It’s been a while since the last Tuesday Push. The idea behind it is to develop the Irish Tech industry in a coordinated way, by giving companies that launch a new product or service a bump in coverage. A great idea that brings welcome coverage to those trying to get their businesses off the ground.
The first pushee in this welcome return is the Irish-based social networking site IGOPeople. The IGO stands for Individuals, Groups and Organisations, and their pitch is:
IGOpeople is a network for the real world, one place online where you can stay connected with the people, groups and organisations who matter to you. Once you’re connected, you can use the network to start and join in conversations. You can have conversations with friends, groups, organisations you deal with or the wider IGOpeople network. It’s social media for real life.
The site is still in beta, meaning there are still some minor teething problems with it; but the thinking behind it is good. Including organisations was a nice idea, as it gives customers a way to interact with companies on an individual level. However, something that struck me about this approach was the risk of it becoming another support channel for companies to manage. There are web-based services (like getSatisfaction) that are designed for handling support requests. Would using these types of channels not make more sense as it keeps all similar requests in one place – doing so is also of benefit to users as it means they can learn from others mistakes before contacting customer support.
Having said that, being able to access real people inside the companies that you deal with has its advantages. For companies too, establishing relationships with users can only be a good thing as they will get a better understanding of their needs. Companies are already using the service as a promotional tool, for example PuddleDucks are offering free shipping to their network members. The Groups pages too are a useful way to interact with others of similar interests (…or names; I signed up for “The Kelly Group”).
I signed up for an account when the site first launched and have been checking in with it a bit since. I do think that achieving critical mass with this type of application is more difficult now that so many people have networks established on Facebook, Twitter, etc. The bonus is that it’s not a closed network (like Facebook) and it doesn’t limit discussion (to 140 charactrs, like Twitter). Perhaps one way of dealing with the critical mass problem is to allow people to import contacts from existing social networks (for example, BrightKite offer the ability to search for Twitter friends on sign-up).
If you haven’t seen IGOPeople yet, it’s worth heading over now and checking it out.