Revenue-Sharing ‘Interest Network’ Invites Users to Chime In

There’s a new social network in town — Chime.in, the brainchild of Bill Gross, known for creating Google’s AdWords platform. Gross is the CEO ofUberMedia, the developer of popular Twitter clients Echofon and Ubersocial.

Chime.in launched as a public beta on Tuesday and will fully launch in November.

Offering a new twist in social networking, Chime.in will share half its advertising revenue from a user’s page with the user. Chime.in allows users to sign in with an existing Facebook or Twitter account.

The new contender shares some features with the current roster of social network competitors, including a news feed, a panel indicating who is online, messages and updates. Gross has dubbed the new creation an “interest network” rather than a social network since its focus is on user interests.

Chime.in intends to reduce the noise of social media. The network’s algorithms are designed to recommend groups and ideas based on the user’s personal interests. The idea is to make sure people are not overwhelmed with irrelevant content.

Users label their “Chimes” with up to five interest tags that determine what gets posted on their page. Major companies including Disney, E!, Bravo and Universal have already signed on as Chime.in partners.

Relevance and Engagement

In order for Chime.in to gain an audience, the site will have to differentiate itself from the countless online choices that already support individual interests.

“To succeed, Chime.in needs to be relevant,” Jon Kraft, COO of UberMedia, told the E-Commerce Times. “There is significant information overload and signal-to-noise problems in leading social media platforms today, so I think the most important element is relevance. That’s what we have focused on.”

Chime.in is designed to provide the information that people are truly interested in, while minimizing the noise, noted Kraft. It will also have to grab and hold visitors.

“Engagement is priority,” he said. “There have to be opportunities to engage around those interest areas — and the engagement has to be rewarding to the user.”

There is room for a new social network, Kraft maintained.

“We feel that combining relevance and engagement creates a new kind of social network that we refer to as an ‘interest network,'” he said.

It will be difficult to find users and hold their interest, Kraft acknowledges, but he believes the site will gain stickiness organically. That worked for Facebook.

“Just like any new product, the biggest challenge is getting people’s attention and educating them about the benefits and value of the Chime.in network,” said Kraft. Based on early feedback, we think word of mouth is going to be very strong here.”

Income Sharing Could Help

One of the most engaging factors Chime.in has going for it is the concept of dispersing ad revenue to users. There are a zillion bloggers who may want to try their hand at posting to gain ads and dollars.

“The Chime.in premise is intriguing — that people who post interesting and popular content should share in the profits that the content brings in,” Azita Arvani, principal of Arvani Group, told the E-Commerce Times. “Content providers can even get all of the profits from advertising on a page if they sell the real estate themselves.”

Even so, it will be extremely challenging to get a critical mass of folks to sign up and create profiles on a brand new social networking site, she added.

“I know many who don’t want to do that for Google+, even with all its features,” Arvani pointed out. “So, incentivizing folks for their compelling content is a good idea. It might help bring content providers to the site.”

If profit sharing becomes a successful incentive, the concept could spread. Other social network sites may have to go along with the idea out of self defense.

“Despite the challenges, the existence of this model may pressure the likes of Facebook to share in the profits with the content owners,” suggested Arvani.

Out of Left Field

One aspect of the Chime-in launch that may help is the surprise factor. Boom, out of nowhere, a major player in online traffic launches a new idea.

“Chime.in sort of came out of nowhere. My guess is that was the point — the sudden launch gets attention,” Steven Savage, technology project manager and Geek 2.0 blogger, told the E-Commerce Times. “It will need the proper balance of ‘just like’ and ‘not like’ other social network sites. It has to be close enough to what people know and different enough to matter.”

People are burned out on the one big thing — Facebook — and are looking for something that just works, Savage said. “We have accepted there’ll need to be multiple networks. There may be an in for Chime.in.”

Still, there is a limit to how many social options users will even consider.

“The biggest challenge will be apathy,” said Savage. “People have seen it all before. There are new announcements all the time, and people don’t care as much as they used to.”

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