I just came back from a fabulous few days in warm(ish) Victoria, B.C., where I had the privilege of interviewing several fascinating entrepreneurs. It is soooo much easier to get good sound on a podcast when you can be in the same room as the person you are interviewing!
Today’s interview is with Stephen Harris, the Chief Operating Officer of brand new startup, TicTalking.
The site is a place for conversations, and the goal is to help people find others worldwide who share their interests, and to broaden their horizons as they join in other conversations. Stephen likens it to a cocktail party, but one where the conversations aren’t just superficial. A conversational version of Pinterest.
If they can make it work (and I discuss in and after the interview a key element to making that happen), it has tremendous revenue potential. Advertisers will be able to laser-focus their ads on people discussing the very topics that are relevant to the advertiser’s products. And they’ll know exactly what the audience is thinking about products like theirs. As Stephen says in the interview, think how much more effective an ad can be if the advertiser knows he likes to get muddy while getting his exercise riding up mountain trails on a bicycle. Have we got the bike for you!
Key Takeaways: Audience, Contests & Culture
- Your audience may not be who you thought it would be. TicTalking thought their main user base would be women in their thirties and forties. Having been one of those, I realized instantly what his company soon discovered: women that age are way too busy to spend time chatting with strangers online. (Unless those chats are solving urgent problems, like how to get their kids to stop nagging!) It’s OK if your audience isn’t who you expected. Just revise your plans to flow with the new reality!
- Contests can attract the wrong sort of people. TicTalking is after a very broad user base, so having people who spend their lives online entering contests isn’t necessarily a problem, as long as they continue to use the site. But if your audience is more narrow (and most will be), try not to attract people who aren’t your prospective customers.
- Culture can be cultivated. I’m not as convinced as Stephen that his users will all continue to be nice honest people there just for good conversation. But he is correct that outright rudeness will be squashed by other users once you’ve set the ground rules and tone for the conversations.