the enter key as the strumming.  You can play it by yourself or you can play against your friends.

I’ll admit at first I was very skeptical but then they gave me an invite and I started playing. Friday night at the airport on my way back to DC the time flew by because I was rocking out playing JamLegend the entire time.  I was/am hooked.

The current music library is limited to about 20+ songs but I’m confident more will come soon.  Right now it’s just independent artists… I’m kind of hoping that they just stick with independent artists. If you check out their Web site, bands can actually work with them to get their music signed up.

Getting your music into this game seems like it’d be a boon for a band.  The game is going to be a HUGE success and right now you have the possibility of getting in on the ground floor and getting maximum exposure.  Plus when I was done playing the different songs I was thinking to myself, “I should buy this album.”

So… check out JamLegend. Request to get into the private beta or be really nice to me and ask me for one of my few invites.  I know you’ll love it and connect with music in an renewed way.

Washington DC’s JamLegend Featured in TechCrunch

Congrats to Andrew, Arjun, and Ryan, from Washington DC-based Web start-up JamLegend.  Yesterday, their company was featured in leading Web 2.0 blog TechCrunch.

One of the most promising startups to come out of the LaunchBox incubator is JamLegend, a music site with mass appeal. JamLegend takes the familiar anyone-can-be-a-rockstar model made popular by videogames like Guitar Hero and Rock Band and puts it on the Web.

These guys rock!  They have an incredibly contagious passion for what they’re doing.  I’m confident they’ll go far.

Congrats to Matt & the Crew from Socialthing! for Getting Acquired by AOL!

Congrats to CEO Matt Galligan and the crew at Socialthing! TechCrunch is reporting that they have been acquired by AOL!

AOL is getting into the lifestreaming business. Like Friendfeed or Facebook’s News feeds, it recently launched AIM BuddyUpdates, which lets AIM users keep up with what their instant-messaging buddies are doing on social services such as Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Digg. To beef up its lifestreaming capabilities, we have been able to confirm that it has also bought Socialthing!, a FriendFeed competitor that is still in private beta.

I remember meeting Matt and the rest of the crew at their booth at this year’s South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival and then their party.  You could right away tell that these guys were cool and that they were on to something.

After SXSW, it was great to see all the new features they pushed out and the positive press.  AOL must have noticed.

I hope that them getting acquired by AOL means that they’ll be out in Virginia (by us) more often.

Have you tried Socialthing? If so, what do you think?

When you shouldn’t create an iPhone app…

So… yesterday, when I found the link to get early access to the iPhone 2.0 software, of course I tried it and loaded it up right away.  (Yes, I am that guy.)

I then proceeded to download a bunch of apps to my phone.

Now there are just some apps that I don’t get why they are apps.  For example, there is Facebook and the New York Times.  Their iPhone apps are almost exactly the same as their iPhone Web site.

As the implementations of mobile Web browsers improve across mobile phones, increasing the use of new Web technologies (better CSS and JavaScript), there is a chance you’ll be able to use the iPhone Web site again.

I can’t imagine that Apple will ever license the iPhone OS so you’ll never be able to see your iPhone app used on anything but an iPhone.

Now I can understand Sega’s Super Monkeyball.  That is a REALLY fun game for the iPhone.  I can’t imagine you’ll be able to do that with a browser for a long long long time so I understand if you wanna make that an iPhone app.

But… why does Twitteriffic need to be an iPhone app? Didn’t we get EXACTLY the same thing with Hahlo?  Actually, I think Hahlo has more and better functionality.

With iPhone 3G, a lot of the speed, responsiveness, and interactivity issues with iPhone Web sites should be resolved.

Yeah… so when you start to think about time and resources around whether your company should build an iPhone app, ask yourself whether or not you’re doing it because it’s cool or you’ll get a lot of people to use it.

Am I crazy?  What do you think?