New Social Network Connects People's Interests Rather Than People

by Dan Verhaeghe | Culture

In social media today and wherever we go on the Internet it is increasingly difficult to avoid the presence of information we provide following us back around in different ways.

It is based on our browsing history, the public information we reveal, likes, shares, interests, and more. Some are against these methodologies because they dislike advertising and the way it currently works on social media, in display advertising, and increasingly with real-time video ad exchanges.

Seattle-based cyPOP is using semantics though to be a more innovative social media network than Pinterest, for example. That’s beyond just searching for something inspirational by category, liking it, and re-pinning it.

With cyPOP, the information finds you rather than you finding it. The technology is called “interest mapping” which connects people based on interests, and not by who you know through virtual forums. Interest mapping is visualized through a user-friendly “language” of blocks of various colours and sizes that also function as a navigational tool on the service.

Visitors of the site communicate via cafés (live group discussions), and folios (a collection of pictures, articles, videos, and more). A bookmarklet allows users to capture anything from the web to put on cyPOP. Users can be public or private if they wish.

An Internet where information finds us accurately versus us having to search for it is progressive. That’s considering the fact Uberflip’s Aailyah Madadi recently said in a blog post that 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years alone.

This is better than being bombarded by the thousands of messages a common city dweller sees any given day. It’s also better than searching through the more than three exabytes of new data created every day. (An exabyte is a unit of information equal to one billion gigabytes.)

The company had over 300,000 users try the social network in a month-long closed beta. According to the company, Canadian users represented 11% of that number.

The inspiration behind the site comes from the unique Korean Café concept. If you have ever been to South Korea, people leave things on the walls of coffee shops and continue to “add on” in a collectivist manner. In recent years we have also seen the explosion of coffee shops turning into digital cafés.

“One of our co-founders, Josie Baik, recognized a void in much of our social communities in the U.S. as compared to Korea,” says the company's CEO, Glenn Walker. “Digital communities go beyond simply who you know and venture deeper into connecting with others by localizing and expanding on the café concept.”

While Pinterest might only allow you to communicate visually, cyPOP allows you to communicate through words and visually. The “connected generation” especially is very visual in nature but some people still prefer to read. If one is allowed to communicate in any shape or form as cyPOP is offering, there is a greater chance for successful collaboration that may spark innovative and creative ideas.

Pinterest is a great thing to browse through if you are searching for inspiration. So why not let a social media network find it for you and then allow you to create inspiration and innovation at the same time?

Another earlier example I posted about information finding you rather than you searching for it known as the field of “semantics” includes Montreal-based UrbanOrca. It initially found success in New York and San Francisco as users searched for other people based on similar interests, hobbies, and passions within local areas.

Since acquiring venture capital funding, the startup has been renamed Bunch. It now aims to connect you to online communities for your passions.

It has been difficult for social media networks to understand how to otherwise monetize versus through the use of display ad retargeting. cyPOP sheds some light on the revenue issues that have prevented Facebook from becoming the $100 billion dollar company some anticipated them to be on Wall Street.

“From a business perspective, cyPOP provides a unique digital destination for organizations to interact with current and potential customers through branded online cafés that facilitate loyalty building and participation," further added the company in a press release. “Most notably, cyPop allows brands to interact equally as individuals would within cafes and folios on the platform, unlike almost every other social networking service. Ultimately, cyPOP aims to provide analytics-centered data for participating companies for use in building advertising.”

For companies looking to find some sustainable revenue models, analytics-centered data has seemed to be the way to go. I recently profiled Toronto’s Venngage that allows information workers to quickly put together visualizations of their data.

That’s in addition to how Trendhunter makes some of their money in selling trend reports to organizations. cyPOP's advertising solutions would differ because companies would be building advertising based on unique analytics gained from a site that connects people with interests versus connecting people with people.

It’s already been popular to put together sentiments from public Twitter data across the world to more accurately predict the outcome of elections as we mentioned back in the fall of 2011. While that’s just one example, public Twitter data has been used to “visualize” a number of different things for curious organizations and researchers across the world.

Communication is critical for this is a time where Internet and social media have changed the psychology behind communication. We have seen how social media has increasingly divided the world through the mass explosion of media. But now I see how communication platforms can be bridged together through innovative networks like cyPOP to connect people back together once more. It is like the reverse-engineering of social media.

cyPOP is shooting for the moon: 60 million users in the US alone by 2016.

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Dan Verhaeghe

Dan Verhaeghe

Dan Verhaeghe focuses on marketing, mobile, major technology players, entertainment, and new media. Dan has a dozen years of online experience that dates back to the turn of the millennium where he dominated a now non-existent online RPG game for a couple of years at the age of 15. He would eventually become a Toronto Blue Jays blogger who earned his way into Toronto's CP24 studios six years... more

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