Social Follow is a cool new web application that combines all of your other social networking and social bookmarking profiles. I’m sure we all have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, and many other profiles around the net. With SocialFollow, you are able to combine all of these profiles into one handy button. These are great for posting to your blog, sharing in your forum sigs, or posting it anywhere around the web!
Joining SocialFollow is completely free, and it’s a really neat application to play around with. I got an interview with the creator of Social Follow Rafferty Pendery, to get a bit more in-depth info about this web 2.0 profile database!
Can you describe the purpose behind SocialFollow? What can users do on the site?
The purpose of Social Follow is to allow users to elegantly link to all their social profiles from one easy to use, customizable button rather than having to clutter their site with icons. Users are able to create a free account at www.SocialFollow.com, click “Create Button” and enter the links to the social accounts they have. They are given a small piece of code to copy and paste to their website or blog and the Social Follow button will appear on their website. They are able to log back into SocialFollow and edit their button, changing the links, adding some or deleting and every site they have posted their button on will automatically be updated to reflect those changes as soon a new visitor comes to the site.
Once signing up, users will be given their own profile on the website. From here, what type of information can be added?
As part of creating the button, users are able to add (optional) a Social Follow profile at the same time. The user will be able to fill in a display name which becomes the URL for their page, for example my display name is Rafferty Pendery and the url to my profile page is: www.socialfollow.com/profiles/rafferty-pendery. This, and many other factors we have built into the profile pages ensure that the pages are maximally optimized for exposure through the search engines. Users are able to hook up their twitter and blog feeds to their profile page. When they do this, the 5 most recent Twitter posts and 3 most recent blog posts are featured on their profile page, gaining more exposure for their content.
How did you get the original concept for SocialFollow? What were the early days of development like?
The original concept for Social Follow came about when creating a custom website for one of our clients (through my marketing company, Studio98). They had 7 social profiles they wanted to link to from their website. The only option was to create an icon for each social site and they ended up taking up the whole bottom portion of her website. I realized that there could be a much better way to do this…so Social Follow was born.
I got the idea to create Social Follow in mid April 2009. I knew we had to get this up and running now otherwise someone else would jump on the opportunity. It was only 2 weeks from the point of the idea to our initial live Beta testing. This was a very very busy 2 weeks, but was definitely worth it.
About how many members are there on SocialFollow?
The main statistic we are keeping track of are total number of button impressions across all websites and blogs using Social Follow. This means the total # of times the Social Follow button shows up on someones website that has posted the button on their site/blog. In our first 2 weeks we had 10,000 button impressions and were were thrilled. We are 2 months into our launch and have received more than half a million button impressions and are getting more than 25,000 per day at this point.
The site is growing exponentially with more people signing up, then blogging and tweeting about it every day. The support from the users has been fantastic and so we constantly work to improve the tool and system for the users to give them what they want.
What were some of your biggest challenges when building the application?
Making the button easy to set up and add to a website was one of the biggest challenges. We didn’t want people to have to copy and paste a huge piece of code into their website which lagged it or have to copy and paste the code again and again as they update their buttons.
Compatibility across websites and blogs was another issue. Any time you get into developing a system that has this potential to grow, you really have to simplify the whole process beyond what you would ever think would be needed. You’re not just dealing with super-savvy internet marketers or Social media gurus in their field and so have to make it fair for all users.
What are some sites that inspired you to build SocialFollow? Is there any site that stands out as being a large influence?
AddThis.com was definitely our biggest inspiration. I got the idea of how it should be laid out from their site. We have used their button many times on blogs we have installed for clients. We have the added complexity of the fact that our users can fully customize their button, but it was great to have their site to look at as a model.
Some people have even written that our button is like the AddThis button. The funny thing is that it does look similar, it just has pretty much the opposite functionality. Theirs allows users to post your content on their social sites, and the Social Follow button allows users to connect with you through your other social profiles.
How can the SocialFollow applet be integrated into different types of sites such as WordPress Blogs and forums?
Owners of blogs and forums can follow the easy process of creating an account and button on our site. They then copy and paste the code given to them on their site where they want the button to show up and voila, they are done. That is from the standpoint of the blog and forum owners. We are up for suggestions of how users of blogs and forums could use social follow to enhance their website experience, we just haven’t come up with specific ideas for that yet.
When users create a blog on a website like blogger for the most part the button should work, we are going to be building some plug-ins for different blog platforms to make it more compatible.
What type of feedback have you been getting from users of the application?
Love. We have been getting so much support from the users of our application. They are the ones that have really caused Social Follow to start going viral. We give the users the ability to suggest new social websites that we don’t have on the list. Our list consists of a couple hundred social sites (although we have a list of over 600 we have researched out). We want to see which ones are valuable for users and through this feedback we are making the system better.
Studio98, my marketing company, has many strengths in the development of web based systems and Social Follow is a great example of this.
What is your favorite web 2.0 website and why?
My favorite web 2.0 site… that’s a tough one. I will have to say some of my top favorites are Facebook, www.Go2web20.net and Twitter.
If you had any advice for someone creating their own web 2.0 app, what would it be?
If you have an idea that is unique which can give users the ability to do something valuable on the net, get it made now. Timing is seriously important on the internet specifically. It doesn’t honestly take a long time to build a great system or tool, it just takes working at it and making it a priority as much as possible.
If you aren’t a developer yourself of have one handy, hire a company to develop one for you. Make the commitment and get it done.